Artlab: Colouring conventional minds and striving forward

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Artlab: Colouring conventional minds and striving forward

Let’s go to the time when you were nine, a full-of-life kid with dreams. What did you want to become? A dancer? A writer? A painter? Now come back to ‘today’. What are you?

Most of us have ended up working 9-5 in front of the plain boring computer to fulfil someone else’s dreams. There are only a handful of people who follow their own dreams and make it their choice of career.

Kiran had the dream of turning his passion of painting into a reality, and so he did with Artlab.

Artlab is a team of creative artists in Nepal who have been creating and conveying art in the most accessible ways, such as unique street arts, products, and so on. It intends to bring awareness in a creative, positive and meaningful way to leave a strong imprint of art on people’s heart.


Sketching the Outline for Artlab

Kiran found his passion for paintings from his early childhood, painting persistently during his school years. He had a group of friends who shared the same fondness in art, and they would draw and paint every free time they got in a small studio they had rented. After his schooling years, he started teaching paintings to junior kids and earn to manage the rent and art materials.

After years of practicing and teaching going concurrently, he had a small collection of his most amazing drawings, which he thought he would sell. He dashed into several art galleries in Kathmandu to sell his drawings and paintings, but no one really showed much interest in his works.

However, that was not enough to extinguish the fire. He worked on it day and night, despite of being turned down several times. After joining Kathmandu University for his Bachelors in Arts, he grouped with two of his friends with very similar appetite for art and painting, and decided to turn their addiction into something viable through street arts. They started off with the walls around their own locality and other different places around Kathmandu valley. They would splash their creativity on public walls and private walls with prior permission from the authorities. Some people even raised their eyebrows and asked them what it was about and what the purpose of it was. “It’s neither for commercial use or any kind of political publicity, but solely to connect people with art and make public walls more pleasing,” Kiran would reply.

“When we started off, which was back in 2010, street art wasn’t a ‘big’ thing. Most people didn’t understand the concept of it. But we saw the potential and possibility of street art in Nepal, and thus we did it out of our interest,” says Kiran, “We wanted people to understand what street art is, that it is not a form of advertisement of political propaganda. So we pushed street art.”


Growing the ‘Green’ Paper

With the increasing interest of people in the concept of Artlab, they eventually forged ahead with screen painting on t-shirts and tote bags in order to earn, but mostly with a purpose of buying more paint materials. Along with the manufacture of unique line of products, they also started inaugurating wall paintings for private establishments such as restaurants, offices, and so on. They even conducted festivals, exhibitions and talk shows, through which they’ve been sustaining Artlab since 2010.  

The surging number of projects and artworks has helped it draw noticeable exposure, especially in terms of investments. CKU (Danish Centre for Culture and Development), a Danish art organization, showed interest in Artlab and invested in their venture. Many other clients they worked for loved the concept of Artlab and have invested on it.


Collaborating the Colours

As they carried out their passion, many people started showing interest in their work and in due course, they gathered a team of creative artists along the way.

“The process of building a team for us was very organic. We didn’t post any kind of ‘vacancies’ to add to our team. People who had the same zeal of art gelled in with Artlab, and we are only growing in terms of numbers.”

Kiran, and two of his friends, started off as three foundation pillars for Artlab, and the team now has grown to 10 visionary artists spilling their creativity and making Artlab possible.


Painting off the Challenges

Initially, the only problem Artlab faced was explaining people what Artlab is and what it focused on.  “Coming through the idea of startup in the field of art and paintings was and is still very vague. It was very difficult to explain, especially to my parents, that by choosing a career in art is not as bad as our society thinks it is. Choosing Arts as a major was a drastic change for me and convincing my parents was the most difficult part. I had to coerce my father to sign on my college admission papers,” says Kiran.

He adds, “Nevertheless, the time has changed, and more people are conscious about doing what they love as their career path. My parents are more convinced now and they support us and our idea.”

But they still face financial problems. Even though they are being bankrolled by Danish Art Association and other clients, there are many business matters they have to manage out of their personal savings. However, they have not let monetary problem be a hindrance between them and their aim. They are doing all that they can, be it by renting or making DIY materials to get things done.  


Artlab Today

In the course of past four to five years of Artlab, it has been successful to change the mentality of society about placing a career in the field of art. They have extended their works from creating products and services through the medium of art to conducting Art Talk Shows, Art Festivals and Exhibitions, Van Tours, and so on.

Kiran believes that their first project ‘Prasad’ in 2013(still running) was the first spark that led Artlab to where they are today. Prasad is an art project that is focused on addressing the mass migration in Nepal and discouraging brain-drain by creating street arts, murals, graffiti of local heroes such as Laxmi Prasad Devkota, Binod Shahi and many others as a source of inspiration. They carried out the project in various parts of the country, including Pokhara and Birgunj, and it helped Artlab expand nationally.



The Future Canvas

The prime idea of Artlab is to make art accessible to people, and so far, they have been successful with their objective. “Our main focus is that we don’t want people to go to art galleries to see art. We want people to see art on the streets, and that’s what we are doing. We want to make street and public walls more enjoyable to people. The political propagandas have formed this disconnection and negative impact on people about wall arts. We want to culminate street art and create a new positive idea on people’s minds.”

With Artlab, Kiran and his team have inspired a lot of youngsters to follow their dreams and live against the conventional path. Most of the artists, as mentioned by Kiran, are much conserved and lack self-confidence. “The belief of art not being a sustainable choice of career has suppressed so many potential artists who are probably in front of the same old computer of their office today, working for something that does not aspire them,” adds Kiran.


“Many people feel art is very sophisticated, but art can be fun and open to everyone. Most of the artworks are presented in the indoor galleries. Therefore, it is in limited space for limited people. We want to change all of it and take art beyond galleries to provide creative and positive solution.”


  • Guest
    Sanjay Tuesday, 08 November 2016

    I am very glad to work with artlab and to be a part of Prasad project.. Just be positive and never give up on your dreams...

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