Art Vs Stability – Let’s Find Out What PropShop24 Founder, Amtosh Singh Has To Say On Striking A Balance
A few weeks ago, Mr Amtosh Singh was invited to be a part of the panel at SVKM’s UPG College Literature Fest. He was to talk on the extent to which artists can make a living only on the basis of their art; do people need another ‘corporate’ job for monetary stability?
Unfortunately, due to some personal reasons, he couldn’t make it to the event. But, luckily we got a chance to have a quick chat with him to know more about how to strike a balance.
Q1. How to sell art and still stay true to one’s artistic spirit and creativity?
Amtosh: For me, I think maintaining a balance between commercial and creative is important. At the end of the day, everyone has to pay the bills even geniuses.
If creativity is what drives you, the thought of being a commercial sell-out is constantly haunting.
Commercial creativity is what I would say is key.
Finding what appeals to you commercially and infusing it with your aesthetic and vice versa.
Understanding the industry, its trends, what people like and figuring out where your creativity can meet with the commercial. Say no to projects that go against your values unless you can find a way to make it your own.
You don’t have to compromise your artistic creativity for money, but you do need to find a balance.
Let’s say for example, as an artist you want to have a showcase of your passion project – macro photographs of flowers – renting a gallery, setting it up, high-quality prints of your work etc. all costs money and if you don’t find a balance how would you pay those bills?
Having said that – no industry leaders ever got where they were by following what everyone else in the world was doing – so the right balance is always an internal debate.
For us, as a company, this is something that we debate internally constantly too. Essentially we are a platform that creates and curates. We work with design houses from around the world, independent brands in India, graphic designers, illustrators etc.
As a team, we always have to maintain a balance of 70/30 – 70 being commercial and 30 being creative. This applies to our selection of brands and designers. As much as I would love showcasing only designs that we personally love and appreciate, unfortunately, that does not sell as well, so we work to find a balance while continually educating the customer on new design and product trends.
Q2. Art in the new era? How has it evolved according to you?
Amtosh: Art is consumed in so many different ways now thanks to technology and the digital age we live in.
Some people say the digital age is killing art in its traditional form, but I think it’s purely taking it a step further and transforming it.
Technology is changing the way art is created, showcased and consumed.
We went from paintbrushes and canvases to digital art to all kinds of unique art. Just the other day, I came across a story of a guy in Colorado who uses a magnifying glass and creates art purely using the rays of the sun. That’s astounding! Isn’t it?
There are artists using the advancement of technology in amazing ways. You now have installations that use VR to create an immersive experience. There are also artists using 3D printing to create huge larger than life installations.
Technology is also allowing artists to introduce their art to larger audiences through digital mediums. It is also allowing artists a space for creative expression at a lower cost and with fewer barriers to entry.
There are so many Instagram -famous artists ranging from hand-drawn animation to stick figure comics to people specialising in portraits that are done start to finish without lifting the pen from the paper who we would never have been exposed to and probably may not have existed if it was not for technology.
For me, I think technology has had a big part to play in the evolution of art both from the creator and the consumer’s side.
Q3. The economic climate for artists in this country looks particularly bleak. Do you feel this is particularly true? If yes, how do upcoming artists cope with this?
Amtosh: I don’t think this is something that is specific to one career option.
As an artist or a marketer or a sales professional, you have to create a path towards what you define as ‘success’ and inch along towards it every day with focus.
As an artist, if you define success by the numbers in the bank or financial stability, you have to find a way to balance the commercial and the creative that we discussed earlier.
Q4. ‘Find a boring stable job to survive and make your passions your hobby‘ What is your take on this since this statement hasn’t necessarily been true in your case?
Amtosh: When I started my professional journey I had no idea I would end up here. Through the years and through experience and experimentation I defined for myself what I wanted to do. Yes, there were ‘boring stable jobs’ involved too but none that I regret because they were all learnings. I hated some of it while I was living it, but in hindsight, they were all important in shaping who I am today.
I spent a few years in event management with IMG Reliance running Lakmé Fashion Week, IPL & Chennai Open Tennis, I moved onto working with an incubator that founded the website Stylista, the Scootsy app, Fork Media and more recently Go Green a healthy food delivery service.
While switching jobs I simultaneously setup PropShop24 ‘my passion’ on the side. I’d work longer hours then than I work now because I was responsible for my job as well as my company. As the company grew and needed more of my time, I decided 2.5 years ago it was time for me to stop my ‘boring, stable job’ and devote all my time to PropShop24.
I don’t want to digress for too long but the reason
I was talking about that was to reiterate the importance of knowing when to sway the scale in either direction towards the passion or the stability.
I wouldn’t say I’m a huge risk taker, I’m more of a calculated risk taker, and for me I was more comfortable pursuing my passion once I felt 2 things:
– I was confident of the knowledge and understanding that I had of the space I wanted PropShop24 to grow towards.
– A certain amount of confidence in the fact that running PropShop24 could pay the bills and soar to much greater heights.
Q5. Do you feel there should be more support from the government in moulding the career of artists?
Amtosh: I think the government should invest in supporting institutes that teach and provide education opportunities for artistic mediums of expression.
International level faculty and facilities for students to learn how to better their creative skills and learn how to develop their passions into a success is how I think the government can help.
In addition, relaxing the laws on censorship and allowing freedom of creative expression to the fullest in all forms.
The whole idea is not to compromise by choosing between passion and a not so interesting well -paying job but to find a synergy and be commercially creative. Do let us know what are your key takeaways in the comments below.
Until next time Happy Propping!
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