Last week, this writer found herself catching up with Mumbai-based Sabeena Karnik, who is – and prepare to stare in wonder here – a paper typographer. Simply put, she combines paper and lettering, typography or illustration, in order to create eye-catching, colourful pieces of art. And trust me when I say, they’re nothing short of masterpieces, some of them taking up to a whopping twelve hours to complete, that too in one sitting! Surreal, but true.
In her own words, Sabeena is interested in “anything artistic, creative and handcrafted, be it clothes, music, food, movies, fine art.” “What defines me as a person,” she says, “is originality and not wanting to be like anyone else. My friends and family perceive me as someone who is strong, focused, crazy, unstoppable even, till I’m completely satisfied. And I always follow my heart.”
But my luck didn’t quite end there.
Next up, I also managed to chat with Swaati Chattopadhyay who in her own words is, “a freelance writer, Odissi dancer and WAHM (Work At Home Mother) to a very opinionated toddler. Dilliwali by all definitions (love and hate), she describes herself as a compulsive work at all-fingers-in-every-pie kind of multi-tasker, trivia-hunter and conspiracy-theorist who tends to oscillate between oh-so-social and asocial modes.
She started quilling about five years ago, when she found herself “at a certain point of inflection,” in her life: “living a massive chunk of vela time, in a completely different city – away from family and friends in Delhi where she had always lived; a city she always loved.” Her love for paper, making things with her hands, and funky earrings therefore, converged quite naturally into quilling, which now fed all three passions. “I thought I should fiddle with it a bit. Then I fell into it eyeswide, facedown, and now it’s become such an important idiom in which I speak,” she told me in conversation.
Meet The Patron Saints of Paper –SABEENA KARNIK
Q: Why quilling?
A: “My fascination with paper led me to stumble upon a way to use it in typography. I never knew it was even called quilling until much later! Somehow the mélange just clicked well and before I realised it, I started getting assignments.”
Q: What do you love the most about what you do?
A: “The most interesting part about what I do is that it’s never repetitive. That’s the advantage when you create something with your hands. It’s always going to be unique. Additionally paper is so very versatile it has this magical quality where it’s constantly transforming. There are no boundaries or rules when it comes to experimenting and that always leads to wonderful discoveries.”
Q: If you weren’t into quilling, what else do you think you might have ended up doing?
A: “If I wasn’t in this profession, I have no idea what I’d be doing, but it would definitely be something art related because that’s been in me ever since I was a child.”
Q: What do you do to get your creative juices flowing? And what do you do when you hit a creative block?
A: I always sketch and draw to get my creativity out. I love observing nature and documenting beautiful patterns and phenomena in nature. A creative block hasn’t happened as yet!”
Q: What is the one thing you indulge in often or after a crazy day at work? What has been your most expensive work related indulgence?
A: “I love to indulge in a shoulder and back rub after a crazy day working. There are times when I have to sit all day long, to just finish an artwork. It literally does break the back sometimes. I wouldn’t be able to measure any work related indulgence in terms of money. It has to be my time, and the patience and nurturing that I invest in my profession which is my biggest and most valuable indulgence and asset.”
Q: A creation of yours that you are most proud of (or a moment till now that has been truly landmark)- with respect to quilling?
A: “A project I did two years ago for Karnataka tourism is the highlight of my career. It was something I felt was promoting a landmark place in my country and it ended up being published all over the world, on billboards and magazines, which made people more aware of India.”
Q: Five words to define your brand of creativity?
A: “Intricate, whimsical, unreal, joyous and crazy is how I would describe my brand of creativity.”
Q: A crafter or a fabulous project that you think is like totally awesome and you look up to?
A: “There are way too many artists and crafters out there who have created history with their works. Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel is the most awe-inspiring and fabulous work of art according to me. The sheer expanse and scale of being able to hand-paint an entire ceiling by just one human, not to mention the vision behind it, it’s just extraordinary.”
Sabeena Karnik can be reached via her website and on Instagram. You can also shop, lust, commission work or simply just get in touch with her like this writer did, via Facebook
To read our fabulous conversation with Delhi’s very own queen of quilling, Swaati Chattopadhyay, Part I of Makers and Shakers who quill, click here.
And that’s a wrap, you guys!