From Canvas to Commerce: Artist Vrinda Inspires Artisans to Up-skill and Strategise Success

From Canvas to Commerce

This week we take you to meet Jaipur , Rajasthan based artist Vrinda Dugar – who is also a surface pattern designer. She initially studied commerce, then went on to get a masters degree in English Literature. But being passionate about art from a very young age, today her artworks have become commercial designs! And she says with little education and more tech-self-support can help scale anyone to newer heights.

The Think Pot lets Vrinda tell her story, before we get into the usual QandA session to help the fellow artisans understand how they can also scale up their works.

Vrinda continues to share, “Growing up, my fascination with art was undeniable. Despite pursuing commerce initially, my heart always leaned towards the creative world. After completing a master’s degree in English Literature, I decided to follow my passion and ventured into the world of art. My journey into the realm of art began during my college years, where I juggled academics and side gigs, working on art commissions. The transition from university to a full-time artist happened organically. A friend’s suggestion led me to showcase my artworks to a reputed export/design house, marking the beginning of my formal training in design. Under their guidance, I learned the intricacies of design, discovering that art and design are two sides of the same coin.”

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What kept her going, considering in India, art is not considered a full time occupation for anyone! She smiles onto add, “For me, both art and design are interconnected, relying on creativity as their driving force. They share fundamental principles and often overlap, making the transition seamless. Art has always been a way for me to express my emotions, a therapeutic process that I continue to carry into my design work. As a surface pattern designer, I’ve come to realize that design, like art, is a medium to convey emotions, stories, and concepts. Both disciplines emphasize developing a strong underlying concept, guiding the creative process and adding depth to the final product. The distinction between art and design may exist, but the fluid interplay between them allows for diverse forms of creative expression.”

“My dream was to see my artwork come alive on textiles, products, and more. As a full-time freelance artist without a formal degree in design, I embraced each challenge, learning and growing with every opportunity.”

And now that her dream has come true, lets ask her some straight questions to help other artisans get some knowledge as well as inspiration to get to the heights of better success and earnings:

Artful Entrepreneurship:

Vrida’s Tale of Thriving in Commercial Design

Vrinda can you initially share with us, what all you do now, considering that when I first interviewed you in 2018, you were just beginning to scale up as an amateur artist?

I design for home decor, apparel, textiles, stationery, kidswear, wedding invitations etc. Each product is different, so it requires the design to be different. The vision is different, the printing technique is different.As a designer it’s essential to keep all this in mind. If a client goes for block printing, there are limited color options ( as you have to keep the cost factor in mind too unless the client desires otherwise ) , so you have to work around 3-4 colors . If a client wishes to opt for screen printing then there are some who work with screens up to six colors. There are some who work with screens up to 25 to 26 colors and upwards to 32 screens. There’s digital printing, where there is no lid on the number of colors that can be used.

For instance, while designing textiles for clothing, the design to be unidirectional and/or two directional. But for home decor textiles, it’s a requirement for the design to be two directional .So there are a lot of things you have to keep in mind to get the design right in different product verticals. I’m still learning but in all honesty, I enjoy every moment of it !! When you’re passionate about what you do , when you enjoy your work then it doesn’t seem like work at all . Rather a fulfilling and enjoyable endeavor.

What challenges did you face when transitioning from traditional art to a more commercial and diverse approach to art, and how did you overcome them?

While making the transition, I faced some minor hurdles . Nothing too big to overcome . I initially struggled with personal vision and what sells. I needed to understand the tastes and preferences of my target demographic and what commercially sells . But with time, persistence and patience, a little online education, consistently reading up on the latest trends, fashion etc , subscriptions to glossy magazines, exploring and visiting lesser known boutiques, small time designers , antique shops and local markets on my travels – I learned so much about design and all that it entails . It’s an ongoing process, but no complaints here!

Different commercial and digital art mediums often require new technical skills. I had to learn how to use software and tools I was less familiar with like Photoshop , Illustrator etc. I enrolled for a course in the same – an hour 3-4 days a week for 2 months did the trick .

Another alternative is hiring or delegating the digital making of the file to individuals who work on CAD ( computer aided design )on a regular basis . That leaves the designer with more time to ideate and paint. Balancing personal art projects with commercial work can be demanding. Initially it was difficult to find time for both and I used to feel overwhelmed. But I gradually set myself a routine. I generally spend the first half of the day working on ideas and sketching designs . The evenings go into painting and working on art commissions. When I work into the nights , it’s generally always on designs and painting prints . Sometimes I divide my week into design and art days – I may spend 3 days working on a painting. Once completed , I assign the next 4 days to design entirely . This prioritization depends on the deadlines to meet and ( most of the time ) on my mood !!

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In your experience, how can artists, especially those from diverse backgrounds, explore new avenues for showcasing their work and making a living from it?

I have seen artists from diverse backgrounds can explore new avenues for showcasing their work and making a living by:

  • Online Presence: Build a strong online presence through social media platforms to reach a global audience.
  • Collaborations: Collaborate with other artists and creatives to expand your network and gain exposure.
  • Art Education: Teach workshops or offer online courses to share your expertise and generate income.
  • Networking: Attend art-related events, join art associations, and connect with peers in the industry.
  • Persistence: Stay committed to your craft and continue creating, even in the face of challenges.
  • Consistency and Quality: Consistently produce high-quality artwork, as your reputation for quality can attract a global following.

It’s important to remember that building a sustainable career in the arts may take time, so perseverance and adaptability are key.

How important is it for artists to understand the business side of their art, including marketing and sales, to improve their income and reach a wider audience?

Artists need to sell their work to sustain their careers. Knowledge of pricing, sales techniques, and revenue streams is essential for financial stability. Effective marketing helps artists connect with a broader audience, increasing their visibility and potential customer base.In a changing art landscape, artists who adapt to new marketing techniques and sales channels are more likely to thrive.While artistic talent is essential, combining it with business acumen can significantly impact an artist’s success and financial well-being. Understanding market trends can help an artist tailor their work to meet demand, potentially increasing sales. Artists can promote their work by participating in exhibitions and events thereby attracting attendees and buyers. Leveraging social media to one’s advantage is also a most effective way to be seen and thereby make sales .

In what ways do you believe technology and digital platforms have opened up new opportunities for artists to connect with a global audience and increase their earning potential?

Technology and digital platforms have indeed opened up numerous opportunities for artists to connect with a global audience and increase their earning potential in various ways:

  • Online Galleries and Marketplaces: Artists can showcase and sell their work on platforms like Etsy, Saatchi Art, and ArtStation, reaching a vast online audience.
  • Social Media: Artists can use platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to share their work, engage with followers, and gain a global following.
  • Personal Websites: Building and maintaining an artist’s website allows for full creative control and direct interaction with potential buyers.
  • Digital Art: The rise of digital art opens up new markets, such as NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens), which enable artists to sell and license digital art in unique ways.
  • E-learning: Artists can create and sell online courses or tutorials, sharing their knowledge with a global audience. YouTube and Skillshare are two such platforms.

How can artists balance their artistic integrity with the demands of commercial art and the need to make a living? What’s your approach to this delicate balance?

It’s absolutely possible to find a balance that allows you to maintain your artistic integrity while working in commercial settings. Clearly define your artistic values and what you’re not willing to compromise with. This provides a foundation for making decisions that align with your integrity.

  • Focus on opportunities that resonate with your artistic vision or provide creative freedom.
  • Be transparent about your process and artistic choices. Explain the reasons behind your creative decisions to clients or collaborators to foster understanding and trust.

What works best for me is a combination of being transparent about my process and the consistent need to work and provide only the best quality artwork / design . If there’s something I can’t do or unsure about, I say it out loud OR take help to get it done.

What do you see as the future of art and its intersection with various industries, and how can artists prepare themselves for this evolving landscape?

The future of art will be shaped by the convergence of technology, changing consumer preferences, and global trends. Artists who adapt, innovate, and remain resilient will be well-prepared to thrive in this evolving landscape.

  • NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) and blockchain technology are likely to play a significant role in how art is created, owned, and traded. AI-generated art has already gained attention, and it will likely become more integrated into artistic practices. Art experiences in augmented and virtual reality will become more common. More and more museums, galleries, and artists will use AR/VR to create immersive, interactive installations.
  • Artists will use their work to raise awareness and influence societal discussions and herald change. Intersection of art with biotechnology, known as bioart, will continue to evolve, exploring themes related to genetics, biology, and life sciences.
  • Artists from different cultures will collaborate and share their artistic perspectives, fostering cross-cultural understanding.

The future of art will be characterized by its adaptability and interdisciplinary nature. Artists who embrace technology, engage with global audiences, and explore new mediums will have opportunities to make a significant impact in a rapidly evolving art landscape. The boundaries between art and various industries will continue to blur, providing fresh avenues for artistic expression and engagement.

If you have such a story of innovative thinking-triggering ideas, do share your journey to inspire others. Write to us at