From a Different Angle - Natasha Punjabi
The things we lose have a way of coming back to us in the end, albeit in ways that we least expect. It might be anything from a trinket from your childhood or an interest which you grew out of. In a similar vein Natasha Punjabi, artist, entrepreneur and founder of NATANGLE rediscovered her love for art, she says “Art has always been my passion since childhood, but I laid it aside and started focusing on my career. I rose in the advertising field, moving forward and ticking all the goals I had set for myself. One fine weekend, my husband motivated me to pursue a hobby. The only thing I could think of was drawing. Immediately I got an art-book, a few gel pens and started drawing after many years. I was appreciated by many and that’s what motivated me further to create more art. Since then, I never looked back.”
After that she took a chance to turn a hobby into a career. Natasha creates intricate mandalas and frequently combines them with other styles. She tells me that she loves the fact that a simple, repetitive pattern can create something beautiful. She also adds that all mandalas have meaning, which is either connected to a historical event or to the workings of the artist’s mind.
Natasha also fuses mandalas with other styles, creating her own style. Speaking of this she says, “I believe that the only way to distinguish an artist from another is by their unique style. It takes a lot of time to discover a style which makes you stand out. Thankfully, I figured mine in 6 months. My style is a mix of various art forms together and details. I love details and enjoy making detailed patterns.”
She reveals that she loves painting women, and says that the patterns she creates look better on women and adds that she is able to enhance their expressions through this. She adds, “Women are breaking a lot of stereotypes and I love portraying all that. I might come across as a feminist; but it is what it is.” Natasha also embraces the digital side of art and she started practicing digital art in 2018. Recently she has taken a liking to painting portraits, after seeing the works of many Russian digital portrait artists. She adds that she loves both traditional and digital mediums equally and says, “I love both mediums equally and the more I practice the more I realize that there's so much more to learn. I take turns to practice them- so that I don't lose my touch.” She names @fortyonehundred, @violetillustrations, @iraklinadar and @aarti_amonkar as her influences.
For Natasha creating art takes anywhere between 30 minutes; for a small art book doodle, to 18 hours; if it’s a detailed piece on A3 paper. The piece that took her the longest time to complete rests on the wall of her home in Abu Dhabi. The work in question took her a week to complete, during which she slept only 3 hours at night. She reveals that she was under a deadline to complete it as she was hosting a Diwali party at her home and she wanted to finish it before that. She also adds that it is the one piece she is very proud of having made.
Fuelled by her love for drawing and creativity, and the support and appreciation of her husband and her peers; she started NATANGLE. She tells me that she settled on the name as it combined her name and her love for Zentangle art. She reveals that a few people expressed their doubts when she was starting out; she says “Not many people understand art as a career option. When I took the leap of faith to quit my advertising career and start NATANGLE, not many favored that decision. But my husband stood by me and that is what mattered the most. I was determined, stubborn and hard working to make this dream a reality and so I didn't really dwell on the doubts. I took the plunge into the deep sea and learnt how to swim and survive it.”
On a typical day Natasha divides her time between her art, work, household chores and her family. Talking about managing all these roles she says, “I'm not just an artist and entrepreneur - but a wife too. I extensively manage my time for all my work schedules, home chores, exercise and family. Plus, my family is very supportive - that always helps.”
Natasha says that NATANGLE began on Instagram and while this is her chief platform to showcase her work, she is also present on Facebook and Behance, apart from that, she also has an online store on RedBubble. But she reveals that it is through Instagram that many people reach out to her. While initially being bothered about the fact that Instagram’s new algorithm limited a post’s viewership, she powered through it. Talking about this she says, “Initially that used to bother me and that in turn hampered my creativity - thus affecting my post statistics. It's a vicious circle. I overcame it by not thinking about it, thereby improving my creativity and thoughts and that lead to better art.” She also says that taking good pictures of her art has also increased her reach and engagement with followers, “The key is to continue doing what you do and the results will speak for themselves.” She says.
Speaking of the challenges that she goes through, she says that plagiarism is the chief evil that plagues her as an artist. Sometimes her work is posted without due credit, and in some cases they steal her works and post it off as theirs. She usually ends up calling them out and getting them to delete their fraudulent posts. Speaking of this she says, “Plagiarism is the biggest challenge in an artist’s journey, and I think all artists go through this – they are either being copied or end up copying someone else. But as I make progress with my art and NATANGLE – I now allow people to take my art as reference and add their own style to it. I allow some artworks to be copied because I understand that many want to learn and the only way to do that is by imitating and understanding how to go about creating such artworks.”
Apart from being an artist and entrepreneur, Natasha has also started to teach art to others. Recalling her first workshop she says, “The first time I conducted a workshop, there were 250 participants. I was nervous, scared, hesitant and wondering what would happen if people didn't like what I taught, or if I goof up. So I started preparing for the workshop a week in advance. When the workshop started, I just went with the flow. My confidence grew as everyone reacted more positively. In the end, it felt great, like I had reached the peak of Mt. Everest.” She also conducted a few free online workshops during the pandemic.
She advises young artists to compete with themselves and not with other artists, she says “Art is not a competitive field – it’s a field of free expression and creativity. Be you. Do you. That’s how you learn to be better than before.” She also hopes to have her own studio replete with its own retail store along with her own website. Natasha also hopes to exhibit her work in Abu Dhabi when the pandemic subsides.
You can reach out to Natasha Punjabi on her Instagram handle @natangle__