While India has never had a dearth of talent on art and craft, the right set of tools available today has accelerated its pursuit as full-time career for educated urban youngsters today. YouTube and Instagram are giving artists the right platform to showcase their work to a large audience. What’s more, it has also given rise to several entrepreneurs who teach their art through their channels or hold classes offline, thereby helping people engage themselves in interesting DIY (Do-It-Yourself) projects.’
MAKERS India caught up with three such women entrepreneurs to learn about their foray into this field, and what makes them a cut above the rest.
A DIY home decor YouTuber with over 43,000 subscribers, 28-year-old Dhara Patel from Jamnagar in Gujarat is popular for helping people make their homes look attractive. Her unique ideas and creations like entryway makeovers, kitchen wall decor, makeovers on a budget and more.
Dhara pursued a degree in MSc (CA and IT) before moving to Jamnagar after getting married in 2015. Surfing on Youtube while staying home inspired her to start her own channel, in 2018. “I decided to start my own channel and share my tips on home styling and crafts, and there has been no looking back,” she says.
Dhara, who loves videography, editing, and conceptualising new ideas, enjoys every bit of making a video. “I learnt these skills myself and wanted to know if I can do this on my own or not,” she adds. Her video on the DIY-planter basket and Diwali decoration ideas have more than 195,000 and 133,000 views respectively.
She feels this has been a fulfilling career, something that has fuelled her passion for creativity. “I am really grateful to have viewers interact with me, and I am glad YouTube has provided us with a great platform to unleash our creative skills,” says Dhara.
Smruti Agarwal, Tippling Art
Five years back, Smruti Agarwal (now 29), who belongs to Gurgaon, travelled with her mother to New York, where they came across a ‘Wine and Paint’ activity and decided to give it a shot. Little did Smruti know, this adventure will inspire her to start her own venture.
“When we sat for our session, I had no idea what I was supposed to do. So I started having the wine and followed the instructor. In the end, I managed to create a painting using acrylic as a medium and the painting was actually quite nice – something I would’ve never imagined to be able to create as I don’t come from a Fine Art’s background,” says Smruti, who has a background in Commerce.
While all participants had to paint the same boat against the backdrop of a beautiful sunset, all their paintings turned out completely different. This really fascinated Smruti, and she posted about this activity on her social media. To her surprise, there were several people who were excited to hear about this concept.
She moved to Australia in 2016 to pursue her higher education from the University of Technology Sydney, and continued to attend wine and paint events there. Upon returning to India in January 2019, Smruti wanted her friends to experience the same activity in India, but realised there were hardly any such activities in Delhi-NCR. That’s when one of her friends pushed her to curate this event herself.
“Next thing I knew I was setting up the logistics, finding an artist and procuring material for this event. That event eventually did not take place, but I did a trial session for my friends on my terrace in June 2019 and that is what led to establishing Tippling Art,” she adds.
Tippling Art has grown from hosting small sessions of about eight people on Smruti’s terrace to now organising large sessions of up to 40 people in prominent venues in Delhi like Le Meridian, Quorum, and Serai at Olive.
To stay relevant in the times of Covid-19, Tippling Art has regularly been posting art tutorial videos, and DIY videos with used liquor bottles, apart from organising ‘Sip and Paint’ sessions on Zoom.
Shilpa Mitha, Sueno Souvenir
Chennai-based miniaturist Shilpa Mitha (33), @suenosouvenir on Instagram, has a page full of delicious micro food from Onam sadhya to global cuisine.
A sound engineer by profession, Shilpa started making fake food miniatures as a side hustle in 2011, but it became a business right away. When she made a pair of burger-shaped earrings for herself using clay, it became an instant hit with her friends, who were her first customers.
Soon, her customer base started to grow. “It has been amazing; but it has taken me years to develop the brand unit. I have started reaping the rewards only recently,” she says.
Her biggest milestone was creating a customized soft shell crab souvlaki for Masterchef Australia judge George Calombaris.
Mitha sculpts miniatures using air-dry clay, a needle-like tool, and acrylic or oil paint. The process of production is quite tedious – looking at a picture, going through the recipe, identifying ingredients that must be visible on the dish, and then creating them individually. Finally, varnish is applied to make it look life-like. She often holds workshops in Chennai to teach people how to model miniatures out of clay.
Mitha’s pieces are available as fridge magnets and collectibles at her monthly online sales, which are generally sold-out within an hour.
As the nation-wide lockdown continues to keep netizens dependent on online content for engagement, the time has never been better for these entrepreneurs to build their user base.
(Edited by Athira Nair)