Art On The Wall (www.artonthewall.in)

Past life

Art was a passion for Kritika Mahindra, but her family’s expectation that she should follow a traditional career kept her from pursuing it. “Though I used to paint at home, I never got the right platform to showcase it," says Mahindra, 26.

In May 2012, Mahindra joined a public relations firm. Alongside, she finished various short-term courses—one on art appreciation from the National Museum Institute of History of Art, Conservation and Museology, New Delhi; a three-month course on fine arts from the National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi; and later a course on “Creativity, Innovation and Change" offered by Pennsylvania State University, US, through the open online course platform Coursera.org. “That is how I kept myself rooted to art in some way," says Mahindra.

Eureka moment

Kritika Mahindra at a site in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint
Kritika Mahindra at a site in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint

Kritika Mahindra at a site in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh.

Genesis

For now, Mahindra works from home. Once a project comes their way, she meets her team on site. Customized wall art can be done in watercolour or enamel, and on an array of surfaces, such as wall, wood and glass. “We first design the artwork on software and then the artists replicate it on the wall. The art can range from contemporary to pop art, from portraits to 3D panels."

To begin with, the form is outlined in white chalk at the site and if the client is satisfied, a pencil is used to sketch the outline before the colours are filled in. A project takes two-three days. “The difference between what this team does and what digital printing does is the same as handwoven cloth and a machine-made cloth; you can feel it," says Sameer Katyal, a partner in Eventronix, an event management firm that has hired Art on the Wall to create wall art for its new office.

The artists take home 7,000-8,000 per project. For now, Mahindra doesn’t want to pull them out of their regular jobs.

“I work on jobs that include whitewashing and painting shutters. But whenever I get a job here I come," says Lalit Kaushal, a 42-year-old resident of Old Delhi. Till 2002, Kaushal used to work with an advertising company, handpainting posters, buses and billboards. After he lost his job, he tried his hand at many things, including driving an autorickshaw.

So far, Art on The Wall has taken up around 20 projects in the National Capital Region (NCR), including schools, office interiors and children’s rooms.

Reality check

The biggest problem is to convince people. Most people either prefer paintings that can be hung on walls or use wall stickers. Another problem is that people don’t have the confidence to hand over entire walls to them. Art on the Wall promises clients that if they do not like the work, it will return the wall to its original state.

Secret sauce

“I have met people who do wall art but these are people who went to art schools and spent lakhs to become artists. But we engage artists who have no such formal training," says Mahindra. The other artists, she adds, are well known and charge upwards of 1,000 per sq. ft. Art on The Wall charges 120-180 per sq. ft.

Plan B

Mahindra is confident that the start-up will definitely succeed. Saxena invested in the venture but is happy with her steady job.

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