Women In Design
Monthly Feature // May 2020
“Art is powerful & empowering”
Most of the inspiration in their art comes from the natural world and they are always looking for things that are worthy of celebration. During these tough times, they’re keeping themselves busy and they participated in the 36 days of type challenge to celebrate change makers and the unsung heroes of the past and present. We have listed them as our favourites in our weekly round ups too!
“Art is powerful & empowering” said the founders of PaperBaag Co, a company based in Jammu that was started as a social entrepreneurship venture by two ambitious & young women. Priya and Sumedha started this initiative that predominantly creates handmade products which are labour intensive and aids in the employment of women from underdeveloped backgrounds. They are currently working small, (training) & creating opportunities for women in Jammu to work on a freelance basis.
On content creation & creativity
Most of the inspiration in their art comes from the natural world and they are always looking for things that are worthy of celebration or propaganda. During these tough times, they’re keeping themselves busy and they participated in the 36 days of type challenge to celebrate change makers and the unsung heroes of the past and present. We have listed them as our favourites in our weekly round ups too!
They are also using this time to connect with their fandom, through sharing and receiving art. With this, they have started the ‘art from home’ initiative that utilizes household items to create trendy and unique works. In the process, they have managed to build a safe and inspired space for their followers to share their work. Endearing, isn't it?
"Every drop in the ocean counts."
“When you own a business, you're your own boss.” says Sumedha. Most of us working from home tend to get carried away with household tasks (a.k.a Netflix!), but how does PaperBaag deal with procrastination, you may ask, the biggest lesson they've learnt over time is the feeling of satisfaction; the satisfaction of completing the 2-3 major tasks everyday on your checklist for the week. The PaperBaag co. duo also hold each other accountable by staying on top of things and understanding each other's strengths and weaknesses.
Team PaperBaag co. like most of us, love learning new things. They are constantly pushing boundaries and believe in keeping an open mind to grow and evolve as both, individuals and creatives. To stay motivated and inspired they keep a strict visual diet of authentic artists and successful brands. Through these experiences they’ve learnt that it's a long road ahead and it's important to look for the right opportunities and network (a lot!). They know that in order to succeed in the future, they have to constantly reflect and know when to unlearn mistakes of the past. Something they learnt the hard way, and have made it their mission to unlearn is, that it's not useful to doubt yourself! We know what that spiral looks like, yikes! As Sumedha said, “Every drop in the ocean counts.” It's important to trust the process and have the best intentions.
On facing challenges
One of the biggest challenges we face as creatives is the comfort and safety net our jobs provide. Turning down assured and high paying jobs to fuel their dreams, even when the rest of the world was constantly questioning their decisions, PaperBaag was worth every risk. The duo opted to take the unconventional decision to step down from ‘secure’ corporate jobs, a path that was expected of them by their colleagues and peers, given the outstanding academic profiles they’d built over the years. Instead, to use what they had learnt as economic graduates, and to bring their unique fresh take on the creative industry — they built PaperBaag Co. from ground up. At the end of the day, they had faith in their vision and each other, and that’s all that matters! To build your own path in a world that praises employee culture is courageous.
On art, design & inspiration
When you scroll through PaperBaag’s Instagram page, you’ll see some vibrant watercolor works complimenting the gentle elements of nature occasionally intertwined with elegant typography. Their confident strokes perfectly topped with humble colour compositions make it hard to believe that the two have no previous training in art. The team initially used to dread watercolours, but they’ve warmed up to the freedom this medium provides. They’ve understood that each piece brings a new learning curve where, if you make mistakes, there's no covering up as you can in oils, but rather working around the mistake or turning it into a learning point for their next masterpiece. It's a journey they've come to admire.
For self-taught artists like the PaperBaag Co. team, their first experiences with art are surreal and lasting. For Sumedha, it was her first ever oil painting of Tulips which took about 6 months to complete. She recollects how people wondered how someone so young could achieve that level of detail, when to her, it came so naturally - It was during this process that she realised how integral patience is in one's journey to success. For Priya, it was during one of their classic PaperBaag midnight sessions where she picked up a brush, and went for it. It turned into an astonishing galaxy painting which has now embedded itself as a signature theme in some of their products!
As creators, we’re always looking for inspiration and influences that translate into the pieces we create. For the PB team, it is Flora. The natural world, in all its glory (colours, textures, shapes and all) will always be their biggest influence, but their other influences are some very talented people - Polina Bright for her paintings that encompass “Poetry in motion”, Emily Jeffords, a current mentor and of course, Alicia D’souza.
With the world currently under lock-down, it’s a tough place for small businesses. PaperBaag was on its way for some scheduled product launches that came to an abrupt halt. Nevertheless, they took this as an opportunity to explore and research some sustainable practices to further develop their products. They are also networking, reading and trying out new recipes! (so are we!!). Alongside their business responsibilities, they’re working to do what they can to contribute to the current pandemic, they are working on producing cotton masks in bulk that are made sustainably and help employ local tailors. The PaperBaag Co. girls are all about DIY. Their spontaneous nature makes DIY fun, and don't treat it as a task. This is an example from when they found some burnt wood in the forests of Madhya Pradesh. Where some people would see waste, they saw an opportunity to create some useful products such as coasters, wall hangings and more! How exciting! We can’t wait to see more!
Through PaperBaag Co. they want to create thoughtful artistic lifestyle products and wedding stationary which could inturn bring together a lot of talented artisans. They believe in inclusive growth and hence, aim to work on creating, as well as finding jobs for these artisans so they can have a sustainable source of income. Their vision for PaperBaag Co. is to take it from being a successful local, to national, to a global brand with a curated team of artisans who are as passionate as the duo, but lack the social privilege. We’re inspired by PaperBaag’s diligence and values, and excited to see them grow and inspire in the near future.
Takeaways for creatives
“There’s no need to doubt yourself! If you're passionate about what you do, everything will fall into place. Don’t let likes, comments or numbers dictate your worth. Work on creating meaningful connections with people and build a good (loyal) audience. Be original. Look around and think about what inspires you the most, and incorporate that into your work.”
A little more about PaperBaag
Who's your favourite artist / designer?
Name 3 other inspirational Indian creatives that you look up to.
Neha Doodles, Alicia D'Souza, Ink Bucket.
Favourite font / a font you swear by?
Jonathan for Sumedha, and Courier New for Priya.
A major TV Show you recommend binging.
Marvellous Mrs Maisel
If you could host dinner at home, who are the top 3 names on your guestlist?
Katy Perry, Alicia D'Souza, Emelia Clarke, and Mrs Maisel (If we can).
We're always open to other perspectives, opinions and a good chat over some coffee or tea. We'd love to host a conversation with you, head on over to our Discord and get in touch!
With 🧡 Team WID.