This year is a benchmark for ARTEL.. ARTEL turned 25! It has been a long journey of joy and tears. ARTEL evolved over the years as it spread earthen love.
I wanted to do something creative that would in reality make a difference to society. And that is how ARTEL was born. ARTEL is a Russian word which literally means a group of artisans and designers. And that is what ARTEL is. I have been involved with ARTEL since I was a student. I started off with exhibitions with a group of friends. Our logo, the sun, represents our love for earth and the environment.
We initiated our purpose by engaging local artisans and training them according to modern trends. We recycled paper and sawdust and developed products that we would paint. The sawdust we recycled was as good as wood once the products were ready. Sadly, however, the recycling projects had to be ended as the laborious process would not pay off in terms of sales. We would seek sponsorships from multinationals to raise funds and put up exhibitions in 5 star hotels. The sponsors too were very accommodating and encouraging towards what they saw as a bunch of teens wanting to make a difference. There was no social media and we would print brochures and posters to advertise. The footfall was incredible as were the sales. We would use the revenue to reinvest in our next exhibition.
By 2000, my friends were all following their own professions. I took up ARTEL full time. My father, who was my biggest supporter, got me a studio. I wanted to continue ARTEL with a unique purpose. Looking around myself, lack of education in masses stood out pertinently. I started by engaging youth from the community with little or no education and training them. I not only train them and give them a skill but I try to groom them in the process. When I see the girls I have groomed over the years walk out of the ARTEL studio, with heads held high in self worth it gives me an indescribable pleasure. And that is story behind the tagline “Transforming Lives Through Art” came around.
From the studio, I moved on to to creating a space “The ARTEL Lounge”. This is where I could portray my dream space. A space which identifies with the ARTEL design philosophy.
ARTEL has a unique, signature design philosophy which has developed over the years. We studied the motifs used in civilisations, incorporating them with too create unique patterns. Initially, we witness with only earthy tones. The consistency took us to develop a signature ARTEL style where now an ARTEL piece can be identified by just looking at it. Some associate our designs as Native American, some as Mexican or African and some as Indo Pak. Our most popular products are our customised weather proof glazed tiles, our planters, and furniture. We create interiors with just adding our products and perhaps suggesting minor changes like a paint job that would enhance the impact. A customised tile inlay can transform the space. One of the tasks I cherish is when clients approach me to upcycle their very precious vintage family heirlooms. I incorporate my tiles, I polish the pieces, refurbish them. The result is a fantastic,fresh piece of art, crafted with love. The smiles and tears of gratitude on the clients’ faces make my joy immeasurable!
Multinationals approach ARTEL for their corporate give away needs. Clients love getting their gifts for occasions customised from us.
We are always working on bringing to our clients new designs and products. Our best inspiration comes from the clients’ demands which guides us in our product development. We also work around color trends. We participate in exhibitions, both local and international. Clients also customize and buy our products and exhibit them internationally. The ARTEL Lounge is an amalgamation of that philosophy. Coloured glass, white walls, padlock on the door. A midnight blue wall. Furniture inlaid with handpainted terracotta tiles. Hand crafted and painted pottery. It’s a realm of its own. Each design different yet unified. For me and my clients, the ARTEL Lounge offers art therapy by just experiencing it. The display of wall art including mirrors had been developed in a gallery style where the old products are continuously replaced by new, simultaneously changing the look of the The ARTEL Lounge.
Currently, I am also doing design interventions with our local artisans such as the camel skin lamp experts, blue pottery experts, Sindhi carved furniture to name a few.
The orthodox teaching methods of art in school led me to initiate art classes on my own the ARTELicious Art Camps. I have developed my art curriculum in a method where children actually apply art as a part of their lives. I introduce the young children to early civilisations, Pakistani renowned legendary artists. It is based on observation, inspiration and imagination. My methods of teaching are such on which the children are challenged to think then then sketch or sculpt. It’s not just about creating a pretty object or drawing but putting thoughts into the process as well. I help them experience various techniques and mediums. The process I take them through improves their concentration, focus and their observation, which are qualities that are essential in every aspect of life. I have regular Saturday Art classes as well throughout the year.
I am looking to expand teaching art to all ages at The ARTEL Lounge, the perfect space to inspire budding artists who might want to take up art as a profession or as a hobby.
There is a whole new product range that I have lined up and am working towards which is in accordance to the evolving client demands. ARTEL is developing new wall art, souvenirs for over seas Pakistanis to take back as gifts plus products which are both aesthetically appealing and have utility value, to name a few.