-Lakshmi Olagammai, III Fine Arts
Compiled by Samyuktha Shiva, II B.A English
Photograph by Diya Alex, IV Fine Arts
I am a person of pictures and illustrations rather than words. My sister was studying in Bangalore and she would visit home now and then. It was during one of her first visits that I started a personal tradition that went on to last three years – I’d make handmade gifts as a token of love and hide them in her luggage for her to find them when she gets back to college. Her friends there would notice and appreciate a lot of my gifts, especially the quilled jewelry. My sister then helped me identify that this talent could be converted into a full-fledged business and that was how Mystical Hues started.
Now, the handmade gifts I create range from quilled jewelry to personalised cards, photo frames to calendars and gift bags to money envelopes.
I learnt a lot in the process – I understood debit and credit concepts, learnt what economies of scale meant and even figured out how to market myself better. But this journey has been filled with a lot of pressure and struggle because juggling full time school or college with a continuous business is hard.
I’m lucky because I found my passion at a very young age. My parents encouraged me to participate in many workshops and summer programs during my vacations for as long as I can remember. I attended many different classes but an art workshop I went to when I was in the third grade is what really changed things.
I started taking drawing and painting more seriously in eighth grade. After learning the basics, I soon began searching for niche options to differentiate myself from the crowd. I then went on to study the nuances of painting in a more structured environment at design classes after school.
In grade ten, I found myself a mentor, Mr. A .V .Elango, a well known artist in the South Indian art circuit. He gave me great insight into the industry even before I stepped foot in it. He has been a guiding source and helps me find opportunities to better myself and grow, starting from the first time I commissioned pieces of art work, till now.
Today, I have exhibited my work in over 25 shows and my paintings line the walls of homes and restaurants in Malaysia, US and India. I’m also a part of groups like CWA (Chennai Weekend Artists), and PFA (Platform for Artists) where people from various creative backgrounds come together to create and make social change through art. I also do wall art and graffiti; in fact, I have just finished painting the walls of a restobar in Chennai.
I have learnt a lot in this process of discovery and have had constant support and encouragement from my family, especially my sister who brainstorms and helps me find my footing. But above all, what has kept me going is this force within that constantly pushes me to do what I love. And that’s what happens when you make your passion your dream.