(June 28, 2023) When Bala received an offer to create art pieces for two of the recently opened Haldiram’s outlets in Hyderabad it was a pleasant surprise for the artist. She embarked on her creative journey to showcase Indian heritage through her unique Russian Sculpting Painting – a lesser–known art form in which she has garnered immense expertise. Despite the tight deadline, Bala’s dedication resulted in captivating artworks. Bala remarks in an interview with Global Indian, “Interest towards Russian Sculpting Art is a very recent trend. Not many are aware of it.”
A fusion of painting and sculpture, mastering Russian Sculpture Painting presents a steep learning curve initially, but once people master it, they unleash magic on their canvas. Bala who is not just an artist but also an art educator, has guided over 2,000 learners from India and abroad to create their own enchanting artworks. One of India’s biggest retailer for art and craft supplies, Itsy Bitsy has also commissioned Bala as one of its brand ambassadors.
Bala finds happiness and satisfaction in her swift success within just two years of venturing into Russian Sculpting Art. As an early adopter of Instagram’s reels feature, she witnessed her creations amassing impressive views, with some reaching as high as 18 million impressions.
Inspired by this organic growth, Bala recognized the potential of social media in expanding her business. She emphasises the importance of monetizing one’s followers. Her influence has transcended national borders, and she has been able to connect with individuals from diverse backgrounds, including the US, UK, Russia, and the Middle East.
Managing rapid growth
Within a short period, Bala’s Instagram account experienced an exponential surge in followers, reaching 100K purely organically. She recalls being unprepared for the overwhelming traffic, as her follower count increased by 1,000 every second. “I didn’t know how to handle it,” she smiles. Acknowledging her remarkable growth, Meta, the company behind Instagram, invited her as one of the few influencers from Tamil Nadu to a conference in Chennai, attended by people from across the country.
Within two years, Bala has successfully trained 2,000 individuals between the ages of 15 and 60, both within India and abroad. Language barriers have posed challenges in expanding her reach further, as enthusiasts from countries such as Iran, and Iraq have expressed keen interest but face communication limitations. “Since the art form originates from the country, the highest level of interest that I have received so far is from Russia but again, language is a barrier,” she remarks.
Bala conducts online classes and offline workshops in Salem, Bengaluru, and Chennai, providing art kits to participants in India and recommending local shops for those overseas due to customs restrictions on shipping Russian colour pastes.
From hobby to profession
Bala had always been interested in the arts. “It was my hobby for as long as I can remember,” she says. From standard eighth onwards, she consistently participated in and won competitions at school, district, and state levels. “I was popular for my art in school,” she smiles.
When she passed out of Cluny Higher Secondary School in Salem, the nearest and easiest course matching her creativity was that of fashion designing at the Kongu Art and Science College in Erode. It took one-and-half hours of travelling from Salem to Erode for Bala to attend college. “I could have gone to other towns like Coimbatore, Chennai, and Bengaluru but being a pampered child, I did not want to go too far from my parents.”
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Passing out as the second rank holder in BSc, she went on to do her MSc in fashion designing from the same college and eventually gravitated towards the realm of arts.
Discovering Russian Sculpture Painting by chance, Bala immersed herself in the craft through self-teaching and learning from renowned painters’ worldwide by watching their videos. The unexpected boost of social media during the pandemic propelled her career. Now earning six figures per month, Bala looks forward to establishing an art studio in her hometown, Salem.
Having already taught numerous individuals, some of whom have become teachers themselves, Bala anticipates Russian Sculpture Painting becoming more widespread in the coming days. With that in mind, the artist-educator plans to explore other unique art forms before they become commonplace, continuing her artistic journey.
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