In today’s digital age, emotionally intelligent artists are using social media to connect to the right audience.
15-year-old Reuben Menezes is a happy, colourful mess. Wiping the glistening sweat off his brow, he carefully clicks a photograph of his latest work of art and uploads it on his social media pages. Within a few seconds, ‘likes’ from his online followers on these portals began pouring in.
A design junkie, Menezes spends most of his after-college hours creating original comic-art illustrations on paper. He hopes he can use social media to turn his passion for art into a full-time career someday.
“My brother and his band members saw my work on Facebook and Instagram and asked me to design some artwork samples for their album cover. It’s a great experience and I’m really looking forward to working with them and other clients in future,” he says enthusiastically.
Menezes, who is keen on joining the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad for further studies, started using social media as an online art gallery to showcase his work only recently. In just a few months, he’s been able to connect with art lovers, artists, as well as potential business clients from around the world.
Like Menezes, talented young artists in India are now discovering that social media can help them as well as their potential clients understand the power of their artwork. Through this medium, many creative folk are also using their subjective art to attract business clients who are looking to meet purely objective goals.
Moreover, in a country where art is not a mainstream career, and artists are forced to take up day jobs to finance their creative calling, this digital connectivity is proving to be an easy and affordable way to find an audience that is willing to pay for artwork, and not just appreciate it.
Gone are the days when artists needed influential connections to help them make their art profitable. Today’s emotionally intelligent artists are no longer ‘waiting to be discovered’.
These artists are self-aware and have the motivation and social skills to regularly influence and engage a profitable audience through social media—without compromising on their creativity or ethics.
Here are 4 emotionally intelligent artists in India who have achieved phenomenal success mainly through social media:
Illustrator Alicia Souza moved to Bengaluru from Abu Dhabi in 2010 to co-found Chumbak, an Indian lifestyle brand known for its quirky and colourful merchandise. Initially shy and awkward in social settings, she preferred to work behind the scenes. But when she parted ways with Chumbak to start out on her own, Souza realised she would have to grow comfortable with being in the limelight.
Taking to social media, she began to share everyday events of her life through what she did best: creating fun, relatable illustrations. This social media exposure soon doubled up as her work portfolio, giving clients a sense of her unique talent and personality. With over 132k followers on Instagram and Facebook today, Souza is one of the most popular freelance illustrators in the country.
Besides designing art for T-shirts, mugs, notebooks, tote bags and other similar products on her eponymous store, she’s also worked on projects for brands such as Penguin, Google, The Mint, Yahoo, AOL, 3M, Wipro, Cadbury, INK, Time Out, Cornetto, Air Asia, Kyoorius, Amazon, The Hindu, Champak and Tinkle.
Love him or hate him, you can’t ignore him. Whether it his energetic performance at the YouTube fanfest 2018 in Mumbai or his alleged romance with model-actor Gauhar Khan, choreographer Melvin Louis is in the news, a lot! A dance lover right from childhood, Louis often thought of taking up the art form full-time someday.
Annoyed at how most people wanted to stick to monotonous and passé dance moves, he developed Krump hop and Bolly swag—two entirely new dance styles—while he was teaching dance in his free time. After losing his job as an investment banker in April 2008, Melvin decided to do something that made him irreplaceable. That’s when he made up his mind to become a professional dancer.
Posting videos of his unique moves on YouTube and other social media sites helped him get noticed by big names in the film and entertainment industry. He soon got his big breakthrough Dance India Dance (2009), a dance competition reality television show. “The era of social media was in full swing, so people started noticing me. Everything happened so quickly, and my ambition regarding dance kept getting bigger,” he says in an interview with Sakaltimes.com. Currently a dance teacher, motivational speaker and a Bollywood choreographer, Louis makes sure he regularly engages with his 370k followers on Instagram and 813k subscribers on his YouTube channel—in spite of his busy schedule.
DIVINE & Naezy
Underground Hindi rappers Vivian Fernandes and Naved Sheikh (aka DIVINE and Naezy the Baa) are the inspiration behind Zoya Akhtar’s upcoming film Gully Boy starring Alia Bhatt and Ranveer Kapoor. Born and brought up in the slums of Andheri’s JB Nagar in Mumbai, DIVINE first gained widespread popularity in 2013 after he uploaded his single Yeh Mera Bombay on YouTube.
Naezy, who grew up in another Mumbai slum, in Kurla West, became an overnight rap sensation in 2014 after his rap video debut Aafat (made on an iPad with zero budget) went viral on social media. A year later, Naezy’s talent got him a deal with alternative culture promoter and talent agency Only Much Louder, which propelled him onto a stage where he performed before 20,000 fans at NH7 in Pune.
Around the same time, Divine also achieved additional success through Mere Gully Mein, a song he sang in collaboration with Naezy, and his solo single Jungli Sher (shot entirely on an iPhone 6). His online fame helped him become the first Indian rapper to be invited to perform for BBC 1 radio show host and rapper Charlie Sloth’s iconic ‘Fire in the Booth’ series. With their honest lyrics about living on the dark side of Mumbai and their down-to-earth personas, these rappers have captured the collective sentiment of social media users across the country.
It is estimated that there will be around 258.7 million social media users in India in 2019, an increase from around 168 million in 2016.