I am Mona Biswarupa Mohanty. An introvert, small town girl who dares to dream. My dream has taken me out of my comfort zone many times. But still I dream . My dream is finding the state of true happiness and spreading that happiness to million others through my creative expressions. Be it on paper, canvas, fabric or any other medium.
By training I am a fashion designer from IED, Milan and NIFT, New Delhi. I left my 20 year old fashion career in the middle of my life to start my career allover again from square one.. and this time , as an artist.
Q – Was it always your dream to become an artist, if not how did you make the choice?
The earliest memories of my childhood are the memories of me painting with my father’s ink and my mothers Aaaltaa. Whenever I had time, I painted, scribbled, drew. It didn’t matter what was the medium. Charcoal scribbled on the floor, brick pieces on the wall, smashing fallen flowers and leaves and painting with their color and even etching with iron nails onto wooden fixtures, mostly the back side of few doors which elders hardly noticed 🙂
I dreamt of having a profession that is my passion. And I am lucky to have parents who supported my decisions every step of my life. Despite fairing well in academics when I decided to leave my general education halfway and join fashion design, they didn’t object even once. I always dreamt of having a profession that lets me draw and paint. Fashion design provided me with exactly the same opportunity. I have worked with many big brands in India as well as outside India. Life was flowing like a placid river.. But slowly with the introduction of digitization in design (No hard feelings here. I love Photoshop and Illustrator as much as you do 🙂 ) , I started missing the human touch in my work. I missed playing with the paint and brush that I did early in my career. That’s when I realized probably it is time to bid a farewell to the stylus and get back to my paint brushes . On 14th Feb 2016 I left my job to start my new career as an artist. Though I have left behind my fulltime job as a fashion designer, I still continue to work as a fashion illustrator, educator and textile artist.
Q – who or what was your inspiration?
My father , Sangram Keshari Mohanty, who is a renowned poet and lyricist in Odisha has been my constant source of inspiration. As a kid I wanted to be a poet, just like him. But probably I was too young to write. So instead of alphabets, I chose lines and dots to express the poetry that flew in my heart. I have got motivation from my mother. She is an extremely soft but rock solid persona. She taught me the art of faith, belief and never giving up. My strong motivators are my sisters, my husband, my in-laws, my Guru Shyam Prasad Pattanaik, my family and many of my friends and mentors. I possibly can’t mention all their names.. but I am sure when they read it they would know. I thank them all, from the bottom of my heart. They constantly inspire me, support me, challenge me and in the process polish me. I have an eight-year-old boy who is my biggest fan and the toughest critic. At times I am amazed and totally taken aback by his observation and comments on my work.
Q – Please tell us about your milestone journey, especially the difficulty you faced?
When I look back, I see a beautiful road that I have covered. Every time my family’s eyes gleamed with pride and every time a stranger commented on how much joy my work has given them, they are my milestones. Awards and recognitions are not something I desire to chase. My endeavor is to touch as many lives as I can and giving them few moments of true happiness and joy through my work. When my art is appreciated and people welcome them to their homes and make them a part of their everyday, those moments are not only my milestones, but are as precious as gemstones to me.
Talking about struggles and difficulties, yes. The most difficult call for me was to let go off my Fashion career in the middle of my life and start allover again as an artist. Every day is full of challenges as well as opportunities. I remember one quote from one of my mentors – “You can never take out your car from the garage if you wait for all the lights in the city to turn green”.
There would be challenges and struggles which would make you grow stronger and better. I have faced many failures and numerous rejections.. But I always look at them with a smile. It is the failures and struggles that would make my success story more interesting. So I believe in marching ahead and welcoming struggles and challenges with open arms.
Q – As an artist, what is your favorite subject of illustration (model or form etc)
Nature, within and outside is what has been my inspiration and subject. I see nature as a woman as well as I see nature within a woman. Depicting her emotions has been my eternal quest.
I have grown up in a little town in Odisha, which is culturally extremely rich with a huge influence of tribal culture on it . . Those influences have become a part of my art. My choice of color swings between two extremes. At times it is a Zen like approach with simple black and white and yet another time it is a potpourri of thousand rainbows. My art has never been a thoughtful endeavor .. Most of the time I only trace the forms that I see on a blank canvas.
Q – What was the best and the worst advice you received when you started your career?
The only advice my father always gave me is, ‘if something is worth doing, it is worth doing well’. All my life, that is what I have tried to do and that is what I aspire to do for the rest of my life. Doing something right has always given me the joy and satisfaction. I have been lucky to not have received any negative advises from anyone or probably they gave me and thankfully I never acted on them 🙂 .
Q – At this point in your career, are you happy ?
As an artist my career has just begun. I have no idea where the road will lead me to. But I am extremely happy with the path that I have chosen and it is a beautiful journey. I have a long way to travel and a lot to learn and more than anything else, I have a lot to paint. Each stroke that I have painted are the moments I have truly lived. Whenever I sketch or paint, I derive a strange sense of happiness, which is quite meditative. And many a times when viewers have come back to me expressing the same, I get really thrilled. Being happy is a great feeling.. but creating happiness is euphoric!
Q – If someone read your story and wanted to follow your footsteps being inspired by it, what advice would you give them?
We all have different goals and different paths in life.. If you can follow something, follow you heart and your passion. My only advice would be that many people would point out many of your negatives( lets admit, we all have negatives ) , not with a wrong intention, but with the intention of improving you.. Listen to them, but don’t follow every bit of it. Life is too short to work on our weaknesses.. find that one strength and work on it.. and yes, if any of your weakness is coming on the way of your strength, slay it !!!
Q – Do you believe in dreams?
I am a dreamer. Not only I believe in dreams, but also I live in my dreams .
Dreams are desires and visions with wings. You cant fly before your dreams are airborne..