#Interviews

Behind the Craft : Artist-Entrepreneur Srinia Chowdhury On Creating Functional Art

Srinia Chowdhury
Srinia Chowdhury is a trained sculptor who has been successful in showcasing her work in prestigious art galleries in the past decade and now she is making her art accessible for the masses not just to admire but also to use in their daily lives. Her works have found their place in the Latvia Ceramics Biennale and Mark Rothko Museum of Latvia.

The unconventional figures decorated on the mugs and other pieces of functional art made by her are reflective of her ideas about the society she lives in. The moulds she intends to break.

While speaking with SheThePeople about her journey so far Chowdhury revealed what made her explore entrepreneurship and what has been the most exciting part about it. She said, “Actually, the medium I work in; Ceramics has a charm about it and for centuries this medium has been used as functional ware. It was on public demand I started making small batches; maintaining the style which matches my art practice of drawing, painting and carving on clay.”

Srinia Chowdhury

Picture Credit: Srinia Chowdhury

“I decided to go become an artpreneur is because I realised my art is reaching the masses and there is a crowd who actually appreciates using functional art which is purely handmade and not blindly mass-produced. So here I am, with immense nervousness and loads of all-nighters managed to launch my webshop on where I plan on dropping small batches of functional art pieces every few weeks!”

You are taking India handmade to the world – why is that such an important link in your growth story? 

“Handmade is always going to be a bit more expensive than machine-made. Each piece actually takes months to come to shape from the sketch to the real. One piece made at a time. The awareness of handmade and why it holds a special space has to be generated to appreciate the model of handmade.

Even if I grow out from being a one-woman business to having a team, I will always still personally be creating every piece of art myself, be it functional or sculptural. I would definitely be happy to have a team but handmaking each piece is something I wish to keep doing myself.”

Srinia Chowdhury3

Picture credit: Srinia Chowdhury

What kind of advice did you seek to become an artist-entrepreneur and what milestones were the most important for you?

“Being an artist-entrepreneur is different. That is because I do not outsource my creations. From procuring the clay to making, painting, firing, glazing, packaging and marketing, I do it all by myself. During COVID like a lot of people I studied some business techniques, I had to incorporate them in my unique way as an artist. That is a challenge we all face as artists! For some reason, art colleges do not teach the business side. So, I had to polish my own skills to come out as an artist-entrepreneur.

The most important milestones for me as an artpreneur has been setting up my own studio and setting up my own webshop!”

What challenges did the pandemic throw at you? How did that teach you as an entrepreneur?

“During the pandemic, I realised that I have to push myself to launch my webshop to keep relevant with the changing times to showcase my art.”

Leveraging Digital Media: I realised the power of digital during COVID. Now everything is online and that encouraged me to re-launch my portfolio-only website with a webshop and to the good grace of the universe, it got an amazing response

What was your journey like when you scaled up your small business?

“Ceramics as an art practise needs a full-fledged studio setup. With a place to store raw materials, making space, kiln for baking, packing and so on. I am a national research scholar and have been practising out of Lalit Kala, artist studios Garhi, New Delhi for the last couple of years. But that space is set up more for artist practise and research. If I wished to take my art to the masses, I had to have my own space, no matter how tiny that may be. That’s when my journey to research, budget, planning started.”

“It was not easy at all. There were times I felt like I wouldn’t make it. It took me almost two years to get my space up and about and running in New Delhi. Even though it’s a rented tiny space but it’s my own space and I am the boss of it. My passion to make my dream come true kept me going. A dream I saw with an open eye not closed for sure!”

Srinia Chowdhury4

Picture credit: Srinia Chowdhury

According to your experience, what qualities/skill set should new-age entrepreneurs inculcate in order to be successful?

“I have a 3P policy: Practise, Patience, Persistence. I believe these three qualities are most important for anyone who wants to achieve anything. Apart from that keep learning to keep growing. That is because market and trends keep evolving, it’s worth understanding what’s new and incorporating things that work with your working principles and keep moving ahead. Basically, keep your eyes open and try going out of your comfort zone every so often.”

“Focus on making your brand better than it was yesterday. Give up on comparing your work and life journey with anyone else’s. We all have our personal journeys which is worth polishing! Never not try! Try, Fail, Try, Fail, Try Fail, Try, succeed!”

How have you leveraged the power of digital in your journey?

“I realised the power of digital during COVID. Now everything is online and that encouraged me to re-launch my portfolio-only website with a webshop and to the good grace of the universe, it got an amazing response.”

Srinia Chowdhury

Picture Credit: Srinia Chowdhury

Do tell us about your future plans with your artist brand:

“I believe that unique artworks deserve to reach a wider audience; therefore, I plan on making a small unique one-off limited-edition batch of functional and sculptural art pieces apart from continuing my journey as a ceramic sculptor showcasing with galleries and being a part of artist residencies.

At some point, I also wish to give back to my community and come out with a few lessons for mainly artists to be sustainable artpreneurs. It’s something that’s been in my mind for a while, I hope I will at some point be able to put this together too.”

 

SheThePeople puts the spotlight on women entrepreneurs. This is a series is a partnership between Google and SheThePeople.


Suggested Reading: 

It’s A Guy’s Job. Why I Started A Wall-Putty Business As A Woman

Putting Handmade On Our Tables, Aditi Murarka Agrawal of Nestasia

Nushaura Candles Are Lighting Up The Future Of Women Artisans


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