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Women In Real Estate: Interview with a Wall Artist who Specializes in Commercial Spaces

I’d like to introduce you to a very special woman named Mamta Singh. She is an Indian artist, who is doing incredible things, and is most famous for her commercial wall art. I was so honored that she was willing to allow me to interview her and learn more about her fascinating story. She has overcome obstacles and pursued her passion, even when others told her she couldn’t do it. But her resilient spirit carried her through and now she is well known throughout India for her murals and “doodling” style of art. She has even committed herself to education and supporting other artists in developing their own style career in the arts. I am so blessed to have had the opportunity to speak with her and learn more about the inspirational work she does. Check it out:


Mamta Singh's in front of her wall art in a cafe

Photo Credit @ArtistMamtaSingh


@MackofAllTradesNY: I came across your work on IG and it is incredible! And after reading the bio on your website I was even more fascinated by your story and excited to speak with you. Tell me about your journey and how you got into wall art.


@ArtistMamtaSingh: I come from a village in the countryside where there isn’t a lot of economic opportunity. I was lucky enough to get myself enrolled in an English speaking school and my father wanted me to do CA or become a judge but both didn’t end up happening.


It was challenging because my father is a politician, and very well respected in the community. Most women in India marry young, so if I was not going to study accounting and not going to get married right away, it was considered very unusual. My father told me that if I did that, I would have to support myself financially.


I was living in Jaipur with my brother at the time, which is the capital of Rajasthan. It was then that I first got interested in painting. I started by watching YouTube videos and tried to recreate the painting techniques myself. During the day I would work various jobs to support myself and at night I would practice my art. Art became my passion and I realized it was what I was meant to do. The work I was doing to earn money wasn’t satisfying at all. I was a receptionist at one point and a waitress at another. I probably hopped over 10 different jobs in 25 months. I even googled ways to earn money. None of it made me happy though, so I just kept practicing my art at night and hoping that would lead somewhere someday.


Early on I realized I was most drawn to the stroke technique where you basically load a brush with colors and draw something without having to draw “stuff.” It’s more free flowing. I don’t do faces or anything like that. It’s more organic.


Photo Credit @ArtistMamtaSingh


After feeling burnt out from working odd jobs I thought it was time to give my art a real try. I started painting mugs, clothes, anything I could customize really. Then I started displaying my goods in cafes nearby and I started selling them too. I realized that I could do this and really survive on my own if I worked hard at it.


Then in 2011, I got really interested in graffiti, because in India there are a lot of incredible street artists who create murals and many people are famous for it. It really spoke to me. At about that same time, I got a really crazy idea. I happened to be living in my father’s house in Jaipur, which was provided by the government because he is a politician, and here there is a law that government housing gets repainted every 5 years. So I decided to paint the whole inside of the house with my art, knowing that it would eventually get repainted back.


I went to many cafes and showed them the designs. One of the cafe owners liked the idea and I got my first wall to paint. On that piece I wrote humorous quotes and made it very interactive and it became very popular in town. Lots of people visited the cafe just to see the art.


The mural she painted in her home that started it all...

Photo Credit @ArtistMamtaSingh


In the meantime, I continued to work on other jobs during the day and it was during this time too that I earned a master’s degree in commerce and became a lawyer on paper. Then, needing a job, I used that and became a lecturer in marketing management, the area I studied. So I had a “profession” but I just kept gradually working on my art on the side. Somehow I always was able to find time for my art. And then, after about eight months, I got my second art commission! That was a really good sign for me.


My brother and I supported each other a lot during this time. We both weren’t earning much money from our art - me with my paintings and him with his films - but we just kept practicing and supporting each other in a positive way. Eventually, after continuous work on the side, it really started to pick up. My brother did all of my films on YouTube which really helped me to get exposure. I am grateful to him for that.


Mamta and her brother, Virendra

Photo Credit @ArtistMamtaSingh


That is when I really started thinking of my art like a business. I had already studied marketing and economics in school, so I decided I should start to apply it to my work. I understood that I really needed my artwork to be strong before I could start selling my art. So at that point I made the shift to pursue it in a more serious way.


I started out by posting 365 days a year non stop. That first year I got no appreciation from the public but I just kept doing it. Then after 2 years people started noticing me and giving me work. Gradually more work started to happen. I started to get regular projects. And even then I kept working hard on developing my craft. I went to many artists and spoke with them. I went and read many books. I saw many videos. I was eager to learn more and did whatever I could to do so.


Up to this point though, I was really just copying art. The art I was doing was not original. I was making it by mixing art that I saw and I knew that if I wanted to sell myself in the market I needed to have original ideas. I started to wonder who could show me how to make my own art by my own thoughts?


That’s when my career turned and when I truly came to figure out my own style and get that on paper. From there it just took off. I was getting a lot of work. In fact I got so much work that I finally decided I would create a course on it. I called it the “Doodle Art Workshop.'' It’s really a step by step procedure for younger artists if they want to go into this field. My goal is to shorten their timeline by sharing with them what I learned along the way.


These workshops have picked up too. It’s taken me to different villages throughout India, Bali, the Philippines and now even Dubai. I am also creating a wall murals workshop. This will be a residential workshop for 7 days. Each student will create one mural from start to finish and we will also be making a video of him or her creating their mural. We plan to give them that video so if they want to go into the field it can be the start of their portfolio. I’m really excited for this project!


Photo Credit @ArtistMamtaSingh


@MackofAlltradesNY: Were there any concerns from your family or friends that it wasn’t a good idea to go into wall art? If so, how were you able to look past that and take the risk?


@ArtistMamtaSingh: Well, yes. To be honest, I revolted a lot and went through a really hard time. I didn’t feel like I was in control of my life and I wondered to myself, what will I do? It was during this time that I came across a book called “The Secret” by Rhonda Bryant. This book really opened my mind. It taught me that things can happen but you have to think positively, you cannot doubt it for a moment. I started dreaming that my life would turn around and believe it or not, things started falling in place.


I realized I had the power to change my thoughts. If I'm sad, I am only thinking in that direction, but if I consciously begin to think positively (even if it seems like an unrealistic dream) your mood begins to shift. You don’t have to worry how you will reach it, just that you will get there. Then you start to make baby steps. After that your mind forces you to think more about the steps of actually doing and it eventually begins to shift your whole life.


My parents did not speak to me for three years at one point. When I came home I was not greeted well. I think they worried that I would not be successful in the career I was choosing because it was out of the normal here. But I just kept working on my art and then people started interviewing me for articles. I was even in a commercial. I would send them through to my father on What’s App.


I understood it though. Where I come from a career in art is considered low. It’s not respected. My father wanted me to stand out in society and make him proud. I was the only woman in my village who has been educated and they really wanted me to become an example. Because I was drifting away from studies, I think they thought I would never be an example. Then when he saw that I was doing good things and getting recognized he started talking to me again. In fact, our relationship improved so much that I will be organising my wall mural workshops in his coming hotel ventures!


Struggles ultimately feel small if you are thinking only about the parts you want to achieve. Think of your passion as your secret boyfriend. You do everything to spend time with it and celebrate it. You may hide it a lot in the beginning, but in the end it does not matter. Your love for it will eventually come out. Your mindset should be focused on achieving rather than on thinking about who may approve or not. Just ignore the negativity and in a matter of time, two maybe three years, it will change. I used to always picture success in my mind and now I am very proud of myself. I even have a mural in my home!


@MackofAllTradesNY: What sorts of projects do you do most often and who is your typical client?


@ArtistMamtaSingh: My first project was in a cafe as I told you. And that is probably what I am best known for. I do a lot of restaurants, hostels, and hotels. In terms of residential properties other than my own, I have only done 3 or 4. Most of my business comes from commercial companies.


Photo Credit @ArtistMamtaSingh


I also do a lot of work for event companies. The three major event companies I do work for are Sacred Pushkar, Wonderflip, Jaipur Literature Fest. These events really helped me to get a lot of eyes and a lot of marketing.


Marketing wise, I also made a Facebook page and Instagram account. I get a lot of business through references too. I keep researching new ways to market my business and I continue with mailing things. But social media has been the most successful way I have received new business.


@MackofAllTradesNY: What has been your experience with sexism in your industry?


@ArtistMamtaSingh: Male dominance doesn’t really work in metro cities in India. Women empowerment needs to begin in the deep rural areas, the areas where education isn’t as strong. It is in those areas that women are treated badly and they usually accept it. If I had accepted life in that way I would not be the person that I am today. That is why I left.


Some of my friends accept themselves to be victims because of their mindset. If you change your mindset, it will change you. I respect the fact that the fault is in our education system and that it needs to be changed. Personally though, I’d say 90% of the people I work with are male. I only have three females on my team. And all my clients and everything generally are male. And to be honest, I haven’t seen anything that shows they are disregarding my position. Maybe that is because if you are not looking at yourself like this, you don’t see it. I have friends who say that I do not live in a realistic world, but I choose to focus on what I want to focus on.


I know who I am and what I want to put out into the world. I respect everybody: males, uneducated males, women, people in the city and people in rural areas. I know who I want to work with and who I don’t want to work with. That is a big choice every girl should make. If I don’t want to work with someone, I choose not to.


And this may seem unrelated but I believe creative minds should get hobbies. In India there is a lack of hobbies which creates a suppression of creativity. Many people are in IT, they're engineers, chartered accountants, etc. and they just don’t have a creative outlet - men and women. Hobbies are what fills your heart with empathy, and creates meaning in your life. If you don’t have hobbies you spend your time focusing on toxic things like gossip. Art is therapy, Whatever your art is it causes you to get calmer inside and you emerge a more empathetic person. This has been proven scientifically. Aggression can go into art, rather than towards people. So I think both men and women of India can benefit from this and it would reduce sexism and benefit society as a whole.


Photo Credit @ArtistMamtaSingh


@MackofAllTradesNY: Putting yourself out in the world can be difficult, especially as a woman in a patriarchal society. How do you deal with that? How do you find the courage to be “seen”?


@ArtistMamtaSingh: Honestly, I’m really shy as a person. Putting myself out there is a necessity in my line of work. In the beginning I was not great at content. Before I would only post pictures of my work and write little things. I was never really comfortable with the camera. Over time you learn to act natural, but that comes through practice. I just keep trying to put myself out there to really practice.


It’s funny because in workshops I’m chatty and friendly. I personally see change in me because in public I’m a very energetic person. People always comment on that too but inside I feel differently. It really helps that I love my work. I think that brings out an energy in me because I’m doing what I love. It makes me joyful.


Photo Credit @ArtistMamtaSingh


Now that we have a team, I’ve begun thinking about expanding ourselves to other countries. I’m learning about delegating because I have never been a boss. This is a new sort of work pressure. We are learning as we go. I think big changes will be coming soon so I will continue to learn as I put myself out there more.


@MackofAllTradesNY: How would you describe your artistic style?


@ArtistMamtaSingh: I would call my style illustrative doodling. With “doodle art” you do not draw anything accurate or with measurements. It’s more communicative. As long as the viewer understands the thing you are drawing and the message you are communicating. There are a lot of lines in my art and I love a flowing brush on the wall. I am always still in the process of understanding and developing my own style. Style just comes from within.


When I’m teaching I tell my students the example of how in school when we learned to write we had to copy letters. We did it so many times that you eventually remembered it without having to see it anymore. But every human being has their own unique handwriting despite learning the letters the same way. It’s the same with art. You learn it but you develop your own style.


It becomes a mix of everything, like lines, doodles, colors, splashes. As an artist you end up mixing all of these according to the clients demand and based on what they give me in a brief. I don’t do any copy art anymore. If they give me the image that they want me to do, I deny it because that is not my original work and style. If you give me a brief, I am able to understand it and develop my own ideas and draw accordingly.


Photo Credit @ArtistMamtaSingh


@MackofAllTradesNY: What was your favorite wall art project to date and why?


@ArtistMamtaSingh: Jaipur Literature Fest because they gave me the place and just asked me to draw on the music theme. It was a pretty open brief and then they just set me free! I ended up doing a live drawing for three days at the event and people came inside the exhibit to see the art as it was being created. That project also gave me a rise in my career. It was a very fun installation because as I was painting, people were asking questions and cheering me on.



@MackofAllTradesNY: What would you say was your most challenging wall art project to date and why?


@ArtistMamtaSingh: Probably my first commercial wall art for a few different reasons. First, the owner had liked the mural at home and the wall art he had seen at my house was all a copy. I wanted to do something unique, not copy anyone else. So he gave me the theme of chai tea and asked me to make something about it. I thought about it and came up with some ideas. I am good at cracking word jokes so I made many quotes like “getting nau-tea” and do some “met-tea-tations.” They were all puns. I painted those along cups of Chai tea. It was funny and it turned out well.


But what also made it very challenging was that it was the first time I had been asked to do something like this. I had never drawn in front of others before so I asked the owner if I could draw at night when the place was empty. He agreed but when the time came to start, he decided to stay there. He said, “I cannot leave a girl alone here and night by herself, you draw and I’ll stay.” I was so nervous that I would make mistakes and everything but I did end up painting the entire project overnight. And once people saw it, they really liked it. The owner liked it so much that he went to extra efforts to protect it and it ended up being on the wall for three years.


@MackofAllTradesNY: What advice would you give to someone who has a passion but thinks painting murals or creating art might not be a viable career?


@ArtistMamtaSingh: Consistency. You just have to keep practicing. What happens nowadays is people are losing patience really fast. If they’ve done something for one or two months and they aren’t famous, they can’t understand why not and they give up. I was consistent for two years posting on Facebook every single day before anyone even started to pay attention to me.


People tend to create simple art, post it or copy others' work and think that it will be enough. What they don’t see is that an artist they really like and admire has worked 9+ years to get to this position. People tend to get disheartened too easily. You have to be consistent and practice all the time. You also have to put out your work all the time. If you are consistent, people notice and you will get work. People right now come two days a week to work and expect it to happen for them, that just isn’t how it works.


I also think people are much more relaxed, those who have financial stability. I had to push off earning money in the beginning but I now have plenty of money. I’m in a position where I can even give to my parents. It has to be more than money though that drives someone. For me, what drives me is the work I do. If I don't work on my art every day, I get very sad. Even when I am traveling a lot I wonder how I can work on something while I’m in a new place. My mind is always working like that. I don’t even see it as work now, it’s just a habit.


@MackofAllTradesNY: How do you handle the stress of money when you run your own business?


@ArtistMamtaSingh: I tell my students don’t be a struggling artist. If you don’t have money your passion will die quickly. I wanted money to flow so I worked on jobs side by side while I kept my art going. Change your job in the meantime if you are not feeling interested. When I started my art I felt passionate about it so I made time for it. I never took leave of my job until I was ready. I made savings and kept making savings, and then when I knew I could take a leap, I made that decision.


If you are at the point and ready to take a leap of faith make sure you understand your business and strategize. When I did that I told myself that I would work on it for three years - all in - and if it didn’t work out I could always come back to teaching. So far, I haven’t needed to do that, although I’ve created my own workshops and come back to teaching now on my own terms.


@MackofAllTradesNY: What do you hope your legacy will be?


@ArtistMamtaSingh: I would like to inspire the people I teach. I want those students to learn from my journey and become something themselves. I want to teach students who will go out and create.


I also want to create employment for people in the arts field in my country. With my doodle workshops and trainings in schools I am excited I am starting to create employment. This will give jobs in arts and will enable people to fulfill them. Right now creative people are not getting jobs doing what they love, so they don’t pursue their creative instincts and it dies. I want to change that. I want to help people to realize that if you want to become an individual artist, you can get a job where you will be paid fairly and not exploited. I would like to help others create a name for themselves in art.


Photo Credit @ArtistMamtaSingh


After FaceTiming with @ArtistMamtaSingh from halfway around the world, I left the conversation super inspired and re-energized to tackle my own work! My biggest takeaway from her insight was do what you are passionate about, what you believe in and what you love - even if others aren’t taking note or even being very encouraging. As long as you live your truth, it will eventually all work out. I also took away from her a great reminder in the power of resetting your own mindset. That alone can change everything for you.


So thank you Mamta for trailblazing creative careers in the arts in India! Thank you for mentoring others and supporting them to follow your path and thank you for your incredible artwork! I would love to sit in a cafe one day and sip a chai latte and admire your beautiful wall art!


Forever Grateful,

Mack



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Exhaustive and mesmerizing interview! I'll definitely have to read it again since it was so packed with information, insight and inspiration. Thank you 😊

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