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Mrinalika Jain: My Life As A Decorative Painter

  • JWB Post
  •  September 8, 2015

 

Did you attend the last Forex event? Meeting various artisans from different cities was a delight in itself. Allow me to narrate the story of one such artist who impressed me beyond words.

The art of Mrinalika Jain, a Jaipur based art-entrepreneur, caught my attention in a jiffy during Forex. 68Mrinalika is the owner of ‘Kaushalam’ – a collection of unique hand painted home decor & lifestyle products. She paints Indian artworks on daily-use items like tea kettles, cups, handis, tea cups, letter box, lanterns, bowls, plates, etc.78

The list is long and so to ensure I see every such thing that ‘Kaushalam’ makes, I decided to meet Mrinalika. A quite, serene yet cheerful Mrinalika will impress you at first sight.  Her master-degree in fine arts and training under famous artist, Pandit Dwarka Prasad Sharma, made Mrinalika confident and sure of her 1st ever career move.99

“I was in college when I started learning from Pandit ji. I focused on realistic art, and by the time I was a college pass-out, I was already a connoisseur in madhubani, vani, miniatures, warli, gond art from M.P, etc. After that, I became a regular in exhibitions. I did freelance work and made paintings on order. In 2012, I realized I need to take this further and launched ‘Kaushalam’. It is named after my late father, wherein his name has been gelled with a term that means ‘skill sets’”, told Mrinalika.44

She studied how much tribal and traditional artworks attract people outside India. To make a strong team at ‘Kaushalam’, she hired local artisans, especially women.

86She remarked, “I employed illiterate women living in villages located in the outskirts of Jaipur. I taught each one of them different arts and how to paint on vessels, etc. My motive was also to empower them financially. I remember this one woman who wanted to start her life afresh after she walked out of an abusive marriage.” I was eager to meet those women employees.89

“So what was your turning point, Mrinalika”, I asked. To which she replied, “During an art exhibition, Princess of Jaipur, Diya Kumari praised my tea kettles. She loved them so much that she right away offered me a big space in the City Palace to setup my art-shopee. That moment was unbelievable!! This was a brilliant platform for me since the City Palace is crowded with tourists.”88

But the big victory came along with a barrier. Experienced & renowned male artisans were already ruling Palace’s shopping area for many years which made Mrinalika a little fearful. Adding to all this was the cold gesture she received from these ‘old men with weighty moustache’. “Moreover, I was the 1st female who got a space there making it a conversation-barrier factor”, she remembered.54

Mrinalika continued, “…but being a woman had its own benefits. The tourists found it more comfortable to deal with a woman-seller!”00

Mrinalika has come a long way since then. Starting from a tiny stall at a local public gallery, today ‘Kaushalam’ sells at Fabfurnish.com, Discovered.US, and many other online portals. At Discovered, Mrinalika is the 1st ever Indian artist to be featured. Apart from the online businesses, ‘Kaushalam’ has found space in your favorite cafes too! Wagh Bakri and Evergreen tea lounges in India use Kaushalam’s tea culinary sets while serving to their customers. 77

Her workplace looks like a museum with paintings and other art pieces placed all around. Intrigued, I asked her about the expansion plans. She said, “Kaushalam will be enlarged for sure. I am planning to open a small café where food and beverages will be served in Kaushalam’s items. People can relax in the open garden area while sipping their favorite tea or coffee. I really wish my 1st customers be Team JWB!”55

Just before we ended our chat-session, Mrinalika quoted John F. Kennedy – “If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him. True that!

Photo courtesy: Nupur Agarwal

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