Meet Rekha Krishnamurthi
Rekha Krishnamurthi is a visual storyteller, and her art spans children’s books, products, branding and more. Be inspired as you discover the artist’s work, sources of inspiration and path to entrepreneurship. Plus, gain valuable advice for your own creative business.
Tell us about your work.
I’m a visual storyteller who creates art, illustration, animation and motion graphics. I use a variety of media and techniques—hand painting and digital—with the end goal of conveying the right visual story for children’s books, educational materials, products, branding, advertising, social media and more.
In my traditional art practice, I focus on printmaking, mixed media and fiber art. For my digital creations, I use a variety of software like Photoshop, Illustrator, Fresco, After Effects, and Procreate. Oftentimes, my process starts with creating a traditional art piece which I then use as inspiration to create a modified digital version. I enjoy pushing the creative boundaries, mixing styles, genres and techniques to produce unique art and design. I also teach art workshops and collaborate with organizations and nonprofits to bring art education and fun, creative experiences to their members.
How did you get started?
Art and crafting have always been something I’ve loved since childhood. A pivotal point in my life was when I was in high school, and my mother suggested that we attend a weekend silk painting workshop together. This was the beginning of a lifelong passion for art and design that I have pursued since.
At what point did you realize that you could turn your artwork into a business?
I opened an Etsy shop in 2011 and started selling my handmade products both online and at in-person markets. This was the beginning of my path to creative entrepreneurship. Fast forward to today, I’ve now shifted focus from primarily being a product-based business to offering design services focused on art, illustration, animation and motion design. While I still maintain my Etsy shop (and I also sell via my own website), I am in the process of retiring my existing product lines. Once my existing inventory sells out, I will not be making those items anymore. My new product line will feature one-of-a-kind original artwork and patterns and templates for art and crafts. More on this coming soon!
How do you define success for your creative business?
Success for me is going from a simple idea or concept and developing it into something tangible—this could be a piece of art, an illustration, an animation, or a product. There are so many steps involved in bringing an idea to life. Going through all the steps to make your idea real and tangible is success.
Where do you find inspiration?
I am inspired by my daily life, global travel and my South Asian (Indian) culture. You’ll always find me snapping photos with my iPhone, capturing key moments, colors and scenes that inspire me for new art, illustration, and animation ideas. My aesthetic leans towards blending whimsical designs with East-meets-West-inspired motifs.
What’s one piece of advice you wish someone had given you when you first started your business?
When you embark on a creative journey, there are many twists and turns. Pursuing your passion is never a straight line. My advice is to be resilient, roll with the punches and be willing to adapt to changes. Always be open to learning as technology and times change, and you want to be relevant. Most importantly, don’t give up!
What advice would you give to someone who wants to begin selling their art or creative product?
Test and explore. These days there are many platforms and ways to sell your art or product. You have to try it out and see what works best. There isn’t one cookie-cutter formula that can ensure success on any platform. Oftentimes you have to be on multiple platforms. I would also encourage having your own domain name and website. Don’t just rely on a third-party platform.
What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?
I originally wanted to be a fashion designer and launched a t-shirt line featuring my hand-drawn henna-inspired art. I used to sell my t-shirts on the weekends at the Soho designers’ market in New York City. I still have some of those samples in my closet!
As creatives, we can be continuously creating and refining our art. How do you handle perfectionism?
This is a tough one! For me, I set a time limit. I allow myself to adjust and tweak a design or piece of art for a certain amount of time—it could be a few hours or a couple of days, depending on the project I am working on. Once the time limit has been reached, then I put my supplies and tools away and call the project done.
What’s something that surprised you about running a creative business?
There is a lot of administrative work that needs to be done, which really cuts into your creative time. It is important to block out chunks of time to create vs. doing administrative work.
What advice would you give to someone about handling the highs and lows of running a business?
Be adaptable, be willing to change, and be willing to learn. Some of those low points may actually be the prompt you need to learn something new or do something in a different way, which could then lead to joys and highs. So always be paying attention, and be open.
Has someone ever criticized your work? How did you handle it?
When you are an artist or creative professional, you will always be subject to criticism. It is part of the industry. Not everyone has to like your style, and that’s okay. When my work is criticized, I always listen to the feedback because there might be a source of inspiration or new ideas that form based on that criticism. Take the good from that feedback and move past it. Don’t let it stop you from pursuing your passion.
What’s a cause you are passionate about and why?
I love what Guide Dogs for the Blind does: training dogs to provide a valuable service for the blind. You can learn more about this cause at www.guidedogs.com.
Can you share the name of a supplier or vendor that you use for your business that you just love—one that makes running a business a bit easier?
I use Adobe Creative Cloud (Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects) and drawing apps Adobe Fresco and Procreate for the digital art, illustrations and animations that I create. For traditional art supplies, I am a big fan of Blick Art.
What brings you joy?
Creating, drawing, painting, designing—soaking in inspiration from everyday life is what brings me joy and happiness.
Thanks, Rekha! You can learn more about the artist at divineny.com.
Editor’s Note: This interview was edited slightly for editorial style.