“Bhuli” is a society in the making that aims to revive the Indian Cottage Industry through arts and crafts. We interviewed the lovely Tanya Kotnala about Bhuli’s essence, what inspires her and her view on the empowerment of women. Read and soak in Tanya’s powerful words and artwork.
- What is Bhuli’s goal in the long run? What is the ideology followed?
Bhuli was born out of my fascination for the diverse Indian arts and crafts culture. For past two years I worked intimately with rural crafts clusters and religiously maintained sketchbooks for the same. Inspired by the ideology of Swadesi, me and my team now plan to develop Bhuli as a society that promotes women empowerment and generates employment across the rural Himalayan belt.
2. What was the initial reaction to Bhuli?
It took me almost a year to figure out what direction this can head to. Initially people really liked the idea of celebrating Indian arts and crafts in contemporary fashion through daily illustrations. But it was during the release of the first print project, Bhuli’s Calendar 2017, that things started to gain traction, within days my audience expanded and the response was overwhelming, soon I had orders from abroad. It was surprising since I operated from a small city and lacked the kind of exposure that’s a must have for any designer, but somehow things worked out really well 🙂
3. What inspires you the most?
Diversity and authenticity celebrated by a various indigenous communities in India. Whenever I get to interact with people during my rural fieldwork, there’s always something new to share! That inspires me to the core! I live in the Himalayan foothills and love travelling across the belt, I think that really helps me to achieve the kind of focus required to ideate my inspirations.
4. Do you have any advice for upcoming teenage illustrators and artists?
Out of my personal experiences, I think patience and practise is the key, it can take a while for an artist to find inspiration and develop a personal style. As for the source of inspiration, it is beneficial if you get to travel and come across newer experiences however inspirations can be derived from everywhere, so why restrict creative minds to the conventional ways listed out there? Don’t 🙂 Find things that inspires you and work honestly towards it.
5. Do you have any tips to overcome a creative block?
I wish I had a 100 % assured tip, but it’s really different for everybody. Blocks happen to me if I get my mind overworked, whenever I am struggling with a block, I leave it all right there on my desk and divert myself, switch to baking, go out meet friends (ask their opinion) or take a stroll or just read a book.
And if I am still stuck, I repeat all the above and eventually it goes away, there have been occasional times when it just won’t work out for me, so instead I try to dig deeper or find a different approach to work it out. That helps, almost all the time!
6. What are your views on feminism and female empowerment in general?
While working with the indigenous tribes of Meghalaya I was absolutely enthused to observe women driven societies. The North eastern matriarchal societies have a number of lessons to learn from. Traditional families in Meghalaya are matrilineal, the Khasi community take pride in the fact that no dowry system exists in its practices and it’s also a community where women are comparatively freer than their counterparts in the rest of India. Weaving is practised by women across the Northeast India (unlike elsewhere in India), identifying them as prime contributor to the state’s economy. It’s not even a saying, for me it’s a known fact that when women are empowered, she uplifts the whole household and power is shared more gracefully among the genders in comparison to patriarchal societies.
I truly believe in equal rights for all the genders that are out there, I think we should really focus on respecting, promoting and supporting human rights (regardless of gender, caste, creed or whatever) that is to me, the best way one can contribute to the society.
Also, I find grownups pretty hopeless (haha) but I wholeheartedly believe in the supremacy of the young minds, if we are able to educate them well (not just academic wise but also morally) I think we can have a wonderful future awaiting us 🙂
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