The virtues of dreaming are embedded in the thoughts of all humanity. But for a larger section of the society the reality becomes a disfigured art, much distant from the dream they painted for themselves. When we hopscotch from our surreal beliefs to the reality being another untold story, it causes an erosion of our visions.
Kritika Mahindra co-founded Art on the Wall with an inspiration of pushing forward the unsung heroes of the city of New Delhi. She traced such creative artists in every alley and spoke to every person beside the broken pathway to find the redundant artist in them. The outflow that came from it was a miracle. She found truth in their unconventional art and splashed optimism in their dreamless thoughts once again.
She called for a time in their lives for finding their journey again. Read more to know about this showrunner.
“You may write me down in history With your bitter, twisted lies, You may trod me in the very dirt But still, like dust, I’ll rise.” – Still i rise, maya angelou
Highlights of this episode
- Her journey on becoming a social entrepreneur and building Art on the Wall.
- The score card for non-profit organizations.
- How existentially important it is to find the hidden talent in you and to keep it alive through all means.
quotes and takeaways
- You, I, and everyone can be the future face of social entrepreneurs.
- In order to be a social entrepreneur, one needs to find, see and feel the problems or challenges or unexploited opportunities breathing in the society.
- Social enterprises discover sustainable exploitation of opportunities for larger masses and create public goods through the generation of disequilibria in market and non market environments.
Tell us about your work with Art on the wall? How has been the journey so far?
Art on the wall is a very close knit team who work together to revive the old traditional of hand painted art on walls with customization option. The artists are the people who used to paint exquisite posters and art work for films, banners, for advertising companies and others. Ever since, the digital pictures have come into being, the livelihood and source of earning of these talented artists have gone for a toss. So, we are essentially a connecting link between artists and clients who are looking for customised art options.
We offer design options to clients based on their requirements and interest. Post suggesting some changes or offering customization options, we bring alive a dead wall, ceiling, furniture, and even canvas by splashing some colours on the wall, leaving an ecstatic smile on client’s face.
The journey has been experiential and an exhilarating learning throughout. I became part of this initiative when I was 23 years old. I, personally have evolved and grown mentally and emotionally with every project I have undertook. While working on every single aspect related to planning and execution, it has given me a deep self- reflection and, a means to explore my psychological identity.
The experience while working on the Art on the wall taught me ‘ How existentially important it is to find the hidden talent in you and to keep it alive through all means ‘. How challenging it is to survive if your means of livelihood has been hijacked by advancing technology (referring especially for the people who comes from economically weaker section of the society and looked down upon for not being able to cope with the fast changing world). It has been a challenging task to find and locate such artists who now have either changed professions just to meet their ends or doing some odd jobs like whitewash, street food vendor, driving an auto etc. Because, the hand painted art work demand has been restricted to do shop shutters, or telecom advertisements on highways or painting on the trucks and autos, the artists are now reluctant to walk down the roads again because of sheer lack of confidence that of today’s fast generation, nobody will understand and appreciate their skills.
What was your motivation to become a social entrepreneur? Are you pursuing this with a bigger objective?
To earn respect and recognition for the artists who have skills, talent and teachings they posses but are unable to showcase or present them on a platform due to lack of exposure, optimum opportunities and generation drift. The very reason of how advancement in technology and digitalization of prints have taken the source of living and earning of these artists who once were worshiped for being so creative and talented to paint film posters and billboards for the masses. We empathize with these disadvantaged or deprived artists and we aim at getting the unorganised sector artists into the mainstream. We are motivated by innovation, creating change, doing good, and improving existing services.
In a flashback, which moment comes to you at a glance?
Well, Art on the wall is like a baby to me. I have witnessed its birth. I have been living with it, for it, every single day since its existence, so all of the moments are magical to me.
How has been the response which you have received from your clients?
Oh, well, in terms of Feedback, I guess you would like to ask by yourself to our varied clients. I might not be the right person talking on their behalf.
But, if it is in terms of embracing the idea or the concept of transforming the walls artistically by marking a lifestyle statement; people do acknowledge and understand the meaning of painting directly on the wall surface or furniture, floors, ceilings, glass, shoes, etc etc but, they remain apprehensive and a bit unsure of how a particular design is going to get replicated on their wall canvas until, they see the end product and get surprised by the outcome.
We believe in creating memories, happiness, smiles and the whole execution of art work process as an open activity for participation for our clients. Many a times, our clients themselves have picked up the brushes and tried their hands on while we paint. They absolutely loved living the childhood memories of painting or scribbling on walls for which they got punished then. And now, they enjoy making their own choices and getting a piece of history on their walls.
Also, there definitely is a section of people who loves to keep holding on to the wallpapers or decals or wall sticker ideas irrespective of how artificially boring or common these may look. They are not yet ready for the Change. No matter how specifically they order their favourite food in a restaurant or get their furniture customized or get personalized household items; they consider walls a less important section of their house interiors and probably, that’s why end up covering the walls by textures or wallpapers with less or no customization at all.
If it is in terms of reactions, one thing that I can proudly say is that, so far in our journey, there is not even a single client who is dissatisfied or unhappy with our art work. They seem to have no complaints at all with our work. Which theoretically means, we have the record of ‘ satisfied customers’ . Which implies that whatever we do, we do it in the best possible way by meeting client’s expectations. This means, the society is accepting the changing nature of art work and knows how to recognize and appreciate Arts in a broader sense.
Bill Drayton says a social entrepreneur must not stop until an industry is revolutionized. Does this statement meet realization?
I second Mr. Drayton’s statement. World societies today have some grave and pressing issues to confront. We, the world, need more social entrepreneurs to apply fresh and innovative solutions to the issues or challenges in hand. But at the same time, I believe that, we need more of social entrepreneurs as well as social enterprises.
In order to be a social entrepreneur, one needs to find, see and feel the problems or challenges or unexploited opportunities breathing in the society. Once figured out, they need to recognize their role to bring out the desired change. Whereas, social enterprises are more structured, defined, sorted and organized wherein more and more people of same interest and motivated for a particular initiative club together to bring consistent and powerful, visible positive change in the society. They imply business strategies to achieve social goals. This reminds me of Joseph Champier, according to him, social enterprises discover sustainable exploitation of opportunities for larger masses and create public goods through the generation of disequilibria in market and non market environments.
How do you predict the future of social entrepreneurship? Which are sectors making major difference?
I believe, everyone is and can be a social entrepreneur. Like I mentioned above, if you see disturbances, issues, problems, challenges or unexploited opportunities in the society you live in and feel that you can and should do something to change it in an innovative way by creating small or large impact, scalable or non-scalable success, it doesn’t matter ; what matters is voicing your thoughts and concerns and doing something about it to achieve the set social goal. You, I, and everyone can be the future face of social entrepreneurs.
According to an article published at OIFC website that, India is said to have the largest number of social enterprises in the world. A sum of US $ 1 billion is expected to be coming into the Social Entrepreneurship space in the next five years.The change in the society has begun. We (Indians) have already marked our presence at the global level as potential social entrepreneurs and I see great potential and I am optimistic about the change in the society at all levels. For example, agriculture, education, healthcare, energy, sanitation, even affordable housing and women centric subjects have extremely powerful social entrepreneurs. I see not only men or groups of social entrepreneurs but a large number of women entrepreneurs marking their presence in every industry.
Here, I have a concern. We all see how certain sectors or industries always get the attention of the investors and other funding and how a few industries like Arts get a side line. Art on the wall, is a social enterprise that aims at getting the unorganised sector artists into the mainstream. We aim to provide these artists sustainable and dignified living through the talent and skill they posses. We would wish to see Arts industry to witness phenomenal number of social enterprises and entrepreneurs by contributing innovative ways of preserving and creating substantial changes.
In a for-profit world scores are kept with sales revenue. how do you measure scores in the non-profit world?
As a social entrepreneur, we are expected to be prepared to work harder for less monetary reward and more for emotional reward. The elated joy and happy faces which we get to see post clients approve our work , make us forget to keep any scores. Also, there is the feeling that all social entrepreneurs are creating for new order and a more sustainable world, as we all have to face similar challenges while walking down the same road and this is another great motivation for us to enter this sector and work.
As a social entrepreneur we are expected to generate profits, prove that we are creating measurable positive change and improving the standard of living of the people we are supporting. At the same time, as a social enterprise, we are aware that enterprise tends not to be highly profitable, it is harder to fund the business and harder to attract investment. So we learn to attract support by means other than the monetary.
What is your message for people wanting to pursue social entrepreneurship?
Candidly, you should be an entrepreneur, if you hate having a corporate career, or like being your own boss or can’t think of anything better as a career option or just want to meet a need. 😉
On a serious note, do you see any problems in the society which you wish, if given a chance, you would want to change? If yes, then that ‘problem’ will be your ‘Project’ to be the reason of motivation to become a social entrepreneur. I think, everybody can be a social entrepreneur. You need not have a specialized degree or a certificate to be a social entrepreneur. You just have to feel the presence of a pressing issue or a problem prevailing in a society for which you deeply feel concerned and wishing to do something and bring positive change at the societal level. Or, find an unidentified, unexploited opportunity which can create welfare at large. Be empathetic, work in team, have a change maker attitude and you will be a successful social entrepreneur in the modern world.