SHURU-ART: How it began!
From left to right: Neha Vashistha, Sana Sabah and Udita Tikmani
Today we get together with the 3 women founders of SHURU-ART, a niche online marketplace that strives to showcase and sell original works of art from the art students of Banaras Hindu University in Varanasi, India.
Sana Sabah has specialised in filmmaking from Banaras Hindu University. She has written and directed a short film “Faasley”. Apart from this she has acted and assisted in some short films made by batch-mates. The ones that are close to her heart are “Am I the change?” and “Dusk”. The most recent documentary she made was for SHURUA(R)T and is based on Pankaj Verma, who made a 26 by 20 feet portrait of Malviya Ji, “The Big Canvas”.
Udita Tikmani is a freelance fine art professional and an alumnus of Masters in Fine Arts (Painting), Faculty of Visual Arts, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi. She has shown her works in various groups and has had solo shows and accomplished some commissioned works. She says she gets her inspiration from her creative parents and affinity to colours and creation since childhood.
Neha Vashistha was born and brought up in the rich cultural environment of Benares. Being exposed to classical music at a very early age she developed a strong interest in various art forms including fine arts. Fascinated by language and literature she opted for English literature and linguistics in college. She found creative writing the best and started a career as a freelance writer in HiSPARK a start-up program for engineering graduates. But her urge to seek something more challenging led to Shuru-art.
Gaurav Tiwari, the man behind foundation of SHURUA®T, brought Udita, Neha, and Sana together. Neha handles the blogging for the website along with Gaurav, Udita is the art specialist. Art collecting, art keeping, graphics and designing the final product are Udita’s area of work. All the technological part related to website is handled by Gaurav, whereas Sana is responsible for the content curation as well as the production for promoting the artists.
As the name suggests, SHURUA(R)T is an effort to give a kick start to the local artists who come from a very marginalised background. They don’t have the resources or the skills required to promote their work or themselves.
Say the founders, “we at Shuru-art help by giving them technological and financial help. We have a website to sell their original paintings as well as the prints, we promote them by sponsoring their public art works. We also produce their documentaries in order to promote them on our website.”
The SHURUA(R)T team currently relies on social networking sites and exhibitions in residential apartments of Varanasi.
Apart from the challenge of ensuring rising sales, they still face difficulty when it comes to interviewing female artists because the parents don’t allow it. The team is trying to overcome this barrier by talking to them and telling them that there isn’t any harm in getting interviews recorded…
Says Udita, another challenge involves initiating trust of the students to provide the paintings and have faith in the platform, overcoming fragile framing for shipment, packaging, cost of shipment.
It’s been a year since SHURUA(R)T was launched. Their future plans do not only include enhancing sales volume, but also to promote the identity of the artists that they are working with. The dream is to exhibit the artists works nationally as well as internationally.
Says Neha, “we have also started selling printed additions in India so that we can reach the masses. But we are not just selling products, we are selling sentiments so we have planned to establish Shuru-art as a mutual platform for artists and art lovers where they can satisfy their creative hunger.”
As for now SHURUA(R)T is working with aspiring artists of Banaras Hindu University who are not financially sound. They take their original paintings, and sell them at www.shuru-art.com starting from $150. They have started selling prints as well at www.shuru-art.in, where pictures of the original works of art are printed and sold. In both the cases 70% of the revenue goes to the artist, after deducting delivery and framing charges. The team keeps 30% of it.
What would these three women founders of SHURU-Art have done if not started this venture?
Says Sana, “I would have been a screenplay writer for Bollywood films.”
“It is a difficult question because art has always been my passion but I think if not this than I would have chosen to be a Chef because it also needs lot of art of right combination and presentation,” adds Udita.
Neha says that she may have continued her career as a freelance writer but it’s hard to think of anything else after associating with Shuru-art.
What do they feel about the PM's new start up India initiative? Sana feels that the whole action plan sounds very promising. The exemptions and rebates are all a big relief for a start-up like theirs. Neha says that’s it’s a great opportunity that the PM has launched the initiative. It has given the Indian youth the confidence to push themselves forward and become job givers instead of job seekers.