Beauty with brains might be a rare combination but this talented artist from Ludhiana stands at a step even higher! Meet Calligraphy Artist Kamaljeet Kaur, who is not only brainy and beautiful but is also blessed with super flowing creativity, compassion and abundant amount of positive energy which reflects in her artworks and definitely makes her She – The complete all-rounder!
A caring wife and a loving mother, she has successfully instilled her sweet home with as much joy, art and positivity as possible. Professionally, she is a calligraphy artist, a designer and a photographer. Connect them all and you find a very unique combination which has only, but yes one thing in common – Her eye in selecting colours. That is one thing which definitely makes her artworks a class apart.
Having two Calligraphy exhibitions in her name – ‘Aneeq’ in Ludhiana (2011) and ‘Sadaf’ at Chandigarh (2012), she was also awarded with the title of “Bhaskar woman of the year” in 2011 and presented with the “Naari shakti award” in the field of Art in 2013 by Hind Samachar Group. With all these feathers in her cap, she has been featured in various print media articles for her divine Gurbani Calligraphy and her unique art style. She has a burning desire of taking Punjabi language and Gurmukhi Calligraphy to new heights so as to make it reach to the masses.
Amrit Ammu talked to Kamaljeet Kaur about her journey so far and her future projects.
1.) Tell us something about your background and qualifications?
I basically belong to Meerut in Uttar Pradesh and finished my schooling from there. I did my graduation from Sophia College, Ajmer and then went to Chandigarh for my post-graduation in Clothing and textiles. Later I got married and came to Ludhiana in 1994. That was the time when I was actually exposed to the Punjabi culture as in Meerut it was all limited within our family. Despite of belonging to a Sikh family, I was never actually interested in reading, writing or even speaking in Punjabi. Surprisingly, even after I came to Ludhiana, for quite some time I only used to talk to people who were from other states as it made me feel more comfortable. It was only gradually that I developed an interest for the Punjabi language and I got fascinated by the beauty of it that I started making efforts to learn it over a period of time.
2.) How did you start off your career?
I started off my career as a Lecturer in Fashion Designing which I did for 2 years till Sehaj, my daughter was born. I left that job to be with her and started doing all that I could do, from home. I always knew I wanted to do something creative so I started painting wall pictures for my friends according to their home interiors. I used to paint landscapes, flowers or whatever people would like for their houses. I would keenly go to their place, see the colour scheme of their house, take measurements and suggest them what frames would look good. Then slowly it got spread from my friends to their friends and so on. But then later when I started doing paintings with Gurbani Calligraphy, that was the time when people started buying them and that’s how it all clicked.
3.) So tell us how did you discover your path towards Gurbani Calligraphy, especially when you learnt Punjabi at much later years in your life?
I used to do Calligraphy from a very young age and I was always very fond of fonts but I didn’t know at that time that this particular art is called Calligraphy. I used to create cards, magazine covers and write titles for my files and folders. I still have got that set of 8 nibs which one of my friends had gifted to me in class 12th. Fonts used to fascinate me a lot and in that fascination around 12 years back, one day I just calligraphed the Mool Mantra (The main chant of Sikhs) and later on tried to understand it. That was when I thought that I should also have the knowledge about the alphabets and the Punjabi language. That is how I developed an urge to learn it.
Calligraphy was a dying art at the time when I discovered it, so I felt that this should be revived and since I belong to a Sikh family, I felt that I should be doing it in Gurmukhi. Today I have become known for doing it in Punjabi language, although my work is available in Hindi and English too. I really try that the colour scheme of my artworks should be very soothing to the eyes. I want to give that touch, that colour and style to this language that the people should feel proud to display it in front of their rooms and offices. I have a desire that this art should reach to the international standards and it should have a class which other calligraphy works have. That is my constant aim.
4.) As a novice calligraphy freelancer, you might also have had your struggle days in your career. Can you share some insights?
I started working as a Calligraphy designer for a renowned brand in Delhi. I tied up with them as their concept was also very new and since it was a brand promoting heritage, so they could relate to me. I worked with them for around 10 years and made a lot of Gurbani artworks and other designs for their store.
And struggle days- Yes, definitely I went through a lot of struggle as whatever I earned, I used to invest back in my art and being a housewife, I used to invest in my house also. I kept circulating the same thing while elaborating on it.
5.) Were there any Marketing strategies that you embarked upon to commercialize your artwork?
There were no marketing strategies as such, that is the reason why it took me so long. I evolved on Calligraphy art slowly and searched a lot to know various options and diverse scopes. Even today I start my day with an online search to know what’s new in calligraphy and what new can be done. My art just got spread through word of mouth and since it was a unique art so that really helped.
6.) What are the challenges that you face as a female calligraphy artist?
The biggest challenge is to make a balance between the house and work. There are many roles that a woman has to play as a daughter or as a wife or as a mother and on that I think that I still did well.
7.) So how do you strike a chord to make a Work-life balance?
Time management is the key. I set a schedule for a day and stick sincerely to it. I also did social Management and just discarded the people who were wasting time in my life. I limited my friend circle and avoided all the negative elements. It happened slowly as I learnt with time. But this is what something that has really helped me.
8.) Creativity and administrating a work profession are like two extremes, how do you probably manage with these both?
My husband is taking care of all the administration work, which otherwise I couldn’t have handled. He is the one who is dealing with all of it while I focus on the creative tasks only. Doing it together, we are also able to spend a lot of time together and everyday seems like a Sunday to us! One more thing which is a blessing is this that because it is my passion, so I don’t get tired. With this, I can really sit up late and then get up again to do it. The whole work process is so enjoyable for me that there is no stress in it and so there are no complaints.
9.) In almost every profession, one also comes across certain tough times. How did you deal with them in your journey and what keeps you going?
I did have lows in my career but my family has been very supportive. My daughter, despite being so young, is very supportive and adds to my inspiration. What keeps me going is the love of my family and the fire inside me that I want to do something.
10.)What would you like to suggest to the upcoming artists?
Be honest, original and keep working hard. Honesty and sincerity will reflect in your work automatically and you will definitely get rewarded for it. Never try to adopt shortcuts because remember that the world is watching you. So anything that is built on quick steps will not last for long.
Be ready to experiment and ready to accept failures. If you want to achieve something, you will have to come across many kinds of negative forces. Everything is going to be a part of that, so be ready.
11.)Tell us something about your current projects and future plans?
To keep exhibiting more work, to keep spreading this language and to keep adding more things so that I can relate to the youth and make them feel proud. That was the reason I introduced floor lamps, stoles, abstract paintings, mugs and wedding invites so as to give everything a very modern touch.
My upcoming artwork will be on women kurtis, silk cushions and calligraphy on old folk-instruments like Rabaab, Taaus and Dilruba. In photography, I am into child photography as I feel very comfortable with the kids and I think they love me back too. I also love to do wedding photography as I get really fascinated by the wedding celebrations.
12.) How do you sum up your well spent day?
I end my day with dreams for the next day. Excited about the new projects and dreaming about them. Thinking about the designs and then I don’t realise when I fall asleep with all that in mind. I always wish I had some more hours in a day. My passion keeps me driven for doing better and better.
Text & Photography : Amrit Ammu
This interview has also been featured in the April issue of the Online magazine: Rang Punjabi (Refer Page 07-08 of the magazine)