“Art Is Yet To Reach Our Priority List”: Shikhant Sablania

Shikhant a.k.a Choorma is a young, self-taught artist working on different media, from painting, illustration to comics and graphic design. Primarily an illustrator, he derives his inspiration from the ironies of life that we tend to overlook, about life and mostly the things that matter in the current day and age.

You can see his works here: www.choorma.com or fb.com/thechoorma

Ashish: What is the story behind you becoming an artist?
Shikhant Sablania: I was studying to become and engineer from one of the “good” colleges of our country then during my 5th semester i decided that engineering is not my thing, i was curious all right, i was interested in creating but the field of engineering did not interest me enough. So i started doing what i loved the most — drawing. And then moved on to graphic design, illustration and painting.

Ashish: What inspires you to put your energy into art?
Shikhant Sablania: Everyday things, the beauty of everyday absurdity, the mundane, the exciting, everything related to life and the environment that we live in. Its inspiring, it motivates me to put it on record, bend it, transform it, try to develop a meaning out of the idea of existence.

Ashish: What materials do you use in your paintings?
Shikhant Sablania: What ever is readily available and seems interesting, acrylic, water color, ink, mostly. Oil is something that i used to work with, but not much anymore. Then there is digital, i make a lot of digital illustrations these days.

Ashish: How have you evolved as an artist? (your journey so far)
Shikhant Sablania: It’s not a long journey, as yet, i don’t think its even worth describing, but if you ask, i think i have evolved to see the absurd in the mundane, and maybe try to find a meaning or the utter loss of it in the world that i see around myself.

Ashish: Who is/are your favorite artist(s)? And why?
Shikhant Sablania: I don’t know anymore. The artist i used to like are not my favorite anymore. Nothing comes to my mind currently.

Ashish: As an artist what do you think needs to be done in order to reach out to more people?
Shikhant Sablania: Create more work. Bombard the people with so much of content that they cannot ignore you. Of course, quality should not be compromised with. We are living in the Internet age — utilize it to the fullest capacity.

Ashish: What differences do you find in the audience of India and abroad?
Shikhant Sablania: We are still a developing economy — art is really far in the priority list of relevant things. People are still adapting to the fruits of the free market economy, the ones who can afford have their priorities slightly dislocated. It will take time, but still art market will still be limited to a certain class.

Ashish: Is art limited to some classes in India? if so, what are the reasons behind it?
Shikhant Sablania: One is affordability, the price of an art piece has many determining factors, economical, emotional, personal, political — Which in itself is abstract, and makes it difficult to access by every class.

Another being the myth around modern art that it is unrelated to all classes and beings and that people with a refined taste in art and observe and/or critique it, which automatically alienates lots of people.

Ashish: How do you see the economics of art in India?
Shikhant Sablania: I see it changing, lot of online stores selling affordable art, not sure if the business is growing and by what rate, but i do see more stores online and offline selling art and upper middle class of India which has recently caught fancy of art being attracted to them. Another place is the pop art, the art merchandise, the digital art market that has grown considerably in the last few years. That again is still very small — we are still reproducing similar content.

There are people who would buy art if affordable, and there are artists which are affordable, the thing that’s missing is the link, the bridge between them. There needs to be more community + communication based art and discussion to bridge the gap, but i guess with the growth of Internet, social media, more such channels and avenues are being created — we just have to keep drawing.