Monday, April 23, 2007

Art Space Talk: Ajay Angre- World Palette International


I recently interviewed artist Ajay Angre. Mr. Angre is the founder of World Palette International (WPI). He is also the Director of Marketing Communications for WPI. Mr. Angre's job is to promote original art created by emerging Indian artists. He accomplishes this by utilizing a Direct Response Marketing plan and by gaining exposure for WPI artists online.

It can be hard for artists from India to gain international exposure due to economic reasons. Many of the artists represented by World Palette International are from rural areas of India. Thus, the respected artists may lack in communication and financial resources to expose their work to a wider audience. Many of these artists create master works while living meager lives. It is the goal of WPI to gain the proper exposure that these artists need in order to facilitate their careers and earn the living that their talents warrant.

Mr. Angre is currently working with myartspace.com in order to gain further exposure for artists represented by World Palette International. Ajay has over 30 years of experience working with various organizations and has built strong connections throughout the 'art world'. Myartspace.com is proud to introduce our blog readers to Mr. Angre and his organization.

Mr. Angre has allowed me to post several examples of work by WPI artists. You will observe examples of work by Senior and Junior artists from India throughout this interview. Please keep an eye on the WPI website (which is currently under construction): www.worldpalette.co.in. Enjoy!

(A painting by Prof. Anil Naik- Professor Naik specializes in all forms of art- realistic, abstract, portrait painting, landscapes, conceptual art, murals...)

Q. Mr. Angre, you are the Director of Marketing Communications for World Palette International. Can you tell our readers about your organization? What is the mission of your organization?

A. "World Palette International based in Mumbai, India is founded by the Artists of senior rank to promote the up coming Indian Artists who have talent, creative vision but no marketing opportunities and exposure. Besides, exploitation of upcoming artists by middle men and so called agents was a matter of concern that needed to be addressed immediately.
For over two years now I've personally met our very senior artists and expressed my desire to start some marketing activity to promote our emerging artists who come from socially and economically backward classes but have tremendous creative talent. We collectively thought we must do something to stop exploitation of our artists and do something to offer a viable platform to showcase their work nationally and internationally for sale.

I received overwhelming support for by all my seniors for creating an organization that was named World Palette International. I am proud to state here that I am the founding member and Director for Marketing communications of World Palette International.
As I am from the creative side, ( I Graduated in Applied Art from J.J.School of Art, Mumbai) World Palette International, the name, logo style and the symbol to represent artist color palette and Art with an International outlook was developed by me. This became my passion and a mission to create such a powerful medium via WPI that can and will cut across all boundaries, borders and help an artist receive his/her due share and recognition. And with recognition, the monetary rewards.

My dream and passion is coming into realization with our collective efforts. The reason it is working successfully is because Artist are working in the interest of Artists. No commissions, no fee whatsoever are charged as a matter of policy. Our Artist get a price he or she feels, he/she deserves for the work as far as possible. It was only possible if Artist works for Artist and build up a team to support each other in a marketing oriented environment. This way, we could build up confidence in our artists to use this platform freely and assured support of the artist in this movement can only make our organization strong and efforts effective."
(A painting by Parag Ghalsasi- Parag is an established artist who can skillfully paint the human figure. He is known for his eye for detail.)

Q. You have worked with Prof. Hanamante, Prof. Vishvas Yende, Prof. Anil Nagpurkar, Prof. Anil Naik, and Prof. Srikant Jadhav- all leading art instructors from India- in order to give structure to World Palette International. When did you all decide to create this organization?

A. "It is really an interesting story if I may say so. The concept of developing such a platform for our upcoming artists came to my mind when I was working in the Gulf, in Dubai. One couple from Europe came to meet me as I was working with the leading English language daily as an Art Director. They were visiting the Gulf in order to promote European Art and Artists. They were looking for representatives who can work for them in the Gulf region.

At that point of time I thought of our Indian artists and their poor state of affairs. I thought of working on the same lines for our Artists in India. And while on vacation in India, I planned to meet all my fellow Artists, and college faculty to know their thoughts. I received encouraging response from every one of them since they knew my strength in marketing communications and my exposure to the outside world.
In 1999, when I returned back to India, I started serious work on the concept of creating a viable marketing platform for deserving talented upcoming artists from India. For about six months I was just talking to Artists and Art Professors, to understand where things were going wrong, why an artist's position in the society is so bad in spite of having great talent- why an artist cannot make a decent living out of his passion for art.

Well, this was totally an area of research and deep study to find out what is responsible for this state of affairs. I studied the art market, artists, buyers, art institutes, art galleries and exhibition events for six long months. I discussed with senior and junior artists and came to my own conclusions about the marketing approach that we should have. The senior faculty members were a big source of feed back for me. After spending a lot of time with many of my seniors and upcoming artists, I presented my marketing plans as a matter of communication strategy and we started working on that in Feb 2005.

Our first exhibition was held on 30th of July 2005 for only two days at the famous Golf Club of Mumbai. But my marketing plans were focused on "Direct response marketing". After my studies, I firmly believed that Direct Response Marketing is the only economical and result oriented channel of communication which can generate a effective response in terms of actual sales and also, wider, deeper penetration in the selected target group is possible.

So in effect, World Palette International started it’s active role in July 2005."

(A painting by Kishore Nandvdekar- Is a self-taught artist who has been honored by the Maharashtra State Art Board.)


Q. Mr. Angre, you are an artist as well. You graduated from Mumbai's reputable Art College Sir J.J. School of Art in 1971. You also have 23 years of experience working as an Art Director and as a Creative Director with International exposure in Advertising and Marketing. How has your artistic and business training helped you to meet the challenges of forming an organization like World Palette International? I will assume that critical thinking and creative decisions play a major role in strengthening your organization.

A. "Yes, indeed with the kind of experience and exposure that I was fortunate enough to have over 23 years of my career- my creative thinking and marketing vision helped me a lot in guiding my mind to follow certain paths and my sixth sense in difficult situations kept me on my track. Firstly, I must say being an Artist myself, it was an advantage for me to understand artist's mind, attitude and thinking in general. My creative side helped me in grasping situations fast and also helped me to see the future outlook.

Also, being an artist with a professional attitude and vast experience from the field, I could command good respect from fellow artists. My professional strengths in marketing, advertising and promotions were the basis for receiving respectability within the art world. My communication skills are excellent and I believe in great presentations. I am a good listener.
During my six months study of everything in the art world and artists, my role was only as a listener to know many aspects of the industry. I have a habit of listening to everyone and even discussing issues with everyone. I am open to suggestions, but the final processing of information I gather, I decide myself, what is vital that needs to be used to make my decisions to strengthen this concept and based on that I apply my creative vision, experience, and my sixth sense to arrive at a final conclusion and decisions.

I am willing to change my course after careful considerations. I call that fine tuning of your thoughts, plans and approach. I strongly believe in listening to everyone because I sincerely believe everyone has a creative potential and a solution to offer from a different perspective.

I also strongly believe in my own convictions, beliefs, gut feelings and a lot of winning attitude to succeed in your endeavors. But I must say, as a creative person, I always follow out-of-box thinking. I am not a traditional thinker but a creative thinker. Building up an organization requires human understanding, financial understanding and marketing understanding.

My experience from every organization that I worked with certainly became an asset for working in all these critical areas. To build up an organization, you need a leader with vision, with confidence and extra ordinary capacity to influence and motivate others to come along with you on the mission to succeed in our dreams to build a brighter future. Our not so confident artists, with no hopes for a better life or future needed this confidence with a powerful message that said "we can and will make it together"! So let us do it now for a better tomorrow."

(A painting by Ram Khartmal- Ram is an emerging artist who has gained recognition in India for his conceptual work.)

Q. Can you explain some of the difficulties that artist from India may have in regards to gaining exposure for their work internationally?

A. "In the first place, most of the Artists are from poor family backgrounds. Their socio economic status is from the lower level in the society. Most of them learn in schools in the vernacular languages. So they are very poor in their verbal or written communication skills. In addition, they lack presentation skills. World Palette International is spending a lot of time explaining to our artists their drawbacks and how to improve on them.

The reasons why nationally or internationally their reach is poor and the exposure to their work is almost nil is due to their socio economic conditions. Of course I don’t blame them entirely for their state, the circumstances they live in are such that making a living only on art is a difficult thing for them. So most take up a job in schools or colleges as Art teachers to support their family and that is where their passion for art and their creativity takes a back seat.

With the daily struggle in life, lack of funds, marketing or communication skills, it is very difficult for most of them to think about State or National exposure for their work. The international exposure is a dream for them.

I strongly feel, this is where organizations like World Palette International can play a very important role in offering these unknown artists all the supports possible for getting them the right exposure in right places. So for International exposure, systematic organizational efforts can give them the necessary confidence and logistic support."

(A painting by Prof. Balagi Ubale- Professor Ubale is known for painting religious subjects that stir an emotional response.)

Q. I understand that World Palette International is working with the creators of myartspace.com in order to help promote the artists that your organization represents. Can you go into detail about your thoughts on how such alliances are vital in regards to gaining exposure for emerging artists from India? What do you see as the 'big picture' in this venture?

A. When we formed WPI, My marketing vision was very clear. The entire marketing strategy evolved from a deep study of issues and a result oriented approach. I saw from the beginning WPI as a National and International marketing platform for emerging artists to showcase their work and to obtain the necessary wider exposure to sell it.

In the first place, my study on the Art Gallery Exhibitions in India did not reveal very encouraging results in terms of sales for upcoming artists. The so called buyers in India go for famous names who are like brands. And it is looked purely as an investment for attractive returns in the future. In most cases upcoming Artist’s work is only admired by Art lovers, critics and faculty but sales are remote, if any.

The Agents and art dealers or art Galleries too, promote only who they want to promote irrespective of lack of quality and creativity. I personally feel after my serious interaction and debates with senior artists that the emerging artist has no place here in this totally commercial Art world where art is not seen, respected, and appreciated as an art but a piece of investment for making money.

Whereas, my study and interactions with people in the West and Europe discovered one important aspect about the people of these regions. Everyone appreciates original art and whenever possible likes to adore their walls with original works of art. This is a very important aspect for art and artists to flourish were art is admired, appreciated and bought.

My study also revealed that Asian Art and especially Indian art in the last decade has become more popular in many countries all over the world and many Art lovers have taken a liking for an ethnic color palette and admire cultural, religious and traditional works of art from India. This was strong enough reason for us to look for alliances and associations with overseas Artists, Art Galleries, Art net works and organizations to represent our interest in respective regions.

My first breakthrough was with UK’s very old and popular Art studio www.commissionaportrait.com involved with commissioned work in portrait painting. When they thought of launching their website www.newartcollectors.com to promote Art and Artist from all over the world, our five Artists work was selected with great admiration and recognition and our artist’s presence was solicited at once for mutual interest.

So to say, in regards to associations and alliances with overseas Art organizations, we always thought of the prime importance of obtaining wider exposure and effective commercial angles for our artists. As I have mentioned before, my initial plans reveal long term plans to open our representative offices in the US, Canada, UK and Middle East.

I have always seen the bigger picture in this era of globalization. People all over the world are changing their preferences and looking beyond for new ideas, concepts and thinking. Our Indian Art is also playing a major role while crossing borders. Its ethnicity, earthly palette, bright and refreshing colors with cultural, traditional, and a rural touch is attracting attention of art lovers from all over. And if that is any indication, we must have our presence in the outside world, beyond the Indian horizons. And the best way to do this is with the alliances, associations of same minded people who are professionally dedicated and working with passion and vision."

( Another painting by Prof. Anil Naik)
Q. I admire the work of the artists from World Palette International that I have viewed. There seems to be a lot of tradition behind these works of art- yet it is displayed in different ways. For example, the work of Gopal Sharma appears to be very influenced by traditional themes of Indian culture while the work of Kumud Dass conveys this tradition in a more contemporary manner. Both artists capture the essence of India. It must be a joy for you to see these traditional themes handled in various styles- can you comment about the artists you've worked with and the direction they are going with World Palette International?

A. "It is indeed a pleasure to see a variety in the style of work by every artist. Of course, the style whether traditional or contemporary are a direct reflection of their own cultural surroundings. The renderings developed with their own creative talents is an individual style influenced by studies of art and culture. For example, Gopal Sharma’s style and rendering in miniature art is a typical influence of his living in Udaipur where traditionally families are painting miniature forms of art from the Mughal era. The children -while growing- only see everyone in the family and around drawing miniature art on Mughal Kings and queens life styles or Hindu religious scriptures. Whereas, Kumud Dass renders Buddha and Buddhism in a bold, contemporary style with a cool, peaceful blue color palette.

As a principle, we decided to give our artists total freedom to produce whatever concepts; in whatever art form they desire. The only condition and rule applicable is, every art piece created in whatever form, or style is subject to prior approval by our team of senior artists, as regards to themes, quality of work, framing, mounting and pricing. And only then the art works are included in our collection for necessary exposure.

For our Artists, we have no fees, no membership enrollment and membership fee. The original art works are always in the artist’s possession. No work is kept on a consignment basis as is done with art agents and dealers. Only good quality photo prints or high resolution images of the Artwork are what we require from the Artists. Our Artist are free to sale their work directly to any buyer if he finds one and no commission is charged on the direct sale.

WPI tries to get the price that the artist wants for his or her work. On this no commission is charged. As a rule, we want our Artist to get his price first. If the buyer wants to negotiate on the price we have in writing from the artist his bottom price. We work with our artists on this understanding and that has helped us in boosting up confidence level in our artist to use WPI as a very reliable, trustworthy platform to sale their work through. On realization of sale, payment is made without any delays.

It is a WIN-WIN situation for an artist as no exploitation of any kind is experienced by an artist at any stage. With our policies firmly in place and our honest efforts we have earned a good reputation among artists. More and more artists want to use this platform and World Palette International is building up a great collection of Indian Art with different strokes, styles, renderings, and themes."

(A painting by Ramesh Pachpande- Ramesh has devoted many years to the cultural study of Rajasthan. He is skilled in figurative painting and works with all media with ease.)

Q. Many of the artists associated with World Palette International have attended or have instructed at Sir J.J School of Art, Mumbai. However, I noticed that some of the artists are self-taught. For example, Kishore Nandvdekar is a self-taught artist who has won National Awards for his art. Is it harder for the self-taught artists to gain exposure outside of India- compared to the artists who have trained at a School of Art? Or is their equal concern for both the trained and self-taught artists from India in regards to gaining exposure internationally?

A. "Allow me to express myself on this, I would say it really doesn't’t matter whether you are an Art graduate or a self starter or self-taught Artist. If you have it in you and have taken pain to develop your skills, under the guidance of some GURU, you are bound to shine. After all your work speaks volumes about your creative vision, ability and sensitivity. I know engineers, doctors from totally deferent professional backgrounds learning Fine Art under some Art Teachers or just by themselves and producing very talented work of Art. I would put it this way,
it is only hard for everyone until they make it at the top. Everything in-between is an up-hill task for all. It is not a bed of roses for anyone.

All the Artists I have shown you the work of like Prof. Anil Naik, Prof. Srikant Jadhav, S.K. Desai, Prof. Balagi Ubale, Ramesh Pachpande, are very senior Artists and their work is much appreciated, admired, rewarded and in personal collections in India and out-side India. They have received top class honors at State and National levels. They are recognized in the art world for the all-around brilliance in their work. However, they have failed in gaining international exposure.

Just recently, we have produced a DVD on Prof. Anil Naik’s Demo on portrait painting. I consider this man has magic in his fingers while working on portraits. We have plans to do a proper launch with marketing promotion of his DVD during his exhibition scheduled in the month of December this year. We have plans to launch the same CD in US markets too. It is developed for art students, hobbyist, amateurs to learn techniques in portrait painting.

I think personally, this digital medium offers a great live demo for art students to learn with a close look at his techniques. He has a mastery over all media,. Water colors, Oil, Acrylic, Pastel, Charcoal or color pencils. I think he has amazing talent in him to produce portraits from a live subject and I would be glad to show you a short clip of his demo in portrait painting.
He is equally good in realistic work, abstract work, illustration and figurative work. You will be amazed to view his work. But, the man is struggling for a decent living. He is a senior faculty in our leading Art College Sir J.J. School of Art.
Same is the case with Prof. Srikant Jadhav, S.K. Desai. Ramesh Pachpande. I consider these artists as exceptionally brilliant and I have received praise for their excellent creations from the world over. But non have worked or made efforts seeking international exposure. I am convinced now, their socio economic conditions are responsible for this state of affairs.

If marketing efforts with the right strategy is in place for all these brilliant artists for International exposure, I am confident all of them can make it at the top."

(A painting by Srikant Jadhav- Srikant specializes in painting nature and flora. He is known for his excellent work in oil with photographic detail.)

Q. Finally, is there anything else you would like to say about World Palette International or the art coming out of India today?

A. "I can assure you, with my marketing plans in place for US, Canada and UK, all our artists work including our emerging artists like Kishore Nandvdekar, Ram Kharatmal, Suresh Bhosle, Kumud Dass, Balagi Ubale, Neelesh Ved and many more in our collection can create a
sensation in the west and Europe for its ethnic brilliance.
We have today many more Artists from rural areas who have brilliant creative talent which has not yet been shown to you. I strongly believe, today, Indian Art with its ethnic and cultural flavor, with traditional expressions, is very refreshing, and attractive to Art lovers, critics, and collectors in most of the Western and Europeans countries.
I strongly believe this is the right time to take Indian Art across the Indian shores. More of it needs to be showcased for wider exposure- more of our emerging talent- with their brilliant use of colors, concepts, renderings and sensitivity- needs to be seen!

I have developed very ambitious marketing plans for the US and Canada. I have been putting in many hours on the net to develop my contacts with Artists, Art Galleries and business institutes from the West and Europeans countries. I have received very encouraging responses from many.

Much of the ground work is done by World Palette International. It is only a matter of time for us to develop the right partners in these markets and forge ahead.

Knowing about myartspace.com at this time is therefore a great importance to us to explore a mutually beneficial relationship based upon a long-term understanding. I am indeed glad to know you all and to know that your activity in the Art field is in the same direction that we are pursuing.
Since we have developed ambitious plans for the US and Canada, surely it would be our pleasure to have more in-depth dialogue for a better understanding to work along on the same platform of our mutual interest.

I look forward to having more interaction with you to take this into the right direction for developing the potential of Indian Art all over the world."
I hope that you have enjoyed my interview with Ajay Angre- founder of World Palette International.
Take care, Stay true,
Brian Sherwin

1 comment:

Mycommunity said...

Those are pict great.
Thanks