We sat down with this week’s Spotlight Artist, Indrani Mitra, to discuss the feeling of creating physical versus digital art, literary inspirations, balancing family and art, and more.
MP: Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your history as both an artist and as someone who sells NFTs?
IM: At this point, my definition revolves around being a mom, a wife, a daughter-in-law, and, when time allows, an artist. So yes, personal and professional life collide in chaos most days, and on rare occasions, when breathing is allowed, colors flow out.
When I was a very young girl in India, I took dance classes and found I had two left feet. Then came singing, where I spent most of my time annoying my mom, who tried to teach me how to sing. The only place where I could immerse myself and be a perfectly quiet little person was in art classes.
I had the most amazing three years of art class. The teacher gave you complete freedom to do as you pleased yet somehow guided and taught concepts. That was the end and beginning of it.
I never found another mentor like that nor the time to formally pursue the craft. I know one can pursue one’s passion by disregarding everything, but being an only child — and an overly responsible one at that — tends to put a spanner in the works.
Then one day, a few months after I started painting again after 20 or so years, Makersplace reached out, and the rest is history. I didn’t even know what NFTs were, but this community pulled me in. No matter what happens after this, whether I make it as an artist or not, 2018–2020 will stay precious, and all those people will always be in my heart.
MP: As someone who’s primarily worked with physical art materials, can you tell about your transition to selling work digitally?
IM: The selling part is always difficult. I have not found it very different from selling physical art. You have to know the right people, say the right things, market the right way, and in today’s world stay visible and “influence.” I wish I had the gumption to do it, but my inner self rebels and says to leave it. If it is good enough, the art will see light someday.
What I did find difficult is adjusting to the tools. While digital tools are very convenient, I also find that the “shortcuts” on offer tend to diminish my enjoyment, so I never use them. There is something very cathartic in filling up spaces with designs or colors that the “fill” command does not provide. Or doing things from scratch.
Selling has never been the driver. Yes, it is an acknowledgment, but letting that drive my art tends to make me feel like a production machine and not a breathing, feeling human. You could say I have this habit of not thinking about it.
MP: Your MakersPlace bio mentions that you read quite a bit and that your reading is a big influence on your work: can you tell me how a book influenced some specific pieces of yours? What books most influenced your work?
IM: I tend to read poetry because they don’t take much time but provide enough raw material to think and ponder. There is no single source or single author that influences or drives the imagination. Sometimes stray words written on the internet or a wall will do it for me.
But since you asked, I feel I should answer. Rabindranath Tagore, Abanindanath Tagore, Mary Oliver, T.S.Eliot, Emily Dickinson, Naomi Shihab Nye, Audre Lord, and the list goes on. Part of my work is also from my childhood memories, snatches of conversations with my kids, or something I’m experiencing.
MP: Has the explosion of the NFT market affected your work or creative process at all?
I am grateful that there are individuals who appreciate and like my work, but this has been a lifelong urge. I painted before any sale or appreciation. I continued to paint through the NFT boom and will do so even if it dies.
The process of painting has slowed down more because of things opening up after COVID and family taking priority. The creative process happens, but its implementation is way slower than it had been in the past couple of years.
MP: How would you describe your work to a recently blinded art historian?
IM: My work is still Because I wish you to stay and take it in Imagine all the colors In fine strings Spun into beings That speak of things hidden deep within
Imagine all the colors
MP: Are you interested in or inspired by any particular digital artists making NFTs?
IM: Inspiration, to me, is a beautiful thing because it does not follow rules, does not think of style, and does not conform. I have met some wonderful people on this journey, and their souls shine bright. Not all of them create, but they all, in some way or form, inspire me to keep doing this, to stay true to myself when I paint. There have been many times when I have second-guessed myself, but these friends have, time again, helped me regain faith and go back to the drawing board.