T.B: When was the first time you realized you wanted to give full time to this plan?
A.B: During my masters in University of Westminster in London, we had “business for design” in the curriculum. BELOVED INDIA was born out of that. After I came back to India, I worked for 2 years in DK, a publishing company, and side by side prepared the initial products for this plan. Now I am working full time to materialize the goals and have taken the initial plunge.
T.B: Why do you feel there is a need for such platform?
A.B: Indian culture is so diverse in its outlook and depth and the problems in the society are also very vast. With time, the root due to lack of water is drying up and the crust is getting more and more rigid on the surface in the form of rituals. Our very reason for the richness in the culture as a result are turning into our orthodox beliefs holding us back from accepting the modern time gracefully, without fighting with our past.
BELOVED INDIA aims to play that crucial role of bringing out the diverse and ever-evolving, mixing nature of culture. It would go deep to explore the root to make the nutrients available and also make it very much part of the changes and present time.
T.B: Tell us more about your art-work and the responses you have received.
A.B: The first set of products are a series of art-work with spiritual theme. BELOVED INDIA being a very recent start up, I am the employee and employer and hence the only artist and designer for now. I am mainly focusing on the Indian deities and am amazed at the concepts our ancestors have left for us to think, meditate and explore in our lives.
I have participated in group shows and my first solo exhibition would be in Auroville, Pondicherry in December. Despite of taking the unconventional angles to re-look at many deities, I am overwhelmed that the responses are so heartwarmingly positive. I get messages in my inbox with beautiful words on how someone could connect to it and that fills me up with enthusiasm that I am going right.
T.B: How do you want to take your art to the next level?
A.B: As I am working on the series, I am also studying the scriptures. I am reading the Vishnu Puran now in as original and un-edited form as I could find. I have realized that at the very centre of Indian culture is its spirit and philosophy. My next level would only begin when through my art-work I have allowed myself to become the messenger and also taken the initiative to plant the seeds to implement in the society. This is when the commercial side and the social side will unite. The respect that was given to nature, the importance that was given to truth and knowledge, if we can bring back those virtues in our day-to-day life, it will only complement our journey ahead with time.
T.B: What challenges do you face now and what do you need?
A.B: The biggest challenge at this stage is financial of course. I have big, lofty goals and no money to invest.
I am waiting patiently for the commercial side to come to a track first, so that the social side can be started. Till then I will have to collaborate or seek sponsor or work side by side on freelance projects.
T.B: What has been your source of inspiration?
A.B: I love folk art. When I was in my 11th standard, I had done a Madhubani painting workshop with Shanti Devi in which she had awarded me the 1st prize. This painting was later gifted to Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam. This entire event left a very deep impression in me. I love how real, simple, enchanting and raw this art form is.
I love how imperfect circles and lines also become perfect when they come together. I love the unpretentious, easy and very human touch to this form which makes it so rooted to life and emotions. Ideologically, Swami Vivekanand was my childhood hero and mentor. He was my first guide into Indian spirituality. And Rabindranath Tagore through his songs still guide my life and thoughts everyday.
T.B: What do you do in your free time?
A.B: I had very enthusiastically began to learn Indian Classical Music. I was so fortunate to have even got a scholarship to learn from Ustad Fahimuddin Dagar ji for a month. Now that very unfortunately I don’t do my “riyaz” regularly any more, sometimes I play music and hum alongside to compensate while I work. Besides, my harmonium is always there in my room to play and sing a Rabindra sangeet impulsively sometimes. Else, I love dancing, traveling, reading, writing, eating out and thinking of course.
T.B: If you were not a graphic designer/artist, what profession you wold have chosen?
A.B: Whatever I do, it circles around social work, spirituality or art in any of its forms. If not an artist which means not a singer or a dancer too, then a social activist for sure. An activist working on gender equality, to be precise.
T.B: What are your future plans?
A.B: It has only been 6 months now. I hope BELOVED INDIA finds its financial stability soon, so that I can start the next projects to further extend its path. My future plans involve working in the different stages and structures using design-thinking and problem-solving skills as a designer. I would like to explore the potential of design from creating an art-work to building a product to designing a system into developing a better society and a country for us.
"My paintings are inspired by Madhubani style. Repetitive stroke is a distinct feature of this style. I was curious to understand why such laborious work of repetition gives me so much joy. That led me to mantras which too are meant to be repeated. As I kept chanting I understood the similarities between mantras and the repeated strokes in a painting. This series of beeja mantras is a result of that exploration and opened up a new world to me."
"The growth of a painting coincides with my own growth. Only then can I come up with a new concept for a new painting. But what if a new phase has not yet started in my life to indicate the beginning of a new painting? To utilise that in-between period, I wanted to create small artworks that can be completed in less time and also can be replicated with hardly any involvement of mind. I realised, just like working on a new concept is challenging, mundane repetition too has its own challenges which gives one a chance to observe the mind working in a very different way. This series of bookmarks was a result of that process."