Presently working as Principal & Managing Director of Delhi Collage of Art (DCA), Ashwani Kumar Prithviwasi has more than two and a half decades of dedicated creative charisma. His presence and contribution to the fraternity has been strongly realized not locally in Delhi-NCR belt, but also in nationally and internationally. In an exclusive interaction with the Higher Education Digest, Ashwani Kumar talks about his journey as an artist and becoming the founder of DCA, which is on a mission to help such innumerable unrecognized artists, refine and sharpen their skills to perfection.
Why did you choose to pursue a career in art, specifically painting?
I followed my heart. Even though I was a Commerce student in school, I dreamt of becoming a painter and graduated in fine arts from the College of Art in 1996. I believe in the motto: Always follow your dream. If you do what you love to do, then success will surely be yours.
What’s the professional world of painting like? Is it possible for prospective painters to find a place where they can earn a living?
A career in painting is extremely competitive. Since they have to do their own marketing and promotion, it is important that they study both art and business or marketing to earn a living. Having a good relationship with gallery owners is an added advantage. So along with artistic skills, a good knowledge and marketing and social skills are required. Since attaining success is a slow process, it is also important for artists to initially take up mundane jobs in the art world to pay the household bills.
How was your experience as a student of fine arts been? Where did you complete your training?
As a student of fine arts, it was tough going for me because my father suffered a brain haemorrhage, which changed everything in my home. I had to start work to sustain my family. I taught art and sometimes worked very long hours. After completing my graduation, I opened a hobby centre called Rangshala. I completed my Masters from Jiwaji University, Gwalior in 2001.
Delhi Collage of Art (DCA) is an institute on a mission to help such innumerable unrecognised artists; refine and sharpen their skills to perfection. Tell us more about the establishment of DCA, its vision and mission.
Before 1992 most art students used to take home tuition. In 1992, I started a course named Ashu Rangshala, which included various courses catering to all age groups with flexible timings. I used to display the works of the students in street exhibitions, to create awareness about fine art and later expanded it on a larger scale. In 2001, I started a fine art institute called Delhi Collage of Art. It has five branches in Delhi NCR and of its 6,000 students many now run their own institute based on the same format. Today, DCA is the number one institute in Delhi NCR and across north India.
Which art fields are growing? How does DCA help its students to become experts in these fields?
Delhi Collage of Art (DCA) not only teaches you the art of painting but also helps you establish a career in applied art, sculpture, 2D-3D animation, graphic and web designing, art teaching and photography. DCA’s mission is to help such innumerable unrecognised artists refine and sharpen their skills to perfection. It provides extensive training in the least amount of time, with the use of most modern techniques and facilities. DCA has a classroom-cum-studio like atmosphere. Every year the student’s exhibitions are held at Delhi’s largest art gallery Lalit Kala Academy. DCA regularly engages students with workshops and guest lectures by top artists like Ram Sutar, Neeraj Goswami, photographer Ashok Kochar and many more. DCA also provides free art education to children of martyrs, people with disabilities and orphans. DCA is the only private institute that takes students on art tours across Europe – Paris, Italy, as well as China.
What are the biggest mistakes aspiring artists typically make and how can they avoid them?
They make the mistake of drawing inspired by great artists. Don’t forget that they have reached that level with hours of hard work and so must you. Don’t ignore their hard work and experience. Practice makes perfect so the more you practice the easier it is to get there. That’s why repetition is the key to learning.
In your opinion, what are the lesser known art career avenues that students should consider exploring?
Apart from the usual career of a painter, sculptor, etc students should also consider careers such as designer, art teacher, art critic, art curator, conservator, illustrator, tattoo artist, graphic designer, forensic services, textile and clothing designer, architect and interior decorator, mural artist, pottery artist, ceramic artist, and working in ad agencies, art studios, films, television and theatre.
What advice do you have for students considering pursuing a career in art?
A painting is a degree by itself and its intricate details, the mark sheet. An artist is judged by studying these intricate details. A lot of artists have achieved success solely based on their talent and not by the degree they hold. The guidance of a good teacher is worth more than 100 universities. So, students must remember that talent is natural, but a good institute and teachers help to hone that talent.