Every production of an artist should be the expression of an adventure of his soul. ~ W. Somerset Maugham
Today I am in conversation with Sandhya Vaidyanathan, owner of Masala Popsicles. An architect by profession, Sandhya had always loved painting and illustrating. Having grown up Dubai and now living in Bangalore, she started Masala Popsicles in 2011 with the ambition to do something for herself. What started with a few terracotta pots is now one very sought after craft store.
I have been a fan of Sandhya’s artwork since years now and two things I always marvel at are – the designs are always unique and all her designs have so many different aspects to them, as if telling a new story everytime. Talking about Masala Popsicles, Sandhya told me, “Masala Popsicles is about weaving individual artistic stories for the customers. I do only commissioned and restoration work, so what I specialize in, is taking something old old and making it brand new or bring it back to its original glory and creating something beautiful that is made keeping in mind the customers, tastes, preference of colour etc. My artwork is a lot like story-telling. Each product is different, I have never replicated or made a duplicate of my own product, so what a customer gets is entirely fresh, never made before and the only piece in the world.
Every work comes with its own set of challenges and what might seem like a smooth functioning job, would have problems only the person doing it would know. Sandhya’s first major challenge was what practically all of us creative people feel. Explaining the costing to clients. The common notion is that creating something is easy and while the product will make us happy or even bring us new business, it is okay if we underpay. It isn’t easy being a freelance creative artist and Sandhya too faced the same. “It has been a task to explain to people why things are priced this way. In India, appreciating artists and art is a
relatively new trend and I repeatedly get asked, “Why is tis so expensive?” Another thing is the collective mindset of few people that if they are paying for something, they own the creator’s time. Art cannot be pushed; one needs to be patient. Being called up at 1am to know the status of the work you have been commissioned is not something delightful to undergo.”
Wow, that must be a real test of her patience! “One needs to be extremely patient and calm while dealing with several questions and enquiries that come regarding orders. I’ve found that explaining to them in detail helps, and also being truthful about timelines and expectations does wonders. One must not take on more that’s one can chew, for it can lead to a lot of confusion and problems.”
Moving away from work, we talk about Sandhya’s life growing up. “My childhood was cushioned and protected. I was born and brought up I’m Dubai. My parents lived in Dubai for almost 38 years. My father was a big influence in my childhood growing up. He encouraged me to paint and draw and even enrolled me into professional classes very young. I learnt to paint from Mrs. Simita Roy, who was a graduate of Calcutta School of Art. I studied under her for several years, till I went to college to study.” By qualification, Sandhya is an architect from Dr. Bhanuben Nanavati College of Architecture. “College was way more fun than school was; I decided to come to India to study Architecture and design. My first choice was to become a chef, since I loved cooking so much, but I was discouraged by family members, since they said the professional kitchen was not a place for women. College was a place I realised my true potential in design and art. I had several avenues to showcase my creativity, also help me develop a positive and strong mindset, which has later helped me start this business and run it.”
Sandhya is one very strong woman and her favourite quote is “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.” Inspired by her mother who had worked for several years and being surrounded by many inspirational women, she thinks of someone who has had it worse than her and draws inspiration from them. She believes that, “You have to love yourself and inspire yourself every day. Women need to help lift other women; we have to ensure we support and help other women achieve their dreams and inspire each other.”
Sandhya has had two near death experiences and one stint in the Critical care ICU on a life support machine. Her philosophy in life is, “The tragedy of life is not death, but what we let die inside of us when we are still alive.” She says that her learning from these experiences is that we need to live life more vicariously, laugh more, make more memories and stop cribbing. If you have 2 meals a day, a roof above your head and clothes to wear, you are better off that 60% of the world’s population. I’ve now learnt to love myself, the body I came in and the brain and heart I’ve been gifted – we must make use of them beautifully.”
A typical day in Sandhya’s life starts at 7 am, and since her studio is at home, she is able to balance housework along with her art seamlessly. “Once breakfast, etc. is done and the morning chores of laundry and other errands are done, I do a little work at around noon. It’s a quiet time then, since there isn’t much happening around the house . At around 12 I start preparing lunch (since my husband comes home for lunch) and once that is done, I work from 2-3 pm again (the natural sunlight helps ) . I take a nap from 3-5 since I work very late into the night. When I’m done with kitchen work at 9pm, I start my artwork again at around 11 and go on till 2 am, this is the most peaceful and productive time for me.”
Sandhya’s creations are spellbinding and we wish that someday they find a place each in every household in the world.