It takes more than a steady hand to create the delicate and intricate artwork that Parth Kothekar does with such skill
Tell us about your formative years in design.
I was born and raised in Ahmedabad. After school I wanted to pursue design and joined Maya Academy of Advanced Cinematics for a Diploma in Animation. However, they stressed only on 3D animation studies while it was 2D art forms that interested me. During this time, I filled up my sketchbooks with drawings. I decided to quit the animation institute and began sketching full time.
How were you drawn to paper cutting?
It all started with an experiment four years ago. I was looking for ways to showcase my art on a big scale and started practicing graffiti. I began to experiment with stencils, and was introduced to paper cutting. One day I pictured the stencils to be inverted – I followed the idea and was fascinated by my own work. Initially, paper cutting was a hobby; once I had enough artworks on hand I displayed 84 paper cuts at an exhibition in Kanoria Center of Arts in Ahmedabad.
What does it take to learn the art of paper cutting?
It takes a steady hand to create paper cuts – cutting stencils helped me with that. It took me six months to study what to make and which paper to use, and technical know-how like how to hold the paper or which blade to use. You have to perceive an image in black and white light and shadow form, and understand what to cut away as negative space and what to retain to form a simple stencil. Once you know what to cut, you have to learn to use the cutting knife precisely. It’s a good idea to cut simple forms first and then gradually increase the complexity. You can learn by watching online tutorials and through constant practice.
I use an NT cutter knife, cutting mat, 120 gsm sketching paper, and a 0.5 lead pencil. I start with sketching. Once the sketch is done I simplify it to retain the necessary details, taking care that the sketching lines do not overlap. I do 20-25 sketches and choose 8-10 artworks to convert into paper cuts.
What inspires you?
My inspiration comes from my personal life. If something catches my attention I work on the idea and try to develop it into a series.
Which have been your most memorable projects?
All artworks that are challenging to me are memorable! However, one of the most interesting projects was the layered paper cut I made for Tanishq (Zoya) for their jewelry display and visual merchandising – it had a 3D effect. Another memorable project was the dome shape structures using paper cut that I designed for an event design company based in Dubai.
What has been your experience with exhibiting your work?
I had my first solo exhibition in Ahmedabad in 2013. The response was overwhelming – since it was a new art form, I got many compliments and was featured in local newspapers. After that, I started traveling in India to see where my artworks got the best response. I have exhibited in Bombay, Delhi, Varanasi, Hyderabad, Chennai, and Bangalore.
I also got an opportunity to exhibit my work in New Zealand and that was an eye-opening experience! People were familiar with the art form and appreciated not only the cutting technique and the intricacies of my work, but also the art forms and themes. Expression was the prime focus here rather than medium. In India, people are not very familiar with paper cutting and are more impressed with technique.
What are the challenges you have faced so far?
Since this art form was new to India I had to travel quite a bit initially to showcase my art. I ended up pawning my bike six times and even had to sell my phone! I was in debt because while people appreciated the artwork, no one was buying it! After a year, I started working on paper cutting full time and now I am able to sell my work. I don’t think about the commercial side much – I am more focused on creating new artworks. However, I have an Etsy store where I sell my artworks and get custom orders.
How do you think social media influences art and design?
It has a very positive influence! Social media allows me to get an audience from all over the world.
I don’t know. I am challenging myself with new series all the time and experimenting with many new materials. I am also excited and waiting to see what next!
This article was originally published in POOL 104.
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