In Bihar, traditionally, painting is one of the skills that have been passed down from generation to generation. Painting in Bihar, was usually done on walls during festivals, religious events, and on other milestones of the lifecycles like birth and marriage. There are several styles of paintings that are practiced in Bihar like- Madhubani , Mithila etc. The artisans of Bihar have proven adept at creating products using local materials. Baskets , cups, and sauces made from bamboo strips or cane, painted in vivid colours are commonly found in Bihari home.
But now the time has changed, the styles of paintings have changed.
A new generation artist of Bihar ‘Aakanksha Shankar’, a native of Munger, Bihar has introduced a unique style of painting which she describes as ‘Pencraft’. Aakanksha completed her post graduation from the University of Pune in Mass Communication and Journalism in 2010 and was the 5th rank holder. Be it sports reporting for Common Wealth Games 2010, or her pencraft designs, she was always praised and appreciated for her creativity.
Daughter of Ajit Kumar Sinha who served the government in Judiciary and retired as District and Session Judge, Aakansha always looked upon her father as an inspiration. Her husband, Utsav Shankar and her ‘second parents’ (in-laws, as she wish to change the trend of calling in-laws to second parents) have always supported her to fulfil her dreams. “My husband is my greatest critic and a true friend. He believes in my work, my dreams and is always supportive”, said Aakanksha.
The journey of “BULBULI” began after she got married. She left her job back in Delhi and later realised her hidden talent. Her husband recognized her talent and motivated her to turn her hobby into profession and then it was in between 2013-2014 when the transformation took place and the story of Bulbuli began.
“My husband is the one who has given the name “BULBULI” to my dream as bulbuli brings smile on face when heard and happiness and joy in heart when seen”, says Aakanksha.
She designed several miniatures and became an expert in making designs that were minute, very fine lines made by the help of nibs and colours. Later these designs were named as ‘Pencraft’. For becoming financially independent, she popularised the technique of pencraft and it was then when the idea behind the formation of Bulbuli came to her mind. She formed a group of women and trained them in pencraft and motivated them to be financially independent through art work. Bulbuli’s first exhibition was on 10th August 2014 which was a super hit start-up. Soon her hobby turned into an entrepreneurship and her designs became famous among the people. She also got a job offer from the renowned Panache Hotel, Patna but she rejected the offer and rather decided to start her own business of art and popularize Pencraft.
Turning imagination into reality was not at all an easy task for her. She started studying business and properly researched the market conditions. “For me it was really tough to establish a business in art and painting as these are not required on daily basis. Art lovers in our nation are very few. Artists here, struggle all their life to market their art and become famous”, said Aakanksha. She then started painting on products which had more utility value and which had more demand not just in the Indian market but all around the globe. Thus, art met utility and became the success mantra for Aakanksha’s Bulbuli. Further, the start-up involved other artists as well and in the year 2014 these all shaped up.
As Pencraft was a new name in the market, so the prime challenge was to make it exist among the people. So, Aakanksha with her team started socialising her business on facebook, twitter and on other social media sites so that people could get to know more about it. “Basic digital marketing of Bulbuli handicrafts brought in more demand for pencraft. After all the legal formalities and paper works Bulbuli Handcrafted became “Bulbuli Handcrafted LLP” and the business grew”, said Aakanksha. “We then started getting orders from all over the globe”, she added. Exporters were approached to market Bulbuli’s products and Delhi became the prime market for Bulbuli. Another challenge was to create a demand of Bulbuli’s products. Creating space for handmade and hand painted utility products was the main aim of the entire team.
“It’s very common in India to buy expensive apparels and jewellery but spending on art products are very rare, so we have limited mass for our products. And this is what makes Bulbuli exclusive”, said Aakanksha.
Achievements of Bulbuli:
*Bulbuli Handcrafted exhibited the thematic painting for ”Beti Bachao Beti Padhao” during the launch of the programme by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
*Bulbuli handcrafted got the opportunity to decorate the guest house of Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. (Panipat) before the launch of Beti Bachao Beti Padhao.
*Showcased and exhibited pencraft internationally in Singapore.
*Upcoming exhibition of pencraft in Vietnam(2016).
*Over ten exhibitions till date in Delhi, Gurgaon, Panipat and Ranchi.
Details By : Prithviraj Burhagohain