George E. Miller says,
“Creating artwork allows your mind to be in a safe place while it contemplates the tougher issues you are dealing with. One can use the tools of brush, paint, pastels, crayons etc to expose and even for a short time color those issues in a different light.”
In our #MotivationMonday blog focusing on the #WonderWomen segment, we present a woman who considers art as therapeutic too and aims at spreading this motto among the masses as well. Meet, Visual Artist and Design Entrepreneur, Anjali Goel. She is the Founder of Studio Tvastra and Co-founder of Studio Printmaking. These are both designing ventures via which she fulfills the role of an art educator by conducting workshops and taking art classes. Her aim through both these ventures is to spread the message of ‘Art as a therapy’. What is Anjali’s story and how does she manage time between two businesses and her personal life? Let’s find out in her own words.
“I’m Anjali Goel and I’m a Visual Artist and Art Educator as well as an Entrepreneur. I’m the founder of two design studios, namely, Studio Tvastra and Studio Printmaking . I’m from a small town in Harayana. Growing up I was not very academically inclined; at best I was an average student. All my cousins were super intelligent and particularly good at studies, but I was good at sports. Haryana is a conservative state and women still do not have as much freedom. Though my parents gave me a free rein to go ahead in sports during my school days, at least till the 8th grade, there came a point when they asked me to give it up and focus on something academic rather than on an extracurricular activity. This was due to their own lack of knowledge and conditioning more than anything else. It was during that time that art opened a window and came in as a solace. I became interested in it from 9th grade when my interest in sports was thwarted.
This interest in drawing as a subject and in arts led me to choose the arts stream. There was a little struggle in convincing my parents because the society had questions like, “Why is she pursuing arts? Will she become a drawing teacher?” and so on and so forth which affected my parents a lot. And I too actually had grown tired of answering and explaining these kinds of questions where the society at large but I ignored these and focused on the four years of my degree and came out with flying colors. Post this the struggle was to convince my parents to send me out for my Masters to M.S University in Baroda which is considered one of the best institutes not only in India but across Asia for arts. After joining the course too, the struggle continued because I soon realized that I was a small fish in an ocean full of talented people, not only in terms of their creative flair but also in terms of their communication skills. I was way behind most students around me as I came from a small town and lacked English speaking and writing skills too. Nonetheless I put my best foot forward and those two years exposed me to such people and experiences which led to the foundation of making me a better person. In fact the time I spent in Baroda actually gave me wings of freedom, not just for my artistic pursuits but even as a person. Because Baroda was far more liberal in terms of freedom given to women and girls as compared to my hometown.
After completing my Masters degree, I joined G.D Goenka in Delhi as an arts teacher. Alongside this job, I also pursued arts outside, by creating artwork pieces, paintings and participating in various exhibitions across India. I was also part of HLF (Hyderabad Literature Festival) where I collaborated on a book for blind people. Besides this I have worked on few other illustration-based story books. Another push came when I became a recipient of HRD Scholarship (Government of India) in 2011 and was able to showcase my work in exhibitions based in India and abroad.
The major turning point came for me in 2016 after my marriage, when I had to move to Bangalore. I never wanted to do a job but to sustain myself financially I undertook workshops. Honestly these didn’t pay very well and sometimes the cost of travelling and putting together the materials and everything else turned out to be more than what I earned. The one thing that motivated me at this point was getting a call from Amity and being awarded with the Best Emerging Artist award by Amity Art Foundation. I even got a chance to stay and teach the students of Amity for two days during this time which was a great confidence booster.
This was all going on but there was no real financial gain. My husband has always been supportive of my passion for art, but seeing this, he kind of gave me a deadline of sorts. He pushed me to challenge myself and prove my worth, that’s when both my studios came to be. So, if there’s someone to thank for my entrepreneurial beginnings, its him.
Through Studio Tvastra we conduct workshops pan India in collaboration with various brands, corporates and artists. We teach people art and give them the right education about art by conducting workshops on various art forms like folk art, contemporary art or different arts and crafts of India. Our mission here is to provide people the medium of art as a tool to express themselves and use it as a therapy. As we all know and now it has even been scientifically proven that art is a therapy. So, we try our best to do this in Studio Tvastra. And, so far, we have successfully collaborated with reputed brands to spread this message.
And Studio Printmaking, well, that one is all about printmaking in India. Woodcut printmaking is one of the oldest printmaking techniques. These days we have digital printing and 3D painting but with Studio Printmaking we aim to go back to our roots and in time, when we were just carving woods and engravings and printing our books, textiles and even newspapers through lithography. So, through Studio Printmaking my mission is to teach people about this craft. As of now we have conducted more than 70 workshops and catered to almost 2000 participants. Thanks to these we have at least been successful in making people know about printmaking and its basics like where and how it started and what all it entails. Under this we collaborate with different design schools and architecture institutes to teach their students. This is a very beautiful art-form and medium altogether; I mean creating your own blocks and taking prints out of it, why wouldn’t that be fascinating, right? We have put this as an elective subject in many institutes. So far, in NID (National Institute of Design) we have taken classes in 2019 for the fourth-year batch and in March 2020 we took it for the second-year batch.
Major turnover as an entrepreneur happened when I connected and got a chance to collaborate with big brands like LBB and FabIndia. There was no looking back after this as every week we began conducting workshops and within just six months we had done such workshops in 25 cities across India. The struggle as an entrepreneur began and continues today about how to manage it all. I am an artist first and that’s my skill but as an entrepreneur I had to teach myself to manage the finances, arrange and schedule the workshops , replying to the mails, answering the calls, and each big and small thing. Fortunately, we were able to rope in big names like Google, Book My Show, Chumbak, etc right in the beginning which has helped build the reputation and we have been able to get in regular work. And this in turn helped me learn to manage things right from the start.
The biggest motivation I drive is from doing stuff and proving myself and my worth. And there was always the ‘What next?” question in my mind once I finished a task or project on hand. This motivates me to keep moving further even today. If we talk about people motivation, I will say it is my mother because I have seen her work hard. Growing up seeing her always working inspired me a lot and even today I draw my motivation from her. Besides her, the support of my family and my husband has also played a major role in my successes so far.
The journey so far has been fulfilling even though slow and full of struggles. The future plan is to expand the business in terms of a physical space and presence because so far, we have only had a virtual working space. We recently moved to Mumbai from Bangalore and the aim now is to spread the word about our work in this new city. For Studio Tvastra we plan to make a small community space where we can conduct workshops regularly. For Studio Printmaking we aim to set up a space for equipment and for regular stay too, where artists from all over the world can get access to this artwork and learn all about it in a proper manner through these tools and equipment. All these will be made available to those who want to learn printmaking at zero cost. Here the aim is just to spread awareness and bring together like-minded people under one roof where they can thrive together.
My learnings have been that,
“If you want to learn and achieve something in life, consistency is most essential”
“If you are doing the same things again and again, and still failing at it, you need to understand the pattern and figure out where you are going wrong. Only then you will learn and improve.”
“Take a pause and look back at what you have done. Ask yourself is this what you wanted to do? If the answer is yes, you’re a success.
And if the answer is no, understand the problem and then keep moving ahead.”
The key is also to be open to learning new things and adapting to changes.
To drop in a message to Anjali, check out her amazing artworks and get updates on her latest workshops, follow the links below:
Anajli’s work as an artist and her various exhibitions have been featured on multiple online as well as offline platforms. You can have a look at one such feature through the link below:
Other personal and professional social media handles