Strokearts Studio: Aspiring Woman Entrepreneurs Award 2021/2022
Founder of Strokearts Studio Pte Ltd, Ms. Shivali Mathur
Strokearts Studio Pte Ltd established in 2014, by Ms Shivali Mathur and Ms Kumuda Krovvidi, as a destination for learning and appreciating visual art styles like drawing, sketching, and painting. They are Singapore based contemporary artists dedicated to creating an awareness and appreciation for the visual arts. They are the first Indian artists established in Singapore introducing Indian art.
Strokearts Studio’s vision is to provide quality visual art education for all age groups, and Indian art and folk arts is one of the unique art forms that they specialise in. They are also recognised for several successful art events in Singapore, one of them being the ‘President Charity Art Exhibition – 2015’ which was inaugurated by the then President of Singapore His Excellency Mr. Tony Tan. Their artwork was sold for a noble cause in addition to postage stamps and EzLink cards featuring the showcased paintings were also released on this occasion.
In recognition of their innovative practices and excellent business acuity, Strokearts Studio will be receiving the Singapore Prestige Class Award 2021/2022. For her entrepreneurial spirit and dedication to her craft, Ms Shivali will be awarded the Aspiring Woman Entrepreneurs Award 2021/2022.
Ms. Shivali shares with Vision Media.
Could you tell me about Strokearts Studio?
Strokearts Studio consists of four pillars, art classes, seminars and workshops, community events, and corporate events, with the primary focus being art classes. At present we have two studios, in Katong and Hougang.
Art has a unique language; there is a step-by-step process to learn the vernacular. Once you know the basics, you can create your own conversation. We teach our students how to use this medium as a language so that they can create their own composition and art piece using skilled techniques.
Every student is unique, and every student is an artist. Regardless of age, we have a program for you, and we teach you step-by-step. We have students who have been with us for seven to eight years. We have several who joined us as kindergarten students, but are in secondary school now. “Art is a journey, and you develop your own style along the way.” This is my philosophy.
There are two things that I believe in, the first being that art is all around us and an integral part of everyday life. For example, street posters, advertisements, TV, online gaming, everything incorporates some form of design. Art is an exclusive educational experience, and it is about creating and nurturing ideas and expressions. Art can help a child in motor skill development, visual learning, cultural awareness, and decision making. It also boosts a child’s confidence and improves their imagination and presentation skills.
Secondly, I believe that today’s job might not exist tomorrow, so creativity is imperative in the development of coming generations. We focus on the basics that can be applied to any field like fine art, architecture, and design (web, digital, etc). This is our philosophy and what we are truly passionate about. We want to provide our students with an opportunity to learn and contribute to the world through art freely, in a conducive environment.
What made you decide to start your own studio?
I grew up in India and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Arts and pursued my tertiary education in commercial arts from a polytechnic college. I worked for a few months with an advertising company. This was 20-22 years back when computers were not that advanced, all advertisements were created on paper with paints. After I got married and the work commute became difficult, my husband encouraged me to start teaching classes from home. It was a new experience, confusing at first, but I decided to pursue it. To my surprise, I received a fantastic response; within a week my classes were full. It boosted my confidence and I understood “I can teach art.”
In 2002 my family and I migrated to Singapore. I used my free time to create art and develop an art curriculum. There was a unique opportunity for me to start something here in Singapore. In 2005, I began teaching art from home. Alongside, which I secured several opportunities to collaborate with the Indian Tourism Board and the Temple of Fine Arts, and even started an Indian art curriculum for Singapore Management University (SMU) art club. In 2009 I joined Global Indian- International School Singapore as a co-curriculum art trainer till 2014
After teaching for a while, I realised that there was an appreciation for art classes and Indian art programs. I had many students from diverse backgrounds with a great interest in Indian Folk Art. I feel that the reason people are attracted to this style of art is that folk art is not a style that requires formal training and is easy to appreciate and apply.
I met Kumada at an Indian event where I was showcasing my artwork with The Temple of Fine Arts in 2009. After conducting a few workshops together, we decided to take things to the next phase and established the Strokearts Studio in 2014.
It is our experience, the interest of students, and passion to give back to the community through art that made us establish Strokearts Studio Pte Ltd.
Could you tell me more about the works you have done for the community?
We were one of the first art studios to bring Indian art and folk art to Singapore’s art scene. As an artist from India, we teach Indian Art to communities. In 2019, for Sengkang West Community Centre, we organised a 20-meter toran display. An Indian decorative item (toran) commonly used for festivals and weddings. We created the toran from recycled material with the help of
200 volunteers. This initiative made an entry in the Singapore book of records. It was a huge project that took us near 8 months to complete. But the satisfaction was in people from diverse backgrounds coming together and enjoying themselves as a community. It was a good skill-based learning project for them because they learned how to create art with recycled material.
We have conducted workshops in Esplanade, School of the Arts Singapore (STOA), Indian Heritage Centre, Singapore Zoo, Bird Park, Temasek polytechnic, along with various primary and secondary schools. Most of these workshops are one-day painting exercises for the students and citizens that come down to take part in them. We are involved with community projects and that gives us a lot of fulfilment. I would like to get more involved in community initiatives where I can connect with people more as a person and as an artist.
Could you tell me more about your international operations?
Covid-19 was not ideal for many art institutions. However, we were adaptable and took up the challenge of online teaching. It was tough trying to adapt to an online teaching style since art is a very hands-on subject. When the first circuit breaker was implemented, I was unsure about what to do. I was not convinced that art could be taught online and if there would be a demand for it. At this point a few students approached me; one of my students had moved to the United States, they called to request the start of online classes.
My students were the key drivers to pave the path for virtual classes. After experimenting with a few online classes, I realised that art can be taught online, so I crafted an exclusive curriculum for online classes. With an online class curriculum, moving to an all-online class format became smoother when the second circuit breaker hit.
The last two years have provided an opening to expand the business globally. This pandemic taught us to be resilient and adapt to the changes presented to us. Aside from the two studios, we have students across the globe in India, Canada, United States, and Malaysia. A lot of this is really thanks to the students who inspired me to pursue and expand our business avenues.