Experimentation is the very essence of an artistic existence. And 29-year-old Gayathri Gupta Shatavelli and 27-year-old Harish Sale are redefining art mediums in a silent revolution against conventional dyes and surfaces in the country. In a soon-to-be paperless world, the entrepreneurial duo’s startup of less than five months, BeyondInks manufactures alcohol-based inks.
Launched in March 2019, the company is a first-of-its-kind venture in the country, ideated to end the scarcity of alcohol-based dyes for artists who are acclimatised to working on non-porous mediums.
“The inks are richly-pigmented, quick-drying and super vibrant, and can be used on any non-porous surface. They are easy to use, and the way the ink moves and creates patterns is almost mesmerising to watch. They work on many surfaces like YUPO, ceramics, metals, glass, resin, wood, Medium-density fibreboard (MDF), canvas – anything and everything that is non-porous,” says Gayathri, one of the founders of BeyondInks, who doubles as a project management consultant at a tech firm.
Two years ago, while working in the USA, Gayathri’s exposure to alcohol-based inks developed a fascination in her for the medium, one that she calls, “hypnotic and therapeutic”. However, she found it easier to stock up on supplies than Harish, in India, whose love for the inks made him shell out more than his hobby artist friend.
“After my move back to India, starting BeyondInks sprung from a casual discussion on how scarce these supplies are in India and how less people know about this medium while globally, this medium is spreading like crazy,” explains Gayathri.
The duo, then, decided to solve the problem by making the inks locally, at a more affordable price point and spread awareness of the medium itself among the artist community. “We began a year ago with multiple iterations, corrections and invested time to get the product right,” she shares.
All of 15 colours, the inks have pigments carried by alcohol and come with alcohol ink blending solutions that offers more flexibility to the artist. Gayathri talks about diversifying hues, adding, “We are building additional colours by collecting feedback. White is a work in progress and we also have a few metallics (gold and silver) coming up.”
Their website also resells an eco-friendly, resilient YUPO paper. “YUPO is a synthetic, tree-free, non-tear, water-proof, non-porous and recyclable paper which is an ideal surface for alcohol inks. It is environmental-friendly and when burnt, it turns to ash without releasing any toxic gases,” Gayathri says.
Calling it “a fun ride so far”, the artist duo now spend most of their time educating artists through channels like workshops, social media and artist collaboration networks.
When asked how it feels to be the pioneers of making alcohol inks in the country, the BeyondInker puts it in one word – “Great!” she says. “It is absolutely amazing to see how people react to this medium when they are using it for the first time. And being the first brand in India gives us a sense of pride and joy,” she adds.
Along with their day jobs, the duo conducts monthly workshops in Hyderabad, while cities like Surat, Pune, Ratnagiri, and Gurgaon have famous collaborating artists like Sapna Gohil (Surat), Riddhima Gupta (Delhi), Sakshi Lunkad (Mumbai) hosting theirs. City-based artist who is most known for painting spellbinding galaxies, Marzia Ali was one among the attendees of Harish and Gayathri’s workshops. “I’m someone who loves the vibrancy of colours and immediately said to myself, ‘I want to try that’. But, the paintings I saw were all abstract. So, attending BeyondInks’ first official event in Hyderabad, I learnt many techniques on how I could work more with these inks in my style,” she says.
Later, the Marzia began her own research on inks and the surfaces they would work on and found “amazing results”. “Dropping some ink would make it react to the medium. A hair dryer over wet ink begets wave-like lines; I slowly gained good control over these inks and started creating space art. These inks are beginner-friendly, too,” adds Marzia.
Gayathri, on the other hand, finds patrons who embraced the art technique and were immensely supportive. “We receive good feedback and that itself boosts us to keep going. People give clocks a new look, paint the planters, use them in resin and create coasters, table tops – there are countless creative ways,” signs off the entrepreneur.