Creativity Unblocked: Shruti Bhoyar

For most people, lockdowns have thrown many challenges our way. Staying motivated and inspired has been tricky for many of us. This week Jasmine catches up with artist, maker and muralist Shruti Bhoyar of Mantra Murals, who gives an insight into balancing creativity, work, and everyday life as a creative in lockdown, and the power of not giving up.

 Hey Shruti! Please tell us a little about who you are, and your creative practise.

Becoming a creative was an easy choice for me as everyone in my family is artistically inclined. I have a Bachelors in Fine Arts (Commercial arts) and Advanced Digital Design. I came to Bristol from Mumbai in 2008 and immediately loved the Brits with all their charm, acceptance, quirks and kindness. In 2013 I painted dandelions on a feature wall of a friends new salon in Clifton and that is how I started to get approached for mural work. Murals became my passion. Like most artists I am driven by an innate, compulsive desire to create. I get a huge amount of satisfaction from making things. In the last few years however, between work, looking after two young boys, and just everyday things, I found it hard to stay motivated and my passion for making art was completely lost. It’s only since last year after my littlest started school and after I quit my day job that I have been able to completely immerse myself in art. I’ve always felt the need to create and to get inspired but now once again I can truly put creativity at the very centre of my life.

 

What inspired you to work in your field, and the main things you draw inspiration from?

I am inspired by nature, colour and life. I have always been intrigued by the play of light. I’m always trying to capture little moments which are constantly calling my attention, such as seasonal changes in nature, the shape a body makes or how my sons eyes sparkle in the sunlight. I love the female form. I think diversity is beautiful and powerful and we need to celebrate the many different shapes and sizes that our bodies represent. I get very inspired by people’s journeys and stories. I think about art all of my waking hours. I love to work in a multitude of styles so theres always something super exciting waiting to happen tomorrow. I do believe practising more disciplines help you better understand the core mechanics of them and a proper understanding of the fundamentals of the discipline is vital. Be it a water colour or a cross-hatch portrait, a typographical illustration or a digital design composition, a botanical drawing or a thumb-sketch for a mural, theres always something new to explore everyday. If you love doing what you do you will jump out of bed every morning wishing there were more hours in every day.

When you hit a creative block, how do you push through?

In lockdown we’ve all had to combat creative block at one point or another. I felt the lack of motivation and a sense of creative fatigue all the time! My ideas just seemed to have run out. I’d say don’t be too hard on yourself when you feel stuck and cant get any new ideas. I just take a break from it. Watch a silly movie like ‘the minions’ with my boys, sillier the better! Just leave it for a bit. Then come back and look at the piece with fresh eyes, maybe even start over. Otherwise I mix things up a bit and try something new, that can help you let go of your artistic inhibitions. Even if you don’t hit gold, the very process of experimenting will help free up your mind, to better see which of your creative skills need improving.

 

How have you kept yourself inspired during the lockdowns? Have you found any challenges?
For a parent whose days were taken up with homeschooling, the standstill meant a break from art. There was a void forming between me and my sketch book which seemed to be getting bigger. Being locked in my house for such a long period was both physically and mentally draining.  If you are a freelancer, self-isolation can make you feel lonely whether you are an introvert or an extrovert. Each night I would excitedly set a small goal or task for myself for the next day but between homeschooling and planning activities for the boys, I never managed to reach that goal. But we did do a lot of drawing and colouring together, at my home we always bond over art. It’s interesting how much we have turned to art activities during the lockdown. I think, in the lockdown more than any other time we have come to realise how art can be used as a valuable form of communication and expression.

I cant stress this enough though, remember to take care of yourself, especially if you are a freelancer.

Do you have any tips, advice, or words of wisdom for people starting out in the industry?

Never stop learning. Always try to improve and evolve. After all these years in the field and theres so much I still have to learn, and so much I don’t even know I don’t know yet. The road is very long and it takes a lifetime to develop your craft but remember that you have a unique voice and perspective that will make your art special. Don’t take for granted what skill you have but also be open to criticism. Competition is fierce and the number of declines is greater, but we cant get knocked down by that. Perhaps the most important is the ability to keep going in the face of declines or people not responding to or liking your work. Just please don’t give up. Just try harder- that’s what i do anyway 😉 Also, network. I’ve only realised recently that everyone needs a tribe for support. Go to meet-ups, hit people up on social media, meet local artists. Making connections is probably the most important part of finding an audience, hearing about opportunities and forming collaborations that could be useful.

 

What do you want to see for Weston’s creative scene in the next 5 years?

This is a dynamic time for artists and for the creative scene in WSM. I’m fairly new to the WSM creative scene but there’s definitely a strong sense of community and lot of emerging artists here. I feel a vibrant art scene is one where artists are influencing one another and spurring each other to push their boundaries. Since last year I have started to notice, that thanks to the immense efforts put in by Weston Artspace, Theatre Orchard and Culture Weston, numerous artists and creatives from different disciplines are emerging in response to what will hopefully be an abundance of work. Also the community is becoming more receptive to the power of creativity and art.

In the next 5 years I hope WSM will have a large pool of opportunities to offer to creatives in terms of work and inspiration and the exposure I hope will be huge and easily accessible. Also a scope for collaboration in multi-disciplinary arenas is essential in my opinion. It’s crazy, but it’s an exciting place to be right now.

 

You can follow Shruti on Instagram at @MantraMuralsandDesign

Are you an artist in Weston?

That includes filmmaking, dance, theatre, music, all things creative. Because I’d love to hear from you, and how you’ve been keeping the creative juices flowing during lockdown. Just tell me a little bit about yourself, and send any links to your work if you have them. Reach me at Jasmine@cultureweston.org.uk

You can also share what creative endeavours you’ve been up to on social media, using the hashtag #CreativityUnblocked

You can read more from the Creativity Unblocked series here.