After canceling the trip for more than three times, finally, the artist agreed to meet us. Initially, I wasn’t able to understand his reluctance but when I spoke to the people at the firm they said this is the normal temperament of an artist. They think people/corporates (that’s us) don’t understand the art and only aim to financially gain from the artwork. At Fanusta, we are trying to change this. We have trips planned with multiple artists across India where we intend to cover various perspectives from an Artists standpoint; starting with the Artist himself, his art, issues with his work life, his aim in life and stuff like that. This meeting with the “State Hast Shilp Award” winner, Mr. Birdi Saini who is a pioneer of the “Kishangarh Shaily” had been to Delhi recently for a felicitation and is a busy man. When he is not painting or guiding his team he is busy promoting his art at various forums.
Though winters hadn’t started but it started to fell nippy early in the morning when we started from Jaipur from where Fanusta is based out of. So Fanusta is a combination of two words “Fan” and “Usta” and means Master of Arts, not just in the name, the firm also has implemented this philosophy across their products and appreciation of artists. With over 50 artists currently associated with Fanusta, this speaks volumes about how much the firm believes in supporting and creating a better marketplace for the handicraft products.
After waiting for the Photographer who also shares the same temperament of an artist if nothing less, my product development manager, PR team, the photographer and I decided to cover the distance of 100 odd kms planning our day. We not only had to interview Mr. Birdi but also understand the history of art, the products and gain insights into his life. This would help us in planning our association with him and also give us a better idea of avenues where we could use his art in creating something new. For me this was completely new, though I had seen the products but never had visited a workshop and met an artist before. This was going to be an eye-opener to me for sure, I finally was able to see how these wonderful pieces of art were made and the history behind this art.
On reaching the workshop we noticed a couple of people on the terrace enjoying their post-lunch siesta and the warm weather.
The moment they saw our car they started pointing out the parking lot and we knew we were in the right place, who in their right mind would mind getting attention especially after seeing a cameraman amidst us. Mr. Birdi noticing all the commotion came out and greeted in the typical Rajasthani style – “Padharo Sa” which means “Welcome Dear Sir”. He didn’t waste any time and took us straight to his workshop but we being curious creatures couldn’t avoid noticing his wall which had pictures of all his felicitations.
The workshop had loads of “Work In Progress” stuff which his team was currently working on, but with all the craftsman on the terrace we had some free time to explore around and interview him.
Speaking to him I realized that though he is an artist, deep down all he craved was for recognition and financial stability to enable him to pursue his art for years to come. At this moment all my prejudices against artists vanished and I was left with the humility and the art.
When it came to finalizing the new range of products the discussion went into details of colors and since everything is made by hand, not all products are the same. This supposedly was a problem coz the colors made from natural sources didn’t have the same consistency as of machine made. Some people appreciate the unique pieces whereas some customers were not very happy with the difference in what they wanted and what turned up.
On the way back home I was thinking about how homes nowadays have the same pieces of furniture and interior decors, I was wondering how and what can be done to make consumers aware of the hardship these craftspeople face and how to bring them to realize that different is not bad, it’s just unique and people should start learning to appreciate it.
Until the next “TRIP”, Ciao….