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I’m A Self-Taught Artist Turned Designer And I’m Glad I Chose Career Over Shaadi

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My first serious brush with professional art came rather unexpectedly when I was pursuing my undergrad course in English Literature in Jaipur. The art department knew that I dabbled in art and they assigned the entire auditorium to me where I could put up my paintings – all these preparations were in honour of visiting dignitaries, Vice Chancellors and UGC deputies from across the length and breadth of the country.

The Great Kolkata Safari (acrylics on canvas, knife painting)

Though I agreed to do it halfheartedly, the response I received over the next two days was overwhelming and steered me towards making the decision that has made me the person I am today.

To cut a long story short, folks wanted to buy my paintings (I sold 13 paintings on the very first day), and the authorities decided to felicitate me with an award for Excellence in Art, and a cash prize on Republic Day!

Despite the encouraging response, I had doubts about my ability to become a full-time artist. I was able to sell more of my work, and also developed an interest in textile design, starting to do projects. Yet, I was not fully convinced of pursuing art as a career, not to mention facing the pressure to get married from family.

I, in fact, started looking for a full-time job when I stumbled upon a women’s platform called SHEROES. I decided to take a chance and downloaded the app. To my surprise, here I discovered an Arts and Crafts community, a dedicated space where members can continuously share what they are creating, every day, 24/7. Imagine that. The community gave me an opportunity to connect with like-minded, creative women, not to mention the love and support that keeps pouring in. It gave me the strength and validation to pursue a full-time profession as an artist and textile designer.

‘Art By Vrinda’ stemmed from my need to create a melange of aesthetics and creativity – by creating affordable art for a contemporary lifestyle. Over the past one year, I’ve diversified and I design textile prints and surface pattern designs for export, apparel, home furnishings and lifestyle products apart from painting, under my label. The cities I have lived in (Kolkata, Bangalore and Jaipur) and the places I’ve travelled to have a huge influence on my style of work.

Textile prints of my first collection

Building Skills DIY-Style

One thing I’d like to share here is that I’m self-taught, and that you don’t need a certificate or a degree to prove your talent. I don’t believe it can prove your worth because each of us is capable of a lot more, than what piece of certified paper can tell.

I’m all for education but if you’re past a certain age and find it difficult to go back to school, it’s not the end of things. If you feel you have the talent in you, nothing should stop you. I knew nothing about design but I always fascinated by it.

I poured my heart and soul into it – I’d spend hours researching, looking up other designers and their work, reworking my own designs, watching videos on YouTube and would visit establishments with their own block print setup.

The first export houses I designed for taught me aplenty from scratch and I realised that you can learn so much more hands-on with a practical approach to things, something that no design school can ever teach!

My artwork made it on the cover of the first SHEROES digital magazine.

A Few Growth Hacks

To all aspiring artists and designers, I’ll only say that this field requires oodles of patience and hard work. So, be prepared to work really hard.

Those who wish to freelance need to roll up their sleeves and become tech-savvy. That’s the most convenient and effective way of collaborating with labels and pitching your work.

Try and look up stores/brands/labels that fit your sensibility and area of work, and get in touch with them – you can first talk to them, then write and mail samples from your portfolio. This can be a tedious process as sometimes people do not get back and the entire process has to be repeated, several times.

But don’t give up, stay true to yourself and be focused – this is what got my artwork to be selected to grace the cover of SHEROES first digital magazine, ever!

Of Art Careers And Marriage

Art as a career choice is generally met with raised eyebrows and plenty of concern. And should anyone be ‘foolish’ enough to take it up, then marriage is seen as the perfect solution in order to lend stability to a girl’s life (and finances).

But I hoped to shatter the glass ceiling – for a change, let’s keep a woman’s career separate from holy matrimony.

I took it as a challenge to prove myself in a field of my choice by my own grit and hard work instead of giving in to societal pressure. It’s proved to be the best decision of my life and here I am!

Now, when I marry, I know it’ll be for love 🙂

About Vrinda Dugar: Apart from painting and designing, which takes up most of my time now, I’m also an avid reader. I have close to 500 books in my library (and I hope to take it up to 1000 soon). Also, a yoga enthusiast, fierce bathroom singer and The Big Bang Theory binge watcher. Though I have a lot of plans for my business, I generally avoid talking about them till they materialise (though I’m 26, this quirk probably puts me the category of a superstitious old woman ?). 

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