I Did Not Need A Man To Help Me Start My Painting Venture
My earliest memories as a child are of crafting, painting and drawing - I was always cutting paper or making cards, though they invariably found their way into the dustbin at the end of the day.
Fast forward to 23 years and painting is still my first love, along with reading (I have an insanely large library), yoga and traveling.
I sold my first painting for 500 bucks when I was straight out of school. That was a moment of enlightenment for me - I knew what I wanted to see myself doing for the rest of my life.
But I had to complete my education. So began the rather arduous journey of me not wanting to study but having to (sigh!) and at the same time, painting and taking up art projects/commissions that came my way.
Today, I clearly see the perks of being well educated and qualified and I need to thank my mother for that. It undoubtedly gives me an edge over the others. Many argue that I could have gone to a design school but my reasoning is simple - I'm not someone who can paint when told to paint at a fixed time in a fixed place. I need to be in the mood and the setting needs to be organic to let my creative juices flow. Art school wouldn't have suited me.
One incident I can't forget is when I was told by a gallery owner that my work was trash and I should consider an alternative option like art journalism if I wanted to stay in the art field. I had gone to show my work to her and what she said left me speechless.
That incident left me even more determined to prove myself and I could kiss that blessed woman's hands today for taunting me, or I probably wouldn't be where I am today.
Something similar happened when I submitted two of my paintings to a reputed national art academy for an art competition. The curator told me that what I made wasn't 'art', but nonetheless, he took them in. I returned after a month to collect my work because there seemed no point in leaving it there, as they wouldn't accommodate my kind of work.
One of the assistants took me to the glass-walled room for me to point out my artwork to him, so he could return them to me. And what do you think I saw?
While all the submissions faced the wall and couldn't be seen, both my paintings were facing the glass doors and could be seen from a distance!
I asked the man about the arrangement and he said that everyone liked my work so much, that they had placed it in a way so that they could see it as they crossed the corridor.
I can't express what I felt but I knew that even if I was withdrawing my work, I had won the competition in a way. The appreciation and the love all the people at the Academy had shown me - without even knowing that it was my work - was like a battle I had won. My journey technically started with my first solo exhibition when I was 19, the response to which was overwhelming.
I sold fifteen paintings that day and I was on top of the world. I was given an 'Award for Excellence in Art' on 26th January and was felicitated by dignitaries and visiting Vice Chancellors from across the country. After that, orders started pouring in. I was completing orders back to back and studying for my exams as well, but the feeling of satisfaction was immense.
I had also always seen myself as a designer of sorts and wanted to make that dream come true. I started learning the ropes of designing, printing and textiles. I educated myself through online research and YouTube videos. Armed with my portfolio, I approached a couple of textile houses and la di da, they loved my work!
That's when the idea of Art By Vrinda was born. Today, I'm painting for personal collections, both in India and abroad, and designing for labels across the country.
While it hasn't been a smooth sailing, I don't want it any other way or it wouldn't be a story worth telling.
My parents weren't happy with my decision to pursue a career in art and designing, but they gave me 6 months to prove that I could do something in this field or I would have to resume my education. They wanted me to get married but I had a bucket list of the things I wanted to do before I entered into wedlock.
Starting my own business and earning a name for myself in the field of my choice, topped my list of priorities. To me, it was also a matter of self-esteem. I was confident that I could rely on my talent to prove myself - I DID NOT need a man with plenty of capital at his disposal, to start me off.
Today, when I see the pride on my father's face for my achievements, there's a sense of triumph, happiness, contentment and self-worth - all rolled into one.
This personal narrative is written by Vrinda Dugar, the independent artist behind Art By Vrinda. Her story is a part of our ‘Women Entrepreneurs’ series. Vrinda was our guest moderator for the Art & Craft community wherein she helped answer the questions by community members, shared her experiences and her inspiring journey. Come, be a part of the SHEROES community and connect with like-minded women.