Monthly Feature // April 2021
Kasturi Roy is a self-taught artist-illustrator (@stationery_hoe) and the former Head of Content at India’s biggest food media platform, EatTreat! She recently quit her full-time entrepreneurial job to focus on her next step.
Kasturi Roy is a self-taught artist-illustrator (@stationery_hoe) and the former Head of Content at India’s biggest food media platform, EatTreat! She recently quit her full-time entrepreneurial job to focus on her next step. She said, “During the past year I started doing these watercolour sessions in the morning before I went to work. It was therapeutic and it helped me prepare for the challenging day ahead.” Thus, what started as a passion project on the side, is now home to quirky, whimsical watercolour illustrations, products and workshops.
“Stationery Hoe is emblematic of all that is artistic, therapeutic and everything you need to slow down and enjoy the little things. I also took this pandemic to look at the more strategy aspect of design and moved to Italy to better understand the scope of Stationery Hoe through a second masters.”
On Design and Inspiration
When asked about her journey in art and design Kasturi said, “What I wanted to do in design evolved over time. First off, I didn't know I wanted to work in design. I don't think anybody does. You just end up in the field and then you’re a designer! I don’t know exactly what I do but, I put things together and I have good taste. The idea of good taste is very important because at some point when you’re able to have a discerning taste and other people around you are telling you that you have an eye for good aesthetics, that was the turning point for me.”
“So when I was working with EatTreat as head of content, my job wasn't really coming up with thumbnails or figuring out the more physical tangible aspects of the content property. But, when you are producing a show, you think about what kind of things you can pitch to a client and how can you make the presentation look exactly like what the show is going to feel like. So, that's where I fit in and I had to imagine what a concept for a show would physically look like. I didn’t have any kind of academic background for it, it was pure instinct. And that's what really made me take the decision to hone these qualities that seem to be intrinsic, they may not be anything at the end of the day, but at least I get to find out.”
“Somehow I've always separated art from my mainstream career. It's very analog and it's more like therapy. So If I tend to connect them, it gets a little messy because then, art starts feeling like work. The idea is that it should never feel like work. I learnt water colour as a kid and never really worked on it that much. Then I started doing it on the side and It was great!”
Going through Kasturi’s art on Instagram is reflective of the therapeutic qualities she speaks about. It is vibrant, dynamic and has a strong sense of calm. Most of her inspiration she says, come from her love of travelling. “Travel used to be my biggest source of inspiration. I never took a single day off through out the year and then, I would take a month off. No emails, no laptop and I'm not in communication with anyone. Which you really can’t do but, I needed to do it. I was in Spain for a month and the year before that I moved across Europe for a month and then in 2020 I was supposed to spend a month in Japan but, the pandemic happened. So, usually a lot of the inspiration comes from the research I do about these places and the photos I take. And if I'm really out of inspiration, I look at Pinterest. Just generally scroll through it, and most of the time, I see things I like. You lose inspiration sometimes, surely, when you’re in a block. I have been in a block for over the last 3 months now, because of the moving and shifting. But It comes back from time to time, you cant force it.”
On facing challenges and Art therapy
“Currently, I have 4 different things to juggle, I have my University classes, my Italian language class and a few more things. My language class starts early every Saturday and Sunday which means my weekends are pretty much taken. Then there's, of course, the art and then there's having a social life. So, I thinking waking up early every day is important. I do make lists of everything that I need to do. Having lists and making subcategories of projects makes it helpful because you can check things off as you go. You don’t have to complete everything today. You just have to complete a little bit and keep going! Progress over perfection!” We couldn't agree more.
“I think the biggest challenge for me was to find a unique style. I think it's something most artists struggle with and also a sense of not feeling good enough. Out there, people are so unbelievably talented, the struggle is to get out of this mindset and just focus on creating. To not be so self-critical because you end up becoming your own worst enemy.”
“Secondly, I think most of our validation comes from social media, its just how it is, and it's the new normal. And as a creative, if you don’t get enough likes or recognition, on social media, you end up doubting a lot of things that you're doing. It doesn’t really help. You need to ignore these things and keep at it. And the third thing is artist's block. At the end of the day, if you can rise above the self doubt and the need for validation, you can focus on creating some really cool things.”
The importance of health is something that rarely ever gets discussed in our country. Kasturi had an innovative solution, “I think we need to deal with stress and mental health in a mainstream way. With most of the world, working from home, there is no distinction between your work day and your personal day. What I realised during the pandemic, when I was doing these workshops with CRED, where the audience is primarily older corporate employees, is that they all go back home at 8 PM and then, even doing a painting workshop for an hour with their family or by themselves is very helpful. And its also a very productive way of spending time with the people that you love. So, using art as therapy is a market that hasn’t been tapped yet, and I think that the artist community needs to come together to create this. Not just from the ‘inherent goodness’ way but also in a commercial way, I think there's a lot of opportunities there.”
On Indian Art
“I moved around a lot as a kid because my father was in the army. When I lived in Kolkata, I was surrounded by works of art that weren’t water colour always, but they had this distinct style. This instilled the desire to have a unique style of my own. Even when I was working on my water colour, I wanted to find my style and I think every artist worries about finding their style. I think that was most important thing for me, to establish my style and I'm still working on it. Indian art doesn’t always pertain to art in itself, for me, its textiles, colours, prints and so many other mediums. Sometimes, I do get inspiration from hand embroidery, Kalamkari because they are also very botanical and use vegetable dyes.”
Validation is not important if you like what you do!
Takeaways for upcoming creatives?
“Self doubt can be killing, don't do it, It's not going to help you. A little bit of doubt is good, use it as an opportunity to do some research. But if you obsessively compare, you will despair. Validation is important but even if you’re terrible at what you do and you like what you do, its fine. But you will never know if you’re terrible or not. My favourite place to visit in the world is the Van Gogh museum, he was a very troubled person, he felt like he wasn’t good enough. It's a moot point, really. Validation is not the most important thing, just keeping at it is more important.”
What's next for you?
“I want to focus more on water colours and move into other aspects & themes. Also dabble in colour theory and use art as a tool to improve mental health. Doing my masters is also going to help me with the process of making this a reality.”
A little more about Kasturi
What is your favorite art movement?
Favorite font/a font you swear by?
A city that you’ve enjoyed travelling to?
What are you reading currently?
Dear Mrs. Bird by AJ Pierce.
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With 🧡 Team WID.