In Conversation with: Debasmita, an Indian Illustration Artist and the face behind My Father illustrations and Doodle with Dad (DwD)


“I am an artist who creates art to inspire people to be good and do better”

-Debasmita, describing herself as an artist

Debasmita is an artist from India living in Singapore. She is the face behind My Father illustrations and Doodle with Dad (DwD). For her, ART is like meditation. Concentrating on lines, strokes and colors bring her the ultimate peace. She has been making illustrations since her parents introduced her to pen and paper. ART is her raison d'être.

She is an artist with a goal; a goal to inspire people and spread positivity with her illustrations.

She believes that every positive story has the potential to create many more positive stories.

Debasmita is describing her journey as an artist and the beautiful ART she is living with:

Who is Debasmita?

“I am a self-taught artist. I love following other artists’ work. I learn a lot from them.”

How did you initiate your Illustrations?

Creating illustrations was always a passion. In 2010 when my first children's book was published by KATHA, I realized that this passion could also be my profession.

Image by: Debasmita

How did you grow this art?

It is a continuous journey of self-discoveries. With every art that I create, I evolve as an artist.

In the world of technology and advancement, what technology/gadget/platform do you use to pursue it?

All my illustrations are hand-drawn. Even in this age of high-tech digital devices I am still most comfortable with pen and paper. However I color my illustrations digitally. My MacBook is my best pal.

What does inspire you to chase it?

Art in its multitude inspires me. Whether it is an artwork by another artist, a film, poetry, music or a dance performance. I draw my inspiration from all of them.

Who is your biggest critic?

My husband. He is an independent filmmaker and also one of the biggest fans of my artwork.

Which is the best complement you have got till now?

My first exhibition in Rome (6-9 Nov 2014) organized by Fondazione Roma, IULM, CIVITA Arte supported by UNESCO. I was one the 15 international women artists that the organizers showcased through this exhibition.

Which is your biggest strength?

I am very disciplined when it comes to my work.

Is there any weakness?

My art has many rooms for improvement and I am working on it.

Which is the best piece of advice you have ever got?

“Don’t let success invade your head and failures conquer your heart”.

Talking about the turning point:

My introduction to art was an organic process. There was no dramatic turning point smiley

She has the coolest answer on the Mistakes!

“Mistakes are part of your life. Every mistake has taught me something. So I don’t regret making any mistake.”

What does keep you connected to your ART?

ART is my raison d'être.

Have you faced any difficulty to reach here? 

Many! Behind every good initiative there is a lot of hard work. Such experiences make your art more meaningful.

Tell us something about your other activities, which you are interested in.

Photography and Films – experimenting with my camera and watching films from across the globe.

Do you believe that ART and LUCK are parallel to each other? 

No. I believe passion and practice are the lifelines of ART. And if you continue to have them then LUCK will always favor you.

ABOUT PROJECT AND WORK

Tell us about the project: My Father Illustrations. What is the idea and reason behind this project?

Do you make theme based or story based projects?

Started in 2013, ‘My Father illustrations’ is all about sharing the positive father–daughter stories with the rest of the world. Through this project, I want to encourage fathers to fight for the rights of their daughters. Every story is special and needs to be told. I look for ordinary people with stories to tell because celebrity stories are still available for people to find, but these ordinary stories are mostly “unheard”. Till date I have shared over 150 stories from 37 countries through “My Father illustrationsFacebook page.

Image by: Debasmita

In many countries, girls are vulnerable due to lack of education, economic disempowerment and gender bias. Issues such as female foeticide, child marriage, verbal or physical abuse and sexual exploitation are common. The challenges however, are not limited to marginalized communities. The ever-shrinking number of women in corporate boardrooms and nation’s top governing positions is an indication of how little we have progressed when affording basic rights to our young girls. That is where the root of the evil lies. Oftentimes, patriarchy is blamed and punishments are meted out to men violating girls’ rights. These men are systematically excluded from the dialogues and interventions addressing these problems. Unfortunately such exclusion only worsens the problem.

Therefore, I see the urgent need to bring men to the forefront of dialogue. By bringing the positive stories of men - being the agent of success in the lives of their daughters – to the forefront, I am breaking the chain of hatred and blame. My stand is positive since the world needs positive stories to bring down the negative bias. My illustrations are based on true stories. Every story portrays how a father protects the rights of his daughter and inspires her to become a good person and do better for everyone. The common thread for my illustrations is love, strength and mutual admiration.

Talking about My Father Illustrations, how much can it be related to Debasmita?

You would know me through My Father illustrations.

Tell us about your other projects.

After receiving some considerable positive response on My Father illustrations initiative through social media, I decided to expand the scope of my work by directly reaching out to stories on ground. So I stepped out of the orbit of the Internet and started “Doodle with Dad (DwD)” in 2015. By DwD, I go to the communities and bring together fathers and daughters to share and illustrate their stories. Sometimes they share a specific experience and sometimes a piece of advice. I urge them to use art as a means to express these ideas. In August 2015, I facilitated the first two DwD camps pairing up with India-based non-profits, Magic Bus and Leher.

Image by: Debasmita

At first, I wasn’t sure how the communities would respond. But I was amazed when these fathers, who did not come from very privileged backgrounds, had so much ambition, respect and emotional understanding towards their daughters. They wanted their daughters to find the best education and find happiness by serving their communities and lead by example for many younger girls in the community.

ABOUT HER FUTURE PLANS

I want to reach out to every ‘unheard’ father-daughter story that has the power to move the world. I will continue to partner with individuals and organizations to maximize my reach and inspire millions with people’s stories and my art.

“My Father illustrations” will continue to expand to newer, unexplored parts of India and rest of the world. My goal is to achieve 500 illustrations in next two years, reaching out to many more individuals and communities. I see more travels in the future to find stories and meet people who can contribute stories to the project. I see “Doodle with Dad” playing a crucial role in reaching these milestones. I have plans to take it to remotest corners of India and I am keen on partnerships with organizations and individuals to make this happen.

We, the C4N India team congratulates you for the initiatives and thank you for spreading awareness in such a uniques way. All the best for your future projects. Keep shining always.

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