In her mid-20s, Sadia Mir, a Media studies student, convinced her family to take her art hobby as a full-time career. In a place like Kashmir, where the buzz around portrait art and calligraphy is catching up with many youngsters taking it as a full-time job, Sadia chose to move beyond calligraphy and portraits and introduced the out of box idea to paint her thoughts on the canvas.
She is among the grown art clan of Kashmir who have turned art into entrepreneurship to earn while following the passion.
Sadia from Srinagar’s Rajbagh area said that while in school, one of her art teachers appreciated her passion as a kid and asked her to pursue it beyond a hobby. “Then, you know, how things change after school. As a student, you have a lot on your plate. I got busy in my studies, and within a few years, I was pursuing my Master’s in Journalism. But I never put my brush down, I continued to paint, but I tried my best to keep it authentic and out of the box.”
Sadia believes that there are so many good artists who are good at portraits and calligraphy, but “I tried to excel in different forms of art, and it has been a good journey”.
As Sadia reached a decisive point in her life to become a research scholar or pursue art, she chose the latter. “I got selected for Ph D abroad, but my heart always wanted to follow the art. With the support of family and friends, it was in early 2020, I chose to go for it full time. The journey has been full of ups and downs, but I want to follow my heart and pursue it despite every huddle,” she said.
While getting inspired by other artists, Sadia tried to do things differently and move beyond calligraphy and portrait art. Her painting on mini canvases is attracting a lot of attention among youngsters. She is known for her Polaroid art, where she paints a landscape and other things on Polaroid type cards.
From painting religious Polaroid cards to landscape art, she brings fresh art to her clients.
Last Ramadan, when Sadia challenged herself to paint 30 paintings throughout the month of Ramadan, the outcome she says was more than what she expected. “Rather than going on a big canvas, I thought of making bookmarks with verses from the holy Quran. I received a good response. In a similar kind of challenge, I made 30 landscape Polaroid size paintings which also was a great experience,” she said.
Sadia incorporated some of those paintings in a table calendar, which she launched in 2021. She says her hard work is finally paying off, and she is trying to do more out of box things.
A BA Honours student, Asma Malik, has moved beyond portraits and calligraphy. Her art is based on Gouache colours which are now slowly picking up in Kashmir with more artists using the same technique.
A photography enthusiast, Asma says her love for nature and photography always helped her to connect with art.
Based in Jammu and actually from South Kashmir, Asma tried to be innovative in her art and turned it into entrepreneurship. She mostly paints landscapes and is currently working on her 100 painting challenge.
She said that in lockdown, most of the artists found an escape in the art. “The art not only helps you to earn but also keeps you calm mentally. In the worst covid lockdown, this art helped me a lot,” she said.
After facing every kind of challenge in turning her hobby into a profession, she is now getting a good response.
“There are many clients who are placing orders and want to buy the art. A lot goes into it, which people usually don’t realise. It takes a lot of research for material, colours, paper and other things. One feels good when your hard work is appreciated,” Asma said.
As Sadia and Asma have turned their art into entrepreneurship, Aafiya Shabir from Srinagar is not sure yet to do the same. She says her art is part of herself, and she is not yet certain to sell it.
Aafiya has been working on a relatively new concept in Kashmir called art journaling. “Like normally we write a journal about our own feelings, art journaling is about doing the same, but there we use art and text. This art could be landscape, and words are also painted in artistic form rather than in simple text,” she said.
After doing art silently away from social media so far, Aafiya said she decided to turn her social media pages public and reach like-minded people.
A student of clinical psychology, she says that art therapy is a known thing that helps humans in a positive way. Her wall paintings, art journaling and paintings on small objects like CDs have garbed much attention.
All three artists are trying to move beyond traditional landscape art and introducing new forms of art. This art is relatively contemporary to Kashmir, which youngsters are liking. These artists say that their social media platforms and using the new trends of branding themselves has helped them a lot to connect to people. Since lockdown, many young artists are exploring their hidden talent, with many getting lots of acceptance. This is helping these youngsters to turn their hobby into a full-time job.