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3 Indian Artists Discuss Funny Requests And Social Restrictions In The Business Of Customisation

  • IWB Post
  •  December 5, 2018

“Just for you.” Don’t these three words have an immense power of making us feel special? Well, this is called the magic of customisation. To own, to wear, to live with things especially made for you. 

We got into a conversation with three female Indian artists – Rashmi Dogra of Fluke Designs, Sugandha Tyagi of Shoes Your Daddy, and Neha Sahu of The Haelli, to understand what it’s like to paint an individual’s dreams and desires and add their personal touch to objects.

Fluke Designs started to fill the gap of turning people’s personal dream art and personality into lifestyle about a decade ago. Rashmi, a painter by passion, sprays her magic on trunks, bags, home decor, shoes, fashion, everything.


Rashmi Dogra

For Sugandha Tyagi of Shoes Your Daddy, it was an inner desire of painting the roads while you walk as your footprints speak for you. From funky slogans to eccentric colours, Tyagi paints your footwear with what your heart desires. Along with the footwear, Tyagi has now begun to customise furniture as well.


Sugandha Tyagi

The Haelli by Neha gives traditional jutis a makeover. Florals, moustaches, slogans, Neha wants the jutis to match the personality of contemporary Indian women.


Neha Sahu

In a fun and light chat, we learned about crazy requests the artists receive from customers, social restrictions, and a bit more about the art of customisation.

Read excerpts:

So, tell us, do you guys have to be socially and politically aware while painting? Is there some kind of self-censorship?

Rashmi: Oh, yes. The sentiments have to be kept in mind. For example, if I am making something for a client in Dubai, I will avoid painting animals. If for a client in Italy, I will be conscious of making a peacock because that is considered bad luck there and I’ll rather make an owl because they love that.


Fluke Designs by Rashmi Dogra

Similarly, for India, I always stay clear of making flags and anything religious. People avoid buying the Kaali bag because then they will not be able to put the bag on the floor.

Neha: Totally! Once I made a  morpankh on jutis for which I received backlash because people related it to Lord Krishna and found it offensive. In another incident, my own in-house painters refused to paint an elephant, requested by a customer, because they associated it with Lord Ganesha. These things do make you conscious for the future.

Sugandha: I am sensitive about working on anything religious, be it for any country. The intolerance in our country has made me sub-consciously aware to stay away from it.

What about the regional aesthetics? Does the socio-economic status of your region influence your work? 

Rashmi: More or less. You do pick up from your surroundings, right?

Neha: The corporate and fast-paced life of Delhi-NCR has had a good influence on my work. I tend to make more jutis for women in the corporate field.

Sugandha: More than just the region, the whole popular culture of metro cities has influenced me. Like the growing awareness of feminism, women fighting stereotypes, the general work life, everything. I try to bring that a lot in my work.

Do you explore feminism through your art?

Rashmi: Actually, deep down I have always believed that women are superior. I haven’t yet explored-explored but I want to, maybe through slogans or pictures talking about men manipulating and inculcating the whole patriarchy from history.

Neha: I have taken a jibe on the culture of eve-teasing with sarcastic slogans like dekho magar pyar se. There’s so much more to the movement, and I would love to keep exploring that.


The Haelli by Neha Sahu

Sugandha: Exactly, there’s so much more. There’s so much to explore but for now, I have, through basic slogans like Feminist AF, BOSS Girl. For future projects, I want to make art for women with inclusivity of beauty, race, skin, and everything and a doodle of women fighting stereotypes.

What is your way of keeping the brand eco-friendly and sustainable? 

Rashmi: By keeping it natural and we’re trying to do that by working on dyes made with herbs.

Neha: Oh, guilty of not being there completely but we’re getting there slowly. We use the leftover paint on other materials, re-use the worn-off paint brushes as sticks and as decoratives.

Sugandha: So, our canvas shoes’ material is cotton. We don’t use polyster at all. There is no use of plastic packaging and it’s done with carton and newspaper. Also, we use leftover paints and brushes.


Shoes Your Daddy by Sugandha Tyagi

Before we sign off, the craziest request received from clients?

Rashmi: Oh, it was crazy and creative. I received a request from a customer to paint their pressure cooker. Another one was to paint the body tattoo on a product as it wasn’t on a visible body part of the person.

Neha: When a bride requested me to paint her face on one juti and her husband’s face on the other one!

Sugandha: Kind of similar. Have received requests to paint faces and portraits and lines like, “I love my wife/husband” and “happy birthday”.

First published on Jul 18, 2018.

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