Over the past year and a half, many of us turned to several coping mechanisms to deal with the coronavirus pandemic that brought the world to its knees, including baking banana bread, whipping up some Dalgona coffee and some even went as far as getting a pet.
Surat city’s Jalak Desai also turned to her hobby of painting to cope with the pandemic, little did she anticipate that she would turn her childhood passion into a thriving profession and make money selling her art. Recalling her school days, Jalak reminisces, “I was known for my paintings in school and used to participate in all the competitions”
And although her heart was always with art, the 31-year-old decided to pursue a career in pharmacology as neither she nor her family was convinced she wouldn’t succeed, she shares, “Nobody gave it a second thought because art is perceived as an unstable career.”
In 2011, Jalak started working at a pharmaceutical company after completing her Masters in Pharmacology and was making around Rs 12,000 monthly. However, after working in the field for almost 4 years, Jalak took a hiatus of three years in 2015 when she was blessed with a baby.
Once her baby turned three years old, Jalak turned to the professional world again and started teaching as a guest lecturer of pharmacology in an Ayurvedic college in 2018, and continued till the coronavirus pandemic brought the world to a screeching halt in March 2020.
Beating lockdown blues with Art
With no job in hand, Jalak decided to take up her childhood hobby amid the lockdown to keep herself occupied and started to share the completed artworks to her social media profile. In no time, Jalak was flooded with compliments for her unique artworks from friends, family, and strangers alike. Everyone around her including her husband, family, and friends motivated the self-taught artist to pursue art full time and Jalak has not looked back.
Over a year ago, Jalak took the advice of her near and dear ones and started J D Creator’s Lane, a website that showcases Jalak’s works. The first artwork that was commissioned to Jalak was by an architect who paid Rs 15,000 for the customized piece. Since then, Jalak has sold over 40 paintings and managed to earn around Rs 3 lakh, which is a lot more than she ever made working in pharmacology.
Jalak’s artworks have been brought by celebrities including Gujarati film actor Prenal Oberai (who portrays Empress Charumitra in Chakravartin Ashoka Samrat) who bought paintings and bottle art. Jalak adds, “When I sent actor and comedian Hemang Dave a portrait of himself, he couldn’t stop praising me.”
Jalak, a mother and wife, dedicates at least four hours a day to her art and works with different mediums like canvas, bottles, and paints a range of subjects from abstract works to paintings of Shrinathji and Buddha, that hold a place close to her heart. She shares, “I don’t want to be an all-rounder, but I like to do all kinds of artwork because it gives different kinds of creativity. Resin art is currently trending the most and I have executed 30 Wall Clocks, 6 Wall Pieces, Coasters and many resin accessories.”
Jalak came from a time and family where conventional careers were the norm, and it was her own insecurity that held her back. She admits that the only reason she continued to pursue pharmacology despite being unhappy was simply that she had a degree in the subject. However, after much coercion from family and friends, Jalak turned to her passion once again.
She remorsefully admits, “When I see my paintings I realize I have wasted years of my life. If I would have started earlier, I would have achieved a lot,” quickly adding, “But, better late than never.”
Despite the late start, Jalak’s business is booming, and she and her husband have bought a new house to store her paintings as there was no space left in their current home. Jalak beams as she admits that people treat her differently now, sharing gleefully, “Now nobody thinks of me as a pharmacologist, they all refer to me as an artist. I’ve become really popular in my circle of friends and family.”
Having found her passion, Jalak wishes to inspire other women to do the same. She hopes to train women who have an interest in art and help them sell their artworks through her website and exhibitions. Jalak shares, “I want to make women financially independent. I don’t think it’s an issue to depend on your husband financially, but financial independence gives a different kind of freedom and confidence which every woman deserves.” Jalak hopes to someday own a gallery where she will showcase her artwork as well as that of other women.
This story is submitted by Bilal Khan and edited by Alfea Shaikh.
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