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Interview with Artist Niloufer Wadia: Why I Become An Artist After 2 Decades In Advertising

Artist Niloufer Wadia

There is something about the 'women' painted by Niloufer that puts a smile on your face. Like a fairytale they take you to a wonderland, a place where everything is brimming with life, passion and happiness. 

We interviewed Niloufer, an upcoming Indian artist, to find out the secrets behind her charming damsels and what inspired her to become an artist.

What inspired you to become an artist?

I don't think anything or anyone can inspire you to be an artist. It starts from within, and either you ignore that deep urge or you strive to improve on it.

I have always had a talent to draw well, and my training was in Applied Art with specialization in Illustration. I spent over 20 years in Advertising, but with the increasing influence of computer in our lives, design and visuals have little or no hand-drawn requirements. My doodling and sketching continued of course and then I started working with more dedication, completing sketching and making them into artworks. My original art was detailed pencil work and Islowly moved into experimenting with acrylics as recently as 4 years ago.

What do you like the most about being an artist?

I see everything in terms of visuals and colors, be it a book I'm reading, or even remembering the position of subject matter on a textbook page when I was studying. Not everyone sees things this way; it helps you visualize the world around you very differently.

But, one of the most satisfying experiences of being an artist is to meet people who are awed when they realize you can draw and paint for a living. That's good for the ego J, though of course the expertise of other artists can always bring you back to earth.

Tell us about your work? What are you currently working on?

My earlier work, mostly in pencil; was detailed black and white works celebrating the Indian woman in her various guises and moods.  More recently I have started working in acrylics. They are the other extreme -- with vivid color, drawing from my background in graphic design - melding a contemporary and international graphic style, shapes and vibrancy with traditional Indian themes and situations.

When did you start painting and how did you learn to paint?

Ever since I can remember, I have always sketched and drawn women. It started with making illustrations in my history textbooks that would acquire large and heavily made up eyes, and all margins would be adorned. Back then while art teachers and my family were very encouraging and appreciative, they always said, "But why don't you learn to draw something more than women," so I never felt I was brilliant in any way. Now I still draw mostly women with big eyes, but people call it my style.

Painting itself, I've always found more difficult. Even today I feel I have a long way to go to being as comfortable as I am with the pencil or even pen. But as that wise guy says, its all about the practice, practice, practice and experimentation.

What has been your biggest source of inspiration? What's your favorite subject to paint?

Women, women and more women!!

Women from all walks of life have inspired me and fascinated me at the same time. They have enabled me to explore and discover the artist inside me.

Over the years, I am been fascinated by hundreds of artists from all over the world. But, the art of Jamini Roy and an artist called Alfredo Lopez brought me to the sudden realization one day that a graphic, design based and simplified form in art could also be considered 'fine art'; something I had doubted before.

What was the best advice given to you as an artist? 

It hasn't been given to me personally but I strongly go by the dictum that talent counts for just 1%, perspiration, patience and practice makes up the rest.

While I was still in advertising - as recent as one and a half years back, I often went 2-3 months without touching a canvas. Then it became even harder and scarier to re-start. I felt like I couldn't even remember what colors I usually used to make up a skin tone. Now I paint at least 3 days a week and everything is so much easier and relaxed. Though of course, by no means perfect.

If you were not an artist, what would you rather be?

I don't have the training to be anything else, but medicine and the whole healthcare world interests me immensely. And of course I would like to write. I suppose that is like painting, in words.

If you could live and paint at one place/city in the world for your entire life, where would that be?

Europe. I had a brief encounter with Greece and Italy when I did an art workshop in Crete and spent almost 45 days between the 2 countries. It is beautiful, and clean and quaint, and modern without losing its culture and heritage.

But I think India with its vibrancy and color is what suits me best. Travelling here though, is so much tougher, starting with just getting a ticket. Everything needs great planning ahead, especially if I plan to travel alone.

How do you keep yourself busy, when you are not painting?

I have a 6 year old so there is enough to keep me busy. Now that I've quit advertising I do very little design, but I also do digital illustrations for websites, book covers and microstock. In fact that often eats into too much into time I should be painting.

While Niloufer says that her career as a fine artist has just started, we believe the journey began way long back, when she was doodling on her history books. Now, that she is dedicating a lot more time to painting, we look forward to seeing her beautiful damsel become larger than life and spin a web of dreams and stories.

After all, life is not about machines; it's about love, passion and emotions. And, we look forward to Niloufer's new work that would tingle the dreamer inside all of us.  

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