Tuesday, November 08 2016, 07:33:29
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Drishti Bodhraj Premprakashi

JWB Blogger

JWB Paints A Cocky, Non-Chalant Conversation With The Artsy Kudi, BabbuThePainter

  • JWB Post
  •  November 3, 2016


What comes to your mind when you hear the name ‘Babbu’? TBH, when I think of ‘Babbu,’ I can picture a 5-year-old boy running around in his knickers.

Babbu is actually the name of a 22-year-old female artist from Canada.

To react to the gender politics happening around the world, especially in the Asian communities, Babneet Lakhesar aka ‘BabbuThePainter’ likes to illustrate the same. Besides being an illustrator, this talented and beautiful young woman also designs apparel with her artwork on it.

So yeah, I asked her for a Skype interview and for once, I managed to get a good connection here, LOL. You know my luck with Skype calls, doncha?

It was 4 p.m. in Toronto and midnight for me when Babneet and I started Skyping (TGIF). She was joined by her younger brother and her friend, Maria who also happens to be an illustrator. During our conversation, Babbu also told me that her father’s family is from Jaipur. WHAAAT?

I guess I should let Babbu talk more *nervous laughter*. Sowwie!

What is Babbu’s story and how did it inspire her to create this art?

The name Babbu came up because I wanted to keep my information private online. I mean it had pictures of me, but I didn’t want to reveal any more information about me there. As for the name, you’ll notice that Punjabi men mostly are called Babbu. I just went for it.

I started drawing about gender politics after I noticed what was happening in the society. I personally grew up in a progressive household. But because I am a woman, we aren’t put on the same platform as men in the society. I wanted to show people what it is to be a woman, what it is to have our skin tone being South Asians and how it affects us.


A photo posted by ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ B A B B U ❖ (@babbuthepainter) on

How would you describe your style of drawing?

I am very inspired by the art from the Mughal era. It usually features taking the main subject and putting it on a textured background. I use Mughal art and try to make it contemporary and maybe even use pop art with it sometimes.

How do you deal with racism as a desi in a foreign country?

I have gotten to that point in my life where I don’t take anything seriously *laughs*. I just feel like there’s no point in wasting energy on things like these. I just try to laugh it off, talk about it with my friends or make art about it.

AYE CHICAGO!😽👅 Babbu is coming to you this weekend at CSAFF FESTIVAL GALA w/ her ART && PATCHES && MAASTI && lots of BAKWAAS. Save the date 10.10.16. SEE YOU THEREEE🙀😽 Tickets and more info ~ www.csaff.org/tickets && Patches now available for purchase ~ babbuthepainter.com (pins & patches)🔥👅 Ph: @happyjazan

A photo posted by ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ B A B B U ❖ (@babbuthepainter) on

What are you working on now?

I like to make my work into series. I am working on a series of drawings on two kids. One is a transgender, and one is a homosexual. It highlights how they are treated because of their appearances. For the trans woman, it shows the transition from tattoos to mascara. I want to see how people react to this. I want to explore sexuality in my art. When I was in art school, 90 percent of the drawings were of naked women, and they were drawn by male artists. That made me think, why can’t women draw women? 

Babbu's Bae 💃🏽💕 MSG for purchasing inquiries.

A photo posted by ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ B A B B U ❖ (@babbuthepainter) on

Your art has often been censored online. What do you do to change the mindset of the society on the censorship?

You would expect that in 2016 at least – people would be open-minded about women being shirtless or women touching each other’s boobs. But we’re not there yet. I  mean, you have new ads by sanitary pad companies talking about how women are now ‘proud’ and embrace their periods. We embraced it earlier too. We just didn’t get a platform. I don’t really know we can get over this mindset. It’ll take a while, I guess.

If there were one artist from art history that you could hang out with for a day, who would that be?

When I actually read about my favorite artists, I’m like, ‘You’re not as cool as I thought you were.’ But yeah, if I had to choose one artist, I would choose DuChamp. He was a sculpture artist. What he did one time was that he had turned a urinal upside down and submitted it to a gallery and named it ‘Fountain.’ That’s pretty crazy. I think he wanted to show people that people will accept anything as art if it’s by a famous person.

What is the best feedback you have ever received?

Oh god, I have a really bad memory! *laughs* Well, a lot of people have come up to me and said that we appreciate you taking a step to highlight gender politics.

✨RANI✨ ft. @aaryahjewelry Ph: @yeahokayali In the shop now 💕 . . AARYAH collaborates with contemporary artist Babbu The Painter on a limited edition AARYAH X BABBU jacket. The one-of-a-kind denim creation features a hand-painted Rani (Queen) adorned in AARYAH pieces. Reinterpreting her traditional Indian roots with a modern twist, the Toronto-based painter is known for her edgy street style and quirky pop art. AARYAH’s Made In India new-age tribal jewelry comes to life on Babbu The Painter’s unique canvas.

A photo posted by ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ B A B B U ❖ (@babbuthepainter) on

Your favorite piece of clothing that displays your artwork?

The jackets are probably my favorite. But I’ve also started making these little pins with aunty in glasses, and you can pin those to your jacket. I love it.

How did you think of photoshopping yourself on movie posters?

*laughs* When I was in school, I figured out what Photoshop could do. It’s a lie, but I can live with it.

I’m surprised how no one’s called you for a casting call yet. TBH, I think you’d make a great Jasmine for a new adaptation of Aladin.

Tina stole Babbu's boy toy 👿👿

A photo posted by ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ B A B B U ❖ (@babbuthepainter) on

Does your art take inspiration from Bollywood?

For sure! I love how intricate designs from art influence Bollywood. Honestly, I am fascinated with how Bollywood presents everything in a comical and over-the-top way.

What is your favorite Bollywood movie?

Highway! And Kapoor and Sons! And Mughal-E-Azam! Yes! I LOVE THAT MOVIE! Everything about that movie was in proportion from the costumes to the acting!

The SRK & KAJOL Shirt now in BabbusDukaan! Happy shopping, FIRST FIVE BUYERS GET A FREE SHIRT 🙅🏻⚡️ Shop: etsy.com/shop/BabbusDukaan

A photo posted by ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ B A B B U ❖ (@babbuthepainter) on

How did you come up with the idea of desi-fying the Simpsons? Are you planning to desi-fy more cartoon characters?

Well, the idea isn’t really original. But I was watching The Simpsons one day, and I kinda thought, I love the Simpsons, and I love the Mughal era, and that’s how it just went forward, I guess. I want to make a comic strip about The Simpsons taking on the Mughals.


A photo posted by ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ B A B B U ❖ (@babbuthepainter) on

I want to make Rajput/Mughal versions of many characters, but I won’t do that unless I make a whole series about it.

Guess what? This Indian Simpsons series does not include Apu!

How would you describe the personality of the women you draw?

Strong, cocky, nonchalant, don’t give a shit. Basically, like me *laughs*. I want to show woman power without having the in-your-face element to it. It’s all about women who embrace themselves and each other.

Babbu's got some kurkure. 💥💥

A photo posted by ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ B A B B U ❖ (@babbuthepainter) on

I’ve heard you’ve acted in a web series. What was it about and what was it like to act?

It was . And it was about three best friends who were South Asians and they just talk about life and their issues in general. I played the best friend of the lead.

Anyway, acting did not work out for me, lol.

What is ‘shame shame’?

It was a show in Toronto that Maria Qamar and I organized. Basically, it was to tell how South Asians go for choosing different career paths. Like how Maria and I got into arts, we were always asked ‘Do you make money?’

We’re also planning to do a show called ‘Love Shot’ in London which highlights weddings in the South Asian community. You’ll notice how weddings in our community are about everyone but the bride and groom. Like, it’s their day!

Did anyone else think about ‘Shame shame puppy shame’?

What was your reaction to seeing Mindy Kaling follow you on Instagram?

Oh, my god! We were dying! She followed both Maria and me at the same time. It’s like, you can’t know one of us without knowing the other. So when she followed us, we were calling each other, and we were like, ‘Dude are you seeing this?’ And then, she was liking and commenting on our pictures, and we were having mini shocks from all of it.

Later, her project manager sent us an email, and that was the cherry on the top. She also called us later saying that she wanted us to send them some artwork to feature on her show.

🔥🔥OH MY GAW.🔥🔥 Shoutouts to @mindykaling for the support!!! Babbu's and @hatecopy pieces will be on The Mindy Kaling Project this season!! Look out for them! Gonna go eat a tub of cookie dough ice cream and jalebis to celebrate!!!😭😭 #girlpower #zindagiisgood

A photo posted by ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ B A B B U ❖ (@babbuthepainter) on

I guess it is safe to say that we’re friends now *laughs*. We have a show in LA in November and hopefully, she’ll be there.

I remember how Steve Carell’s character on The Office tried to fake an Indian accent in front of Mindy Kaling and he got slapped, lol.

Babneet: Oh my god, yes! Everyone here looks at us and goes like, ‘Namaste!’

Maria: We cannot tell you about all the unsolicited ‘Namastes’ that have been thrown our way! *laughs*

💥COMING SOON💥 'The Daler Mehndi Shirt &&. The Rekha Shirt' ph: @sainin

A photo posted by ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ B A B B U ❖ (@babbuthepainter) on

What kind of environment do you like to have when you’re painting?

I cannot work in a quiet environment. I need to have a TV show or a movie playing in the background. And usually, for times like these, Bollywood movies are the best because you don’t really have to watch them understand them. And I can’t multitask so… yeah. I’m only good at art *laughs*.

Same, bro. I need one song and Korean drama playing simultaneously as I work.

What four things would I find on your bucket list?

  1. Go skydiving
  2. Travel the world and take my work everywhere.
  3. Hire Beyonce out for an entire weekend and make her sing for me whenever I want.
  4. Make a fashion line with Sabyasachi

I want to wear a Sabyasachi dress on my wedding in India, have a ring worth 40k, and I want to enter on an elephant or it’s not happening. *laughs*

By the time we ended the conversation, it was already way past 1. Time sure flies by when you’re having fun, huh?

Anyway, check Babneet/Babbu’s work on her Instagram. Believe me, her art is as on point as her makeup is.

Until then, in the words of Apu from The Simpsons,

Thank you.

Come Again.

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