How She Does It: Swapna Dinesh
Swapna Dinesh is from the erstwhile royal town of Thripunithura in Kerala, India. She is a self-taught artist who designs and hand-crafts jewelry, sculpts with cold porcelain, and paints. Swapna was one of 300+ artists who contributed to the mixed-media installation “Into the Forest,” exhibited in November 2017 at the Spinning Plate Gallery in Pittsburg, PA. She has written articles for Creative Bead Chat Magazine and works as an art instructor. Swapna is also a mother and homemaker, avid bookworm, and loves to experiment in the kitchen. You might find her exploring museums and libraries; the older, the better. Enjoy!
SM: Please introduce yourself and your family.
SD: My name is Swapna Dinesh and I’m from Kerala, India. My husband and I have been married for 16 years and we have a sweet 11-year-old daughter. I have a master’s degree in international business but I quit my corporate career to embark on a creative journey after I had my daughter.
SM: Tell us about your artwork/creative endeavors.
SD: I am a self-taught sculptor of cold porcelain clay, and I design and create jewelry with beads, wires, and semi-precious stones. I have mostly made miniatures, beads, and floral elements which I incorporate into my jewelry. My website, Swardaa.com, is where I put down my thought processes as well as the trials, errors, and triumphs of my creative endeavors. Indian folk art and those of other countries inspire me a lot. I have made jewelry based on Warli art, one stroke paintings, blue pottery, etc. I have also worked with several art mediums like charcoal, faux glass paints, watercolors, and acrylics. I’ve had the privilege of having my jewelry and articles written on Pietra Dura (seen in the Taj Mahal and the blue pottery of Jaipur) published by the USA-based Creative Bead Chat Magazine. I have been working as an art instructor for students ranging from ages 4-15 for more than two years, and I lead workshops in fabric painting, glass painting, and charcoal art.
SM: What goals do you have for your art? How would you define your “life’s work”?
SD: My life’s work is about doing what I love the most, exploring new techniques and mediums, and hopefully inspiring at least a few people to step out from their comfort zones and explore their creative sides. For me, incorporating the motifs of various folk arts into my cold porcelain work is essential. The possibilities are huge and exciting. I would love to have my own studio space in order to conduct workshops and share what I have learned and to reciprocate the support and inspiration that I have received from so many special artists around the globe.
SM: How has motherhood changed you creatively?
SD: Creativity and motherhood are very similar; you have this perfect picture in your mind and you put in your best efforts to make it that way, but as you advance you realize that it has a life of its own! I have learned to take a step back, adjust my perspective, lavish love and attention, and hopefully, it turns out way better than originally envisioned! I find that motherhood has also helped me streamline my priorities, and better my time-management skills.
SM: Where do you do your creative work?
SD: I currently work in a compact room with a desk and storage space for my supplies. Despite its small size, it is private and gets good natural light.
SM: Do you have a schedule for your creative work?
SD: Currently, it isn’t as easy for me to schedule set hours for my creative work, but I manage to steal a couple of hours each day to get to my space and work. While it is not easy to be creative whenever I’m available, I have trained myself to be productive in that time, even if it is just to organize my supplies or make a few handmade labels for packaging!
SM: What does creative success mean to you?
SD: To me, creative success is a two-part process; creating distinctive and original work and bringing life to my creative visions, and inspiring others in turn.
SM: What makes you feel successful as a mother?
SD: Raising my daughter in a way that allows her to become a person confident enough to follow her own dreams and goals makes me feel successful.
SM: What do you struggle with most?
SD: I have a difficult time convincing people that a creative career takes more effort and time than a conventional career. A home-based workspace means constantly dealing with outside demands on your time – that never happens when you are “at work” in the conventional sense. From the conception of an idea to giving it form and color, translating it into a piece that is original, taking pictures, posting it on social media, blogging about the process, following up on comments and queries, maybe pricing and selling, the mailing and follow-up… none of this can happen if there is no time to yourself to even derive inspiration and translate it into a workable idea! Not to mention the fact that being self-taught takes a lot of trial and error to get the necessary skills to turn creative ideas into reality.
SM: What inspires you?
SD: My biggest influences are the varied arts, especially the architecture and culture of Kerala and other states of India. I love exploring the folk arts of different countries, and of course the work of all the talented artists around the world.
SM: What do you want your life to look like in 10 years?
SD: I am not one to plan that far ahead, though I would love to have my own studio. I manage by taking it one day at a time and making sure that each step I take is a creative one!
SM: What are you reading right now?
SD: I just read The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith. I am a JK Rowling fan and was wondering how I would like her writing in another genre — I absolutely loved it!
SM: What are your top 5 favorite blogs/online resources?
SD: I use Pinterest extensively to pin those ideas and inspirations. Facebook puts me in touch with a lot of people with similar interests, and I have sold a few of my creations on my Facebook page. I use YouTube to check out the techniques of other artists and I have been regularly posting on Instagram for the past few months. I also use Bloglovin’ to follow my favorite blogs.
SM: What do you wish you’d known a decade ago?
SD: It would have been great to know that there are so many creative and talented people out there! A decade ago, knowing that there were so many creative forums and such great sources of inspiration, know-how, and like-minded people would have helped my skill sets and confidence levels to be better than they are now. Especially knowing a community like Studio Mothers, who manage their careers and home life just like I do, gives me a great sense of belonging.
SM: What advice would you offer to other artists/writers struggling to find the time and means to be more creative?
SD: If scheduling specific time for creativity is not possible, do not despair! Try to work towards your goals one day at a time. Slow and steady is good enough if you can see an improvement in the quality of your work. And good luck!!