The queen of arts

Palette play

The queen of arts

Give her a plain boring white wall and chances are she will unleash her creative genius to turn it into a piece of art. Give her a piece of stone and she most definitely will breathe life into it, transforming it into a quirky paper weight or something less ordinary.

To say the least, New Delhi-based painter, fashion designer, interior decorator and tattoo artist Manvee Singh seems to have a lot going for her. Life for her, she says, “is all about being curious and experimenting with unconventional ways of approaching design.” She laughingly describes herself as the “Jack of all trades”, but we know that her body of work tells a different tale.

Amongst numerous paintings, sketches and artefacts that fill up Manvee’s room in her east Delhi residence, a quaint, hand painted sewing machine sitting in the corner, quietly gives away her love for experimenting with colours and her ability to transform even the most mundane of things into unique objects of art.

Besides taking on commissioned art projects, Manvee does wall murals, designs concept furniture and offers complete home make-over solutions using art, customised graphics and other products. For all of this and more, she says, “I work along with my team of artisans and use different mediums to try and convert each and every product into a unique piece in itself.”

When she is not painting or sketching, Manvee can be found blogging or learning music, working on a potter’s wheel or sometimes — indulging her senses in a bit of photography. With so much going on, I couldn’t help but ask which art form was closest to her. “Painting is my all-time favourite,” she reveals. “I grew up watching my mother paint, and was drawn towards it from an early age.”

Having said that, a career in art and design, surprisingly, wasn’t her first choice when she finished high school. Despite the artistic streak in her, she had wanted to study medicine. But, when her father suggested she should sit for the NIFT entrance exams, she took his advise, cleared the exam, and made a choice in favour of art — bidding farewell to a career in medicine. At NIFT, Mumbai, she graduated with a degree in fashion designing.

“Ever since I was in school, I loved designing my own clothes,” she remembers, “ I would choose the fabric, settle upon a design, and my mom would stitch it up for me. I don’t recall ever wearing anything readymade.”

Years later, when she found herself working with various export houses in Mumbai, “a regular designer’s job” as she calls it, “and one where true appreciation for your work is rare,” Manvee knew her heart lay elsewhere. Giving it all up was not easy, but she took a leap of faith, moved back to Delhi to be with her parents, and rediscovered her first love — painting.

One of the first assignments she took up involved doing up a friend’s living room wall. Next came a wall mural for a popular café and an IT firm, both projects based out of Gurgaon. Manvee’s reputation soon grew by word of mouth and work started rolling in.

But not all is smooth sailing when it comes to making a place for yourself in the art world, Manvee confesses. She does rue about the fact that there are challenges of being a self- taught artist, and there are times when she misses having a degree in art, especially while dealing with clients who insist on seeing qualifications. Though, most of them come around after seeing her works, she adds.

Currently, she is working on a series of paintings for a premiere hospitality brand and is also in talks for working on automotive accessories. A major portion of her work revolves around painting portraits, especially deities and that of couples in love. As an artist, she explores various mediums and subjects, but she can’t seem to explain her fascination with eyes. She claims, she can happily engage in sketching and painting eyes — endlessly.

But, what caught my eye, was the ‘Deity’ series. This collection is exclusively designed around the Hindu gods and goddesses — baby portraits of Krishna, Shiva, Ganesha and Saraswati. You can see them on wall paintings, on incense holders, on bags, as fridge magnets, or as a set of adorable badges. “My inspiration for the God series came from my fascination for Lord Shiva. I wanted to move away from conventional depictions and visualise him in his childhood. The final product inspired me to work with other gods and goddesses, and the deity series was born.”

“These portraits have been so well appreciated that quite a few people have decided to get them done as tattoos,” she excitedly shares. Most of her work on the ‘Deity’ series is available for sale through various online portals.

Besides work, Manvee also likes to spend time with friends or simply stay in and play with the two dogs she rescued during the Mumbai floods. Out of a total of 10 dogs she saved, these two stayed on and have travelled with her everywhere. Being an avid animal lover, she is also happy taking on work related to customised pet portraits.

So, what does the future have in store for Manvee, who dons so many hats? She insists, “I don’t make plans, instead, I just want to take each day as it comes and I want to produce some good work, consistently.” For someone who doesn’t believe in living a planned life, Manvee sure has plans to acquire a bike, and a Bullet at that. Biking, of course, is one more thing she is hugely passionate about. And, the way I see it, this talented artist is all set to ride her shining set of wheels to success.

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