“I believe in the notion of ‘art with purpose'”

Pic Courtesy : Manisha Swarnkar

Pic Courtesy : Manisha Swarnkar

Your artwork is very impressive. You don many hats, that of an Animator, an Illustrator and a Sand Artist. Where do you draw inspiration from?

Thank you so much.
I derive my inspiration from my love of art, and how it enables me to express my thoughts/ideas to many people.

Pic Courtesy : Manisha Swarnkar

Pic Courtesy : Manisha Swarnkar

Tell us something about Sand Art. Where did you learn the technique?

Well, the word Sand Art is very self explanatory as an art form, but what is often overlooked are the subtleties involved with the technique. To be a Sand Artist is to have a deep understanding of the balance between the fills/positives(areas with sand) and voids/negatives(areas without sand). The delicate and dynamic nature of sand makes it possible to create even the finest of details in illustrations.
Surprising as it may sound, I learned Sand Art by myself. I come from an engineering background, and all it took was a flash inspiration when I came across the Sand Artist Kseniya Simonova, to set me on my path. I loved my idol’s works and wanted to emulate her, so I made a rudimentary setup using my grandfather’s old trunk and used my Rangoli skills to make my first sand art .

But still we were strangers / Pic Courtesy : Manisha Swarnkar

But still we were strangers / Pic Courtesy : Manisha Swarnkar

Give us some insight on your experience at IIT- Bombay where you pursued a course in Animation.

Academically ,each project that I worked on was different. After learning the basics of Animation in first year, I created my own independent film, “Kite Diary”, using Sand animation, creating each scene frame by frame. Soon, I got the opportunity to work with COSMIC, Nanyang Technology, Singapore to develop a hand gesture based interactive game. I owe a lot of my success to the lessons learnt at IDC Bombay.

Kate Winslet / Pic Courtesy : Manisha Swarnkar

Kate Winslet / Pic Courtesy : Manisha Swarnkar

Which has been your most memorable piece of art that you have created? Can you give us a brief description about it and the tools that you used for the same?

A. The following video was made on female foeticide .Personally I am more inclined towards social awareness, so this was an outcome of that. It has won an award in IITB Film GC Competition and got nominated and screened in Vibgyor international film Festival.

Video Link here

Pic Courtesy : Manisha Swarnkar

Pic Courtesy : Manisha Swarnkar

B. This was a sand art video I made last year.
A short sand art video,describing Dec 2015 Chennai Floods. This video was a small effort to motivate people to come forward and donate for Chennai Flood victims. Tools used – Lightbox, Camera, Hand, Sand

Video link here

Pic Courtesy : Manisha Swarnkar

Pic Courtesy : Manisha Swarnkar

What is your usual workflow pattern?

It usually starts with the conception of an idea/theme, after which each and every frame is deliberated and planned to form the storyboard. The focus is given on how one visual can be transformed smoothly and beautifully into the other, thereby progressing the story. Suitable audio is decided for the visuals and then the final sand art is showcased.

Song of the Sea / Pic Courtesy : Manisha Swarnkar

Song of the Sea / Pic Courtesy : Manisha Swarnkar

What are the tools/software that you use regularly as a part of your work?

Sand, Lightbox, Camera, Adobe premiere

Victoria Terminus / Pic Courtesy : Manisha Swarnkar

Victoria Terminus / Pic Courtesy : Manisha Swarnkar

What are your career goals?

I believe in the notion of ‘art with purpose’. I’ve always leaned towards creating works relating to social awareness, whether it’s by sand art or animation. My inclination towards social causes has been mostly consistent throughout my career. I have made a Sand Animation video called “Whitebone” with Headless Hippies, related to Elephant poaching in Africa, which has bagged the Hollywood Akademia Awards as well as the Global Music Awards.
I plan to keep working on personal projects while putting public performances. I’d like to bring the ethereal art-form of Sand Art to the spotlight, and inspire people, just like the way I was inspired. I recently had the honour to take a step in that direction when I was invited to speak at Tedx, I was really grateful for that experience.
So I will keep experimenting with my works and enjoy the uncertainties life brings to me, I believe that the future has more to bring.

To see more of Manisha’s work, click here

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