November 2004

Grassroots Artist and Entrepreneur

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Miss Parimala in a remote village near Madurai district could have been unknown to many, as also numerous other artists, as they live and experience the “invasion” of the modern information, communication technologies. But, today she has been rapidly converted to a master craftsman, teacher and entrepreneur. Thanks to the world of e-Marketplace for culture and arts.

It all began two years ago, when Parimala was just 20. As a budding artist, she would spend hours on end, to create works of art whose style and presentation though quite traditional, had a touch of modern flavour. Parimala, like scores of girls and boys in the village and nearby communities are adept in the art of painting on glass, and embellishing the paintings, often of Hindu deities, with semi-precious and precious stones. This style of art is known as Tanjore style paintings. They are done on glass, cloth, hand made paper and canvas.

What is quite unique and exciting about Parimala's work is that she has been able to create products that have been in demand, and being unable to cope with the volume of orders that she is now receiving. She has motivated her other friends and colleagues to join in the fray. She takes care of the quality of the productions.

How did it all begin? Says Parimala, “One day we had a distant relative of ours visiting us in our village from Singapore. She was on holidays to understand how we are, and what are our career options. When she saw my interest in painting, she suggested that I prepare a digital brochure, which meant that I had to photograph all the work done so far, and then prepare a digital listing of each photograph. With a small description of the work done, I did not take much time to get organised”.

“My aunt left back for Singapore, but asked me to send the brochure and details by email. For me, it was the unique opportunity to move into the world of digital communications. It was the best thing happened to me so far. I was able to send the email with some help from the nearby town's cyber cafe”.

She was able to gain rapidly the applications of ICTs for finding new markets, and that too in Singapore. At the other end, her aunt had set up a website, which showcased Parimala's work. It was part of the activities that she was already engaged in. She runs a gift shop and already has many clients. When her clients were introduced to this grassroots linkage with the artist herself, it was received very positively.

Orders began to pour in. All the productions that her aunt had personally carried with her were already sold out. Parimala continued to receive orders by email, asking her to produce in particular size or covering a particular theme. In fact, the rapidity of the orders made Parimala move away from producing all the works by her. She began to ask her friends and classmates of the Arts school, to help her cater to the orders that she received.

This opportunity provided Parimala to move away from being simply an artist to become an entrepreneur. Even though none of the members in this community own a computer, the nearby cyber caf

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