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Lover Of All Things Colourful And Disproportionate, Illustrator Shweta Sharma On Why Her Mom Is Her Biggest Teacher

  • IWB Post
  •  December 4, 2018

“Be it through spoken or unspoken ways, being with my mother was enough to learn about paintings and life. I would learn so much by simply watching her. Apart from painting lessons, she has taught me to be patient as an artist,” says illustrator Shweta Sharma.

Shweta’s love for art began at an early age and she could be found painting even during the extra time at school. Sharma ji’s daughter then enrolled herself into NIFT Mumbai and is now a 26-year-old illustrator whose psychedelic form of art is all things colourful and disproportionate.

Born and brought up in Jaipur, she is currently working for a handicraft company in Mumbai during the day and painting the world crazy and colourful by night through her Instagram page sharmatinahi, an attitude that she unabashedly and unapologetically flaunts.

We learned about the precious teacher-student bond she shares with her mother, her passion for reviving dying art, and hidden meanings behind her illustrations in a candid chat with her recently. Read excerpts:

Let us begin with the bond that you share with your mother. And how it has grown through paintings.

She saw the inclination towards art in me and since then has been the strongest pillar of support. I started painting under her guidance and I still remember how patient she was. Be it through spoken or unspoken ways, being with my mother was enough to learn about paintings and life. I would learn so much by simply watching her.

She used to let me use all of her colours and even when I painted the cards that my father (he was very romantic back then) used to get for her, she never scolded me.

Hum kala khud ko samajhney ke liye banaatey hain. Doosron ko samjhaaney ke liye nahi. #mixedmedia #illustration

153 Likes, 5 Comments – Shweta Sharma (@sharmatinahi) on Instagram: “Hum kala khud ko samajhney ke liye banaatey hain. Doosron ko samjhaaney ke liye nahi. #mixedmedia…”

So, your childhood was full of colours?

Oh, yes. Totally. Everybody in my maternal family has grown up drawing together. So, summer vacations in our maternal house in Agra used to be all about painting. My mother has four sisters, all of them drew together.

Wow. Does your mother still paint?

She stopped while my brother and I were growing up. But she began getting back into her passion five years ago when she joined an NGO, where she teaches little kids painting. I make sure to send her supplies every now and then because I know how much she has missed her brushes.

We read how you are working towards reviving old artforms that are slowly dying. Tell us about that. 

Well, I am trying my best to do one at a time.

For my graduate project, I did a collaboration with Mr Pawan Sharma, my father’s friend who is also a good miniature artist, on Contemporary Miniature paintings, also known as Neo-miniature paintings. The main purpose of these paintings earlier was to capture the stories of Raja Rani (King and Queen). The problem that now exists is that in today’s time, people are not interested in buying them because they can’t relate to them at all.

Even though the art is available at a very affordable range, the art doesn’t find itself being commercially viable. So, we have the talent but we need to revive that with new, relatable trends.

With the help of Pawan uncle, I got in touch with artisans, who helped me make the miniature paintings.

This is a concept of neo-miniatures as a cultural development for original miniature paintings to give the artform more variety and to pass light to new forms of the same art that our generation can connect more with. It doesn’t keep the intention of underestimating the original form and aesthetics, the whole idea is to make the art more profound in terms of sellability. It takes the artisans nearly a month to finish an A4 sized intricately done miniature painting, for which the market pay is as good as nothing. There are families who shifted from this occupation to selling pani puris to sustain their basic needs. It is heartbreaking to see people suffer with such enourmous talent. This was a creative collaboration. I didn’t steal their designs or make them do these paintings. I did them myself. But they had me under their wing for nice four months to teach me how it’s done. They had let me observe, click pictures, understand the process and authenticity of the whole thing. And I on the other hand made a catalogue for all the products they were selling, with a tentative list and samples of the kind of things that can be done to earn a better living while connecting more with market demands. #miniaturepaintings

132 Likes, 6 Comments – Shweta Sharma (@sharmatinahi) on Instagram: “This is a concept of neo-miniatures as a cultural development for original miniature paintings to…”

Matchak and Matchakali. Doing pairs now haha. . I am getting a lot of requests to start selling these and I am 70% convinced I should. Interested people can kindly DM me. #matchbox #miniaturepaintings

139 Likes, 8 Comments – Shweta Sharma (@sharmatinahi) on Instagram: “Matchak and Matchakali. Doing pairs now haha. . I am getting a lot of requests to start selling…”

You also collaborate with brands and we know how brands can be unrealistic with their demands sometimes. So, tell us, does it get difficult to bring in your individuality? 

Maybe because I am from Jaipur, I can never stay away from colours. I love details and I am a sucker for maximalism in the era of minimalism. So, I mostly work on a project when I get my creative freedom. I don’t take projects for money.

There’s an illustration of a girl with glitter pins on your page. Tell us about that.

The girl is basically putting smileys on the house. It comes from a background when we are kids and we’re asked to put up a fake smile and enthusiasm when people come home. Doesn’t matter if you’re happy or in the mood to talk or not, you are just forced to do things. So then you put on a fake smile and become someone else. The pinned eyes portray that our minds are somewhere else but our eyes are pinned to be present there.

Hope you are in pink of your health ft. The girl with glitter pins Finally making some use of old sketches I forgot about. #mondayblues #coloursmakemehappy

159 Likes, 7 Comments – Shweta Sharma (@sharmatinahi) on Instagram: “Hope you are in pink of your health ft. The girl with glitter pins Finally making some use of old…”

You also use a lot of disproportionate face parts. Is there a hidden message you’re trying to communicate?

We have sensory organs that are each designated to perform one activity. Eyes to see, ears to hear, nose to smell, and all that to sort out their individual functions. But we are more complex. Our eyes hear without anyone even saying a word and they communicate so much without our mouths uttering even a word.

Serving some bright red complex in the menu #surreal #mixedmedia

157 Likes, 9 Comments – Shweta Sharma (@sharmatinahi) on Instagram: “Serving some bright red complex in the menu #surreal #mixedmedia”

https://www.instagram.com/p/BimY8sJF-Lv/?taken-by=sharmatinahi

Wrapping up, how do you plan to help artisans?

Once I have collected enough funds, I will get back to the artisans, who had helped me in the Neo Miniature project and create something beautiful that can be commercially viable. I look forward to give the dying art new wings with contemporary touch.

This article was first published on September 5, 2018.

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