From pursuing her Masters in Nanotechnology to finding her true calling in art, Divya Negi’s life has had a pretty interesting trajectory. With the launch of her Instagram page, The Paper Muse, she started creating and sharing original art.
Nature is an important theme in her work, and she also likes to explore female form, cosmos, and fragility. Apart from following her passion for art, she is currently working as a content writer in a UI/UX studio in Bangalore. We spoke to Divya about her work and inspirations.
What was the moment when you realized you wanted to be in the visual arts space?
Honestly, I never had that one particular moment when I knew making art is what I want to do. It’s been a series of moments that made me trust my art enough to put it out into the world. I have always been drawing things ever since I can remember, but I kept it as a hobby and forgot about it when I started college. But art came back to me after office hours when I started doodling to cope up with the dissatisfaction and stress that came with mundane jobs. With time, I got better at digital art, and started drawing smoother lines and getting good feedback from people. And one random day, I wrote to Art&Found just out of curiosity and then started thinking about art beyond my sketchbook.
So yes, it’s been a very slow and gradual realization for me.
What have been some of the biggest highlights of your career so far?
I really got into art in 2017. I started an Instagram profile (@thepapermuse) in March with the sole aim of making original content, as I only copied artworks before The Paper Muse. And in October, I took the Inktober challenge that creative people from all over the world participate in to draw every day of the month. It almost drove me crazy but this was the time when I came up with my organic black and white lines which I heavily work with now.
The biggest risk I ever took was not going for a PhD after I completed my Masters and choosing to work on my art. After college, I had joined a random job thinking I could keep hunting for a doctorate position during nights and work during the day to support myself. Instead, I spent my nights doodling and learning Adobe Illustrator which completely upturned my PhD plan. So I decided to change directions, and it was a hard decision. I struggled with it for a long time but art kept me sane. It still does.
What are some of the important themes in your work? Most of my line work is themed around nature, but I also like to explore female form, cosmos, and fragility in some of my illustrations. And I always make them in black because it just seems right to me. Also, I have a thing for black.
However, I do make colored illustrations and post them on my Instagram profile, which I have to say is very random. This is another reason why I’ve kept my colored work out of Art&Found because I wanted to make a cohesive collection only using black.
How do you create a balance between personal and commercial work?
Art’s always been personal to me and a few commercial projects I have done (since I am fairly new to the art scene) are the ones I could relate to. I maintain a non-art job, even though I had the chance to take up a full-time design job, mainly because I don’t know if I can make art according to someone else.
The biggest risk I ever took was not going for a PhD after I completed my Masters and choosing to work on my art.
Could you talk about one particular artwork of yours featured on Art&Found and tell us about its inspiration and making?
I am particularly fond of the Entropy series. I chose the word ‘entropy’ because it pretty much sums up my art, inspirations, and thoughts. And this series was created when I started to experiment with lines and went wherever they took me.
This piece here is inspired by the movement of a colored drop in water – how the drop breaks the surface and the pigment spreads in water. When I do my line work, I feel this sense of calm and clarity. And I sync my breathing with the flow of the line so that I get a smooth stroke. If this isn’t meditation, I don’t know what is.
Who are the artists around the world that you really admire?
There are many, but mainly Picasso, Frida Kahlo, and Salvador Dali because their minds fascinate me. I also follow a lot of illustrators and am inspired by the unbelievable line work of Jelena Ristic and Giuliano Martinuzzo and beautiful illustrations by Mark Conlan and Gosia Herba.
What are you currently working on?
Currently, I am procrastinating a lot, with the move to a new city and a new job. But I am in the middle of a new series where I am incorporating shapes into my line work.
Words by Payal Khandelwal