Tuesday, 23 November 2010


Typedesigners take inspiration from art and culture around them. Display fonts are a form of art/illustration. These are a few examples I found online.

This particular Display Font-'kalakari' was an inspiration for me.
It gave me a reason to think in terms of identity, since by looking at it I could make out that 'kalakari' is inspired by Indian jewelry and embellishment.

Letter design inspired by jewelry.

Warli (Tribal Art) inspired Type.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Mithila art around us..

Perfect examples of how Mithila Art Form is taking up shape and becoming a part of us..

Sharad Kumar, Contemporary Madhubani Artist

Article: (How he took Madhubani Art form to Paper Mache, products)


He grew up with the Mithila motifs. His toys were the colours his grandmother and mother mixed. And he particularly liked fashioning figures out of the papier mache pulp which was available in plenty. That's how it was young Sharad Kumar, grandson of one of the pioneering Madhubani artists, Chandrakala Devi. Chandrakala along with Sita Devi and Ganga Devi is considered one of the founder artists of the Madhubani school who transferred with ease the colourful paintings from the walls to paper and fabric. Chandrakala, who was given the national award in the eighties, added yet another dimension to the art of Mithila. This was the introduction of papier mache to Madhubani by making panels and then etching out motifs on them.

But it is Sharad who has exploited the medium to its full potential by making sculptures in which he takes the traditional symbols and works them out with a contemporary vision. A commerce student, 23-year-old Sharad quit college to bridge the gap that exists between the the traditional and the modern artists. Interestingly, he chose the creative inheritance which came from women. His father, Arjun Kumar, is a professor of animal husbandry in the agricultural university at Patna. Sharad's sculptures have attracted notice and his works have already featured on the covers of the Inside-Outside magazine as part of the decor for the interiors of art promoter Rajeev Sethi's house.

"I started by making panels and small sculptures in paper pulp. But the medium enchanted me. I moved on experiments by adding different ingredients which would make it more pliable,'' says Sharad. Exposure came to Sharad when he participated in a workshop at Orissa in which traditional and contemporary artists came together. Artists like Jatin Das, Manjit Bawa, Anjoile Ela Menon and others tried their hand at Sharad's paper pulp. ``I was very happy to meet these artists and see how they worked. It was a whole new world opening before me,'' he says. Soon, Sharad's sculpture was selected by the Lalit Kala Akademi to feature in the National Exhibition (1995-96).A moment of joy for the young artist.

Sharad had already experimented by fashioning out furniture in paper pulp. ``What I added to paper pulp was methi seed powder to guard it against termites and tamarind seed powder to give it strength,'' says the artist. Now he turned his attention to using the medium for sculptures. Besides the beauty of the form, Sharad has been experimenting with varied textures in any one sculpture. The results are quite amazing, be it figurative work or abstraction. His felicity with the medium got him the opportunity to design the backdrops for the fashion show at the J.D.Annual Design Awards -- 1996 held a couple of years ago at Hotel Le Meridien. And interesting journey indeed for Madhubani from the village huts to the scene of high fashion.

What is remarkable about Sharad's attitude to art is that he retains essentially the soul of a traditional artist. His dearest possession is a photograph in which Sita Devi, the grand dame of Madhubani, is giving him her blessings.In spite of the attention his sculptures have drawn, Sharad is in no hurry to hold a solo show. This would be the first thing a contemporary urban artist would do. ``I will hold a solo show but I want to first complete the projects which will benefit Madhubani art as a whole. The solo show will benefit just me, '' he says.

Among the projects that he is involved in is the writing of a bi-lingual book on Madhubani art in Hindi and English. He has nearly completed the manuscript which is fully illustrated with a detailed decoding of the symbols and geometrical patterns of Madhubani.

"The most authentic book on Madhubani remains Art of Mithila by French scholar Yves Vequad who spent seven years in Bihar doing research. Many other people have worked on this subject but till date there is no book for the students of Madhubani. My book is aimed at the students and takes an exhaustive look at the elements that go into the making of Madhubani,''says Sharad. He is dedicating the book to late Pupul Jayakar, who worked for the promotion of traditional artists.

His latest venture in the Delhi schools in collaboration with another artist, Atul Johri, is aimed at eliminating the poly-bag menace by using the bags for the basic structure of the papier mache sculptures. ``I have been doing this in my own work and a big sculpture can take in hundreds of bags''.

Copyright © 1998 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.

Here are a few examples of paper mache products:

Arti Sandhu, Contemporary Artist

This is an interview I found on a blog. Arti Sandhu

is a designer I came across online. I had seen her work in Mocha Art House, Vasant Kunj. S

eeing the new series of illustrations by her really knocked my socks off!

What fun- Madhubani meets contemporary. I love her lines, her humour and the droopy faces in interesting contexts in each of these pieces. Arti teaches design and has lived and worked in India, New Zealand and she is now in America. "Home for me is a complex notion, though on some level it will always be India. I write on the subject of Indian tastes and clothing (fashion), dabble in mix media drawings and take photographs when opportunity strikes."

I really respect Arti's work & asked if we could do an interview & here it is!

Artnlight: As a design practitioner/teacher how much of India has shaped your design sensibilities? Did you have to go away from it to come back to it?
Arti Sandhu: I feel India shapes my visual sensibilities in numerous ways…ways that I only came to realize as I starting making my own mix media work a few years ago..
I feel we (in India) all have a strong (sub conscious) connection to craft, textile and the layering of textures, motifs etc. We also live in multi layered urban environments which have similar constructs of color, texture etc. However honing this or find a way to make it personal to me really only came when I moved away from India as a site of home…and began to return to it (yearly). Perhaps it was some sort of nostalgic migrant hang-over that I suffer/ed from (and many other migrants suffer from) that makes one polarize certain aspects and often even over romanticise the “past”…but this process certainly allowed me to indulge in ideas and concepts that I began to appreciate as an outsider, who had intimate memories of being an insider…if that makes sense.
Being able to “return to India” as indulgent as it seems, also allows me to notice everyday things that I may have missed previously or give extra attention to mundane things that most people take for granted as they see them everyday.

"I was thinking about the notion of leaving home...or being received by dull or unwilling relatives (an experience many migrants would relate to). Also the "fresh off the boat" look - that usually takes time to lose completely"
" The ubiquitous lime (nimbo) and chilli hanging good luck charm gets some action."

"Mahila (a woman) surrounded by Gobar ki pathis (Cow dung cakes). A great source of fuel, rows of cow dung cakes are a common site on boundary walls and fences in Indian villages, small towns and city fringes. “Beauty in Gobar” is a play on how the beautiful and not-so-beautiful coexist in harmony in India’s urban and rural landscape. "
" Ladies always get a seat on Delhi's local buses.... "
Artnlight: We come from a very colourful artistic heritage, thats so different from the western aestheic, which side do you personally gravitate to?
Arti Sandhu: I’m not sure which side I gravitate too. What I do know is that I tend to gravitate towards certain visual characteristics that are not necessarily from any one particular place. I’m intrigued by urban fragments, signage, folk and outsider art, awkward compositions and repetition…to name a few. Miss match as an aesthetic is something I really like too.

Artnlight: Your new series is Madhubani inspired, do tell us more about it- what made you think of it, has it been brewing in your head for a while or did it just strike you one fine moment to do it.
Arti Sandhu: Madhubani has always appealed to me – as on one hand it is extremely simple in its line quality and na├»ve motifs, but extremely complex through composition, fineness of detail and the use of line and repetition etc. The combination of storytelling and decorative techniques really appeals to me and also the lengths the artist goes to – to tell a story and make it visually appealing.
My new series “
Mahila Moments” had been brewing in my head for a long time and I started some early doodles in Summer 08…. thats when I tried my hand at some pen drawings combined with photo collage. The pen work was initially inspired by Madhubani style borders – the use of stripes, simple geometric shapes and their repetition in particular. I also started to experiment with drawing the human figure at some point….and as I was/am also writing about modern Indian fashion….the Mahila Moments drawings started to evolve. But I really got excited this past Dec/Jan as I finally worked out a sort of style of drawing – the figures with the round heads and stocky bodies with equally awkward/pensive expressions. Since then series began and has been super exciting for me to work on as I enjoy the humour that goes with each drawing.

"This piece makes reference to Mahila Mandals (meeting/committee of women), Mandalas and the "I can make it at home for nothing" (with a small aubergine) skit in the BBC series Goodness Gracious me "
"Chaudhvi ka Chand"
I feel my work has to tell some sort of story…and I like to focus on everyday, mundane incidents in my work. In “Red on Sale” the notion of these modern women fighting over luxury fashion was my angle. So as the Mahila series is growing...new things get added to mix.
The introduction of the “small aubergine [baingan]” came from a video clip of the BBC comedy Goodness Gracious Me.
"In the “Extra Arms” drawings I was trying to play with modernity and mythology together."- AS
"The round disc drawings were inspired by the shape of ganjifa cards (that I desperately want a set of) and the full circle skirts I saw in a book on Indian textiles. So that’s how the series is growing."-AS
"I hope to make them bigger or smaller or even transfer them onto textile as the months progress! I’m also going to be India for a month in summer…so that will also add new dimension to the drawings I think!!" -AS
"I was looking through some images of Indian graphics when I came across a set of round [ganjifa] kamasutra playing cards. That combined with a recent trip to Gap (and their colorful boxer briefs for men) made me think of such "lunch time interruptions"... I was also thinking of an image I remember seeing years ago in the Andhra Times of Lakshmi Parvathi, wife of NTR (NT Ramarao, the then Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh) taking lunch for him in a tiffin box. It was her daily routine. " Arti Sandhu

Useful links: http://artnlight.blogspot.com/2009/05/arti-sandhu.html


This post has all the paintings or sketches of Mithila Artists from India. These will come useful in my research for analyzing the art form and understanding elements from it.

Leela Devi, September 9/11, 2004

Banda Kanak Lotus Pond, 2003

Vinita Jha, Ekadashi Ritual, 2005

Baua Devi, Krishna and the holy cow

Santosh Kumar Das, Bride and Groom

Krishna Kant Jha, Tigers, 2004

Leela Devi, Kohbar, 2003

Gopal Saha, Bus, 2005

Sita Devi, Krishna, 1981

Chano Devi Salhesh, Ghosts, 2005

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Short Film

It was interesting to see this animation to give an idea of how are people using this form of art as an expression.

Yet another attempt

Initially I didn't understand parts of the format. The blue text is the outcome of a talk with my mentor.

Mithila Art form

A study of this art form and its future prospects ( Reword this to be more specific.)

What it means to people? How do people perceive the art form?

Which people? People like us who are not into art?

I want to put my finding to an appropriate use?

Relationship to theory – Origin and Evolution of the art form

The area I want to research is Madhubani Art. I would like to study about the art form and its origin.

Madhubani paintings or Mithila Paintings is a style of Indian painting, practiced in the Mithila region of Bihar state, India.The name is itself named on the village Madhubani

The Madhubani painting or Mithila Painting are originated at the time of the Ramayana, when King Janak commissioned artists to do paintings at the time of marriage of his daughter, Sita, to Hindu god Lord Ram.


Madhubani paintings mostly depict nature and Hindu devotional events, and the themes generally revolve around Hindu deities like Krishna, Ram, Shiva, Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswati. Natural objects like the sun, the moon, and the religious plants like tulsi are also widely painted, along side scenes from the royal courts and social events like weddings. Generally no empty space is left; the gaps are filled by paintings of flowers, animals, birds, and even geometric designs.

These paintings has been done traditionally by the women of villages around the present town of Madhubani (the literal meaning of which is forests of honey) and other areas of Mithila. The painting was traditionally done on freshly plastered mud wall of huts, but now it is also done on cloth, hand-made paper and canvas.Madhubani art is a form of traditional Indian art form.

Madhubani Paintings are an indigenous art form of a quaint village of Bihar. Here the women of the village maintain a matriarchal dominance over the craft. They paint figures from nature and myth on household and village walls to mark the seasonal festivals,for special events of the life-cycle, and when marriages are being arranged they prepare intricately designed wedding proposals , and the technique of painting is safely and zealously guarded by the women of this village, for it is to be passed on by a mother to her daughter.

Down the ages

Women of this village have been practicing this art form for centuries but it came to the forefront only in the 1960s, when a drought hit the area and people had to think of an alternative non agricultural source of earning. Selling these traditional paintings on handmade paper was the best alternative. And today they are one of the most celebrated Folk Arts of the world.

Relevance to the external environment/ Need – Lack of Indian expression

From my pre research, I gathered that there is a lack of Indian expression in the field of Graphic Design (What do you mean? ) and I would like to capture that. Its important to know what do people think of it. How has it evolved and what is the future of it.

Aslo one of the important points to be kept in mind is that how does the popularity of one craft effect the other.

Relevance to your practice – Filling the gaps as a Communication designer
I want to research in this area because I feel that it has a strong, rich Indian appeal which graphically yet needs to make a mark internationally. I am intrigued by the art form and want to know more about it, projects that have been or are being done, even the Contemporary aspect . I like the elements used and the bright color story because it communicates the depicted story beautifully, in other words it is well expressed. As a Communication Design student I would like to create something out of it to restore the Indian expression that lies in it.

Sub questions and method used to answer them:

1. What is Madhubani Art? (What is its origin? What are the elements used, color story? And Why?) What about materials? Who are the artists?

2. What does it communicate? (What do people think of the art form in current scenario? What is its relevance? Who are the Contemporary artists inspired by this form?)

3. What is the future of the art form? (Does the popularity of other art forms affect it? What can be done to take it beyond paintings?)

This is an artform you are studying. What would be its application in a graphic design scene? Justify the need for this. Or are you studying this rhetorically- Is it about meaning, cultural, identity?

Key sources:

What about original collections of madhubani paintings?

Taking people’s opinion through casual interviews or questionnaires. This is data collection, not resources.

Papers identified


Books identified

Books on Madhubani art form.Which books? Specify with name, author, publisher,year of publication—everything! Using Harvard style.

What are the websites you will refer to?

Any other sources I visited IGNCA, Dastkar workshop and I got a lot of insights. I looked at various art and craft forms from India.

Direct Communication with the artisians either over the phone or personal interview by visiting exhibitions/places like Dilli Haat or crafts bazaars happening in or around Delhi. This would help me get their views on Madhubani as an art form and where do they see it go with the technology and the designers coming up. (Do they consider designers an intervention? What is their take on Contemporary Art?)

Visiting art gallery in person or online.

Visit to Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts, Janpath, 28 October

I visited the 18th Dastkar Nature Bazaar showcasing vibrant authentic crafts from across India.
There were cultural performances, varied craft stalls, workshops by master craftsmen, workshop on photography and children’s section with kid’s products, workshop, games, various food items etc. Evening performances featured fusion- music, dance, sufiana singing, etc.

Related Article -

Nature beckons with an array of products


One of the traits of being a true Delhiite is not being able to get enough of shopping. The sheer volume of visitors who thronged the 100 plus stalls at Dastakar Haat Samiti’s annual Nature Bazaar is testimony of the popularity of the yearly fest.

If Dilli Haat be the one-stop-shoppe of the very best in Indian handicrafts, then think of your visit to the Nature Bazaar as the annual pilgrimage!

This shopper’s paradise has numerous surprises stored for you at every turn. One of the most innovative stalls would be the Haathi Chaap outlet (stall 105). Can you imagine kitschy stationery and curios made out of elephant dung!

Neither could we but one look at the assortment of products at the Haathi Chaap stall and you’d know that nature operates in strange ways. Started a few years ago by some enterprising people, Haathi Chaap uses treated elephant dung to make some wonderful stationery and this isn’t to be missed at any cost.

The Designer’s Corner is dedicated to products that have blended the traditional Indian crafts into more modern and utilitarian applications. Organic Connect is a joint effort by three enterprising women who have combined tradition with modernity to come up with some really exciting products.

While Aditi Prakash (Pure Ghee Designs) uses traditional Indian textiles for her limited edition hand-crafted bags that are selling like hot cakes, Tanveen Ratti literally craves a very modern future out of the time-honoured printing blocks and Hina Qazi’s stoles and scarves are a throwback on classic Indian designs while sporting a very fashionable look.

Yet another stall that stands out is ‘Then And Now’; Uma Tiwari’s high-concept functional products like candle stands, lamps and bookracks get enhanced by the application of traditional Indian art forms like Gond, Madhubani and Mathura Paper. Besides Neelum Saigal’s Bric-a-brac has very eye-catching products.

The good thing about such a medley of craft forms is that there is some thing for just about everyone. Apart from the absolute numbers the goodies that these stalls showcase range from a few hundreds to some thousands.

A few that should not be missed are leather curios including really good looking piggybanks (stall no. 59), jute carpets and mats (stall no. 62) natural soaps with more than 20 variations including cucumber (stall no. 118).

When the simple wish to pick up just about everything is so palpable, the invitation pricing is a very, very welcome thought.

The vast undulating landscape of the Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts is dotted with so much of stuff that you’d need at least four solid hours to do justice. Wait, did we mention the bevy of the food stalls feature goodies from the length and breadth of the nation to help you tank up?

In addition to the countless stalls there are workshops, organic products and many ongoing folk performances to enthrall the visitors. There is a special event on each single day of the festival that includes ‘Dastangoi’, the lost art of storytelling in Urdu, classical and contemporary dance compositions as well as Hindustani music.

The Nature Bazaar is on till the 14th of November, 2009 at the Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts, Janpath.