INKQUISTIVE ON THE RELEASE OF HIS DEBUT CHILDREN’S BOOK AND DECADE-LONG JOURNEY
by ASJAD NAZIR
ONE of the UK’s most talented artists just celebrated 10 years of creating marvellous masterpieces.
Known professionally as Inkquisitive, Amandeep Singh decided to mark the occasion by releasing his debut book The Ink Tales: Bedtime Stories For The End Of The World. He has collaborated with publishing house Bonnier, Apple and six authors to bring classic tales alive in a contemporary way. The acclaimed artist has realised a life-long dream to illustrate the book, which has stories of hope.
This is the latest chapter for a British talent who has made an impressive mark with works of art that have captured moments in time, shown dazzling creativity and enthralled those who have seen them, including huge international celebrities. Having done everything from spiritual work to limited edition prints, giant murals and bespoke original pieces for stars, Inkquistive has become an important artistic brand.
Eastern Eye caught up with London based Amandeep Singh to speak about his artistic journey, eye-catching work, inspirations and future hopes.
What first connected you to art?
I was first drawn into the world of art, (laughs) no pun intended, through my dad, who worked for the High Commission of India. He used to do calligraphy for the royal family and politicians, including the prime minister. Watching him from a young age made me want to do the same. I fell in love with the idea of ink, paper and being able to create something.
How do you look back on this decade-long journey as an artist?
It’s unreal to see what has happened from a simple upload on Facebook. It’s really overwhelming how everything has taken shape and how the artwork has got to where it is. There was never a goal to have the artwork go global as it did, so all this is a rare gift for me, 10 years on. From exhibitions to fans, accolades and awards – when you set yourself up to do it for the passion, everything else arrives as a bonus and for that reason it is unexpected, but I’m forever grateful for it.
What has been the highlight?
There have been many highlights, so it wouldn’t be fair to single out one. A few that come to mind are my first exhibition in Toronto in 2012. I hadn’t a clue if it would be a way for people to connect with my message or if they would turn up! They did and I couldn’t believe it. Working with the likes of Apple has been amazing and to be having my work recognised by hip hop/rap icons such as J Cole and Drake will always be unreal.
Which among your works is closest to your heart?
I would say King Without A Crown holds great value as it was one of the first pieces I did, which was based on my Sikh faith, but in a way never done before. It was a moment of courage, but one that also required lots of self-talks. I’m glad I released it in 2014. That artwork ended up being one of my most purchased and recognised. Having said that, all my artworks have a story of value for me.
Which of your celebrity collaborations meant most to you?
I am a huge fan of J Cole so when he tweeted me on my artwork on the same day as his Forest Hills Drive album, I was blown away. Moments like that helped me energise and continue doing what I love most. Another moment was seeing my childhood crush Madhuri Dixit with my artwork. I still crush on her!
Where do you draw your creative inspirations from?
I create when I’m triggered by something It could be a religious story, political stand or lyrics from a song, which hold value. Whatever gets my heartbeat going faster is like a catalyst to create. I’m a very emotional artist so don’t shy away from putting my views and feelings across in my work. Nothing good comes out of doing things half-heartedly, so I love being able to express myself to the maximum when moments arise.
How do you feel when your work strikes a strong chord with people?
It’s always exciting when there is a reaction towards my artwork. I live for reactions and there’s no greater joy than to have someone see my work and give me their views. I love knowing society can find a connection with my work and feel really exciting art has the ability to do that. I remember a Christian gentlemen from my New York tour purchasing my Guru Nanak artwork, not knowing it was the first Guru, but because the illustration reminded him of his grandad. That was a beautiful moment and shows the power art holds.
Have any of your art works exceeded your expectations?
I’m always surprised at my own work and how it can take shape from a simple line on a plain piece of paper. But I try not to question my ability too much as I can get easily overwhelmed. Since I have been venturing into murals, I was blown away when I painted the huge building in Oslo titled Vippa. That was a month-long project standing in the wind, rain and thunder on a crane. It was all worth it and I still can’t believe I painted that.
Tell us more about the spiritual art that you do?
I’m a spiritual person and love learning about others’ spiritual journeys. I feel there’s always space to learn and be educated, which is why I’m always creating artwork that reflects all aspects of spirituality, religion and tradition. I think there’s no greater joy than to celebrate our differences.
Is it difficult to let go of work when someone buys it?
It is always hard seeing my artwork going to a new home. Not so much my canvas prints as they are there for the world to enjoy. But quite often I will release a limited edition piece, which holds its value in only five being produced. I’m so close to my artwork and spending so much time creating it, nurturing it by polishing it daily and living with it, so when the time comes to say goodbye, it is like saying goodbye to a child. It’s a feeling I don’t think I’ll ever shake off. There have been times when I haven’t sold some of my originals no matter the price offered to me, as I couldn’t find the strength to part with that specific piece.
What can we expect from you in the decade ahead?
I don’t know what to expect in the next decade, simply because I never planned any of what has happened in the last decade. I feel if I start putting expectations ahead of me, they may not come true. So the best way for me to lead my career is with the flow of inks. Having said that, yes, of course it will be creating more magic and telling more stories.
How much has doing your art helped you emotionally?
Art has been my escape to share my emotions. Without it I could still talk, but with the infusion of colours and story there’s more to see within me. Art is my home and escape. No matter how I feel, it always makes me feel whole, and I would not be anywhere without being able to express myself. A simple line can feel like a breath of fresh air and a stroke of a brush can give me answers I need. Art helps the heARTbeat.
You have become a hero, but who is your artistic hero?
Yikes, there’s still a long way to go till I can call myself a hero, but mine would be my dad. I want to be exactly like him. He’s my biggest inspiration and will forever be grateful to him for introducing me to art. My mum, who sadly passed away in December, will always be my heart. My parents will always be my right and left hand.
Why is art important?
Art is important because when our time comes to leave our body, art will be the only thing that prevails. For that reason, we should maintain the art of enjoying art. Appreciating it and letting artists know that they matter!