We had a chat with Manasi Arya, artist and owner of this lovely Etsy shop linked here. Her powerful and inclusive art showed her incredible determination and perseverance in her career. Read below about her story and how she got to where she is now!
1) Tell us your story. How did you get started with your art?
I grew up surrounded by art because my mom is an artist. She put me in all the traditional art classes like charcoal, still life, pottery, etc. And, I definitely learned so much from that. I think my mom and I had always shared a love for art and creativeness and we would showcase that through fashion by designing our own desi clothing together! I never pursued art but I kept the love alive by painting and drawing randomly, doing DIYS, or by being the creative chair in various desi organizations in college. Then, I had the opportunity to pursue art in college but that didn’t stop me from being an artist.
After I graduated college, my friend encouraged me to create an art account where I could post my various art pieces that I had created over the years. This is also a great way for me to be held accountable to continue creating and also posting. It was a way for me to take care of my mental health by taking the time to do art. Once the pandemic happened, I finally had time in my personal life to create more than I was doing at that time. I made it a point to do something every week but because of the pandemic I was able to do something everyday. That is when everything changed for me.
2) Who or what inspires your artistic style?
My mother, culture, experiences, and identities inspires my artistic style. Every piece has significance and a connection to my desi heritage and/or being a woman. I think representation is extremely important and being able to create different pieces that have to do with women, South Asians, people of color and connect it to Beauty and Fashion makes it my style.
3) What do you think is the biggest struggle Desi artists face in the industry?
One of the biggest struggles in this industry that desi artists face is competition. I think even if many of us are saying collaboration over competition, I still see a lot of competition from other artists. I try really hard to follow and communicate with artists regardless of their following. However, I noticed a lot of artists only follow me and talk to me based on my following. Also, I noticed that many of them don’t support me by liking, commenting, and collaborating with me. It is not always about numbers but it can be hurtful to see artists that I love supporting others and not me.
I have talked to a few artists and I know that I am not alone. Some big artists choose who they want to support instead of choosing everyone. That’s why I try really hard to be as open and honest about my journey and my struggles so I can continue to help and educate other people. There’s no secret that there are so many digital artists now, and more and more come into the scene every day. But I think being open about how you create your art is a great way to connect with other people as well.
4) Which piece of work are you most proud of and why?
I am most proud of this art piece that I have created. I really like being able to create diverse pieces with all kinds of women. Two of the women in this piece were created when I first started digital art about a year ago. They both have had a significant role in my journey and my style in digital art. I wanted to continue the series of the two women that I had created, the black woman and the desi Woman, by adding more women of different ethnicities, skin colors, and hair colors.
Although there are a lot of different women with many different unique features, I really love the way that these nine women look together. They look strong and in unity. I hope to continue and create more women that look like this and add the unique flare to the art. Women empowerment is an extremely important topic on my page and my everyday life and this piece definitely shows empowerment that women have when we are together.
5) What legacy do you hope to leave with your art?
I want to be able to showcase that anybody can also create art. I think people get really discouraged when their art doesn’t look a certain way or it doesn’t look like someone else’s, therefore they give up and they move on. Art does not have to be created from your hands, it can be photography, music, poetry, and anything that speaks to you. I want to be as empowering and encouraging as possible so other people can also feel excited to create.
6) What is your advice for a budding young artist?
A piece of advice I would give someone who is young and an artist is to keep going. Giving up is very easy and is often an easier route than continuing and stressing out. But it is also an amazing experience when you finally are able to get the results that you are seeking in your art. The coolest part about starting anything like art is that growth always follows. If you feel discouraged or you need someone to talk to you about advice on how to get out of an art block or anything of that sort, you can always message me because my DMs are always open.
7) For Fun! What are three words that describe you?
Creative, passionate, and loyal. I think in anything that I do I am always bringing something creative and artsy. Even as a teacher I definitely incorporate art even in a small minor way. But being creative can also mean just thinking creatively and open-minded as well and I think that is something that I’m very proud of. I’m also extremely passionate about the things I love. Once I get my mind to do something, I will do it wholeheartedly. Lastly I’m a very loyal person and friend. I will be on your side forever and always.
What’s your favorite tv show?
A few of my favorite shows are Gossip Girl, Sex in the City, Carrie Diaries, How I Met Your Mother, New Girl, and This Is Us.
If you could buy any type of food for free, what would you get?
I think I would buy nachos because I absolutely love it and I think it is one of the most versatile dishes. You can literally add anything that you want based on your mood and preferences. I also think that even within something as simple as beans you can have black beans, pinto beans, beans, etc. and it will completely transform and change the dish. Or pani puri because I don’t have access to that everyday and it is tied as my favorite dish. My mom makes the BEST pani puri.
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