We’re always being told that everything has a purpose and so does art. Art isn’t just there for the sake of art. If this is so…. then what’s the purpose of art? Today, on International Literacy Day, Kaffeinated Konversations traverses through the artistic journey and how literacy became a symbolic component through “Visual Literacy”.
So to begin with; what is “visual literacy”?
“Visual literacy is the ability to interpret, negotiate, and make meaning from information presented in the form of an image, extending the meaning of literacy, which commonly signifies interpretation of a written or printed text.”
This is furthermore explained by Melissa Thibault and David Walbert in “Reading Images”:
“Visual literacy is the ability to see, to understand, and ultimately to think, create, and communicate graphically. Generally speaking, the visually literate viewer looks at an image carefully, critically, and with an eye for the intentions of the image’s creator. Those skills can be applied equally to any type of image: photographs, paintings and drawings, graphic art (including everything from political cartoons to comic books to illustrations in children’s books), films, maps, and various kinds of charts and graphs. All convey information and ideas, and visual literacy allows the viewer to gather the information and ideas contained in an image, place them in context, and determine whether they are valid.”
The surprising fact is that we all engaged in visual literacy way before even the first word we spoke as infants. The sign language and visual cues that enabled us to communicate with others were in a way our visual literacy. Toledo Museum of Art in fact makes a point by stating that:
Although we are immersed in visual language, few of us stop to consider exactly how it works or how we might master it. Art museums, the repositories of the greatest examples of visual communication in human history, are specially equipped to help people learn how to unlock the meanings of images.
On an average we spend hardly 17 seconds to see any kind of art work. However to understand it requires us to slow down, actually “see” it, interpret it, comprehend it. 6 steps have been developed by the Toledo Museum of Art, The Art of Seeing Art™ series—Look, Observe, See, Describe, Analyze, and Interpret—that you can use when looking at any work of art or any image in everyday life. Check into their explanations here: http://www.vislit.org/the-art-of-seeing-art
Today on #InternationalLiteracyDay we focus on the Visual Literacy as the need of the hour. Kaffeinated Konversations had brewing konversations with Abhineet Agarwal, CoFounder of Pulpypapaya. Didn’t realize the length of time we discussed on various topics of art, artists and how changing perceptions towards arts can be made possible. It was an amazing interview.
KK: Hi Abhineet, You were a Chartered Accountant. What pulled you to artistic pursuits through your startup “Pulpypapaya”?
Abhineet: When I bought a handmade journal from Udaipur, all friends in my hometown loved it and wanted the same. But it was not available anywhere except Udaipur. So a thought came to my mind that why not make such lovely crafts available to the world under one platform; bringing them out from the small towns where they’re made.
KK: Who are your major inspirations when it comes to art? Some favourites among the current crop?
Abhineet: Not any specific artist. We are majorly inspired by tribal artists from all over the world.
KK: Your startup ‘PulpyPapaya’ covers art, design and even typography. And you’re an entrepreneur too. How do you juggle your artistic and business side?
Abhineet: We are trying to bring an equilibrium in the art and craft business. We make products which are not exponentially priced and at the same time not compromising on art and quality. While focussing on authentic art and crafts, we suffer on our profits but we believe in the long run people will understand our objectives.
KK: A lot of artists are selling their work online these days and becoming very popular. How do you see this field developing in the days to come?
Abhineet: This field has already been developing for decades. But due to overpricing of crafts and arts at many places, the general public never takes it seriously. If the art and craft can be made viable for public, it will see a huge boom.
KK: Today is International Literacy Day. Much of your work tells a story. Do you consider your products as a medium for “visual literacy”?
Abhineet: Yes, we do. Any form of visual art tells a story and every craft has an untold story of the artisan who toils with perfection for the final product. We mention the “Product Story” under each item we sell.
KK: What is your take on ‘visual literacy’ of the products you make?
Abhineet: Each item of Pulpypapaya has distinct properties and principles of design imbibed. These correspond to the visual contexts that the buyer or the person who sees it can realize.
- The pen holder is an epitome of all Principles of Design
- The tees have creatively inspired and yet thoroughly researched designs. For example, our African art tee of brown bear actually talks about the extinction of brown bear from our planet and that’s the story behind making it on tee.
- The masks actually go way beyond mask – did you check the expressions?
- The bags are each individually inspired design and made on the utilitarian aspect of Principles of design
KK: How well is the ‘visual literacy’ concept known in India?
Abhineet: It isn’t developed well and neither is anyone working towards it in a comprehensive sense. The art scene in other parts of the world is very different. People frequent museums, art is totally a part of curriculum studies and people on the whole are enthusiastic about it.
KK: Your views on arts and its understanding among the common people. Do we need more forms of awareness or Google has got it sorted out?
Abhineet: We need hell lot of awareness. But for that we need to break the stereotype that art is the luxury only for the rich.
(To know more about the ways in which Pulpypapaya involves people in their artistic endeavours check out the following blogs: https://kaffeinatedkonversations.wordpress.com/2016/05/23/art-cove-the-immersive-project/
KK:How does your personal philosophy reflect in what you showcase?
Abhineet: Personally I value quality with love for details. So whatever we make has to be authentic, supreme quality both design wise and material wise and out of the box. No love for what sells easily.
KK: Looking back how has your product changed over the years? What role has it played in the customer’s life?
Abhineet: Our products have evolved a lot in terms of quality and design. We have far mature designs than before. Also we have understood what people like and what they don’t. The customers now get better product at better prices.
KK: Could you tell us a little about the process of creating a product right from the artistic concept to execution? How long does it typically take?
Abhineet: We first visualize the product with team discussion. Then we draw draft blueprints. Later a lot of sampling is done to come up with a satisfactory prototype. Then it goes into production.
KK: This is for the readers: Any tips on how to find Creative inspiration?
Abhineet: Creative inspiration is in daily life and objects around you and in places we generally do not give importance to.
Art Promoter Abhineet Agarwal is CoFounder of Pulpypapaya
When a Chartered Accountant’s path changes into something something so dramatically different from the logical course of life; numbers to artworks – its a sit up and notice situation. Yet, when anyone meets him, it is surprising to imagine he’s a CA. So while the numbers took a backseat long time ago, he’s promoting arts like a wildfire. With Pulpypapaya, he’s blazing the trail for people to get immersed into art and craft like never before.
Yeah… an unusual name the story of which goes like this-
The three founders were thinking of a good name as no one likes a bad name. From the day of inception, we have never thought of ourselves as just another boring handicraft online portal. We want to break this monotonous perception of people about handicrafts. So we wanted a name that reflected this vision. We kept on thinking for a good name for many days without any breakthrough. We also registered few domain names which later were never used (sadly never got a buyer inquiry for them as well). Then one fine day, while discussing few names over a friend’s place, one of his siblings mocked us by suggesting Pulpypapaya as a name as he was having a juice with pulp. We took his joke serious-ly and BANG! We had our name. All the qualities we wanted – Catchy, Funny, Unique, Refreshing and obvi-ously healthy. Just a eureka moment of being at the right time, right place with the right person holding the right thing in hand!