Karishma Siddique Roy. Loreto. Jadavpur University. RJ in All India Radio. Curator of Rock Notes. Manager of Musical Bands. Marriage to a Mandolin player. Ownership of a Sustainable Clothing and Accessories Brand. Designer of own line (or should it be destiny?). I guess, life doesn’t get any more exciting than this. But hang on.
Karishma is also a Fountain Pen User. A self-taught artist, her sketches are… well, let us leave it on you to get wowed! Excerpts:
Inked Happiness: When do you even get the time to sketch? You seem to have so many creative urges pulling you in every possible direction…
Karishma Siddique Roy: Thank you for your kind words. Since childhood, apart from being a good student, I also had a wide range of interests; art, music, drama, elocution, rangoli making (#kariegamidecor) and fashion, winning prizes in school and college. My parents always encouraged me to pursue them and even as an adult, my chosen career paths are quite varied as I seek to integrate my passions. My father was into music and art in his youth and my mother inculcated in me the love of literature and languages. I am mostly self-taught and have been drawn to and drawing faces from the age of three.
Being a music lover, I aspired to be a radio jockey since I loved listening to the gorgeous, friendly voices on the radio and learning the stories behind favourite songs. As soon as I completed my Masters in English from JU, I began freelancing for All India Radio, Kolkata, in their western music section, writing my scripts with my beloved Lamy Safari.
Fashion and sustainable living is really my lifestyle and I set up my eco-friendly label KSR (Instagram: @studioKSR, #thekheshgirl, #studioksr) where I handcraft unusual statement jewellery and work with weavers using sustainable methods, fabrics like Khesh (that incorporates an indigenous weaving technique to reuse old cotton sarees to create new yardage) and naturally dyed organic cotton. I am thoroughly inspired by the traditional Japanese mended and patched textiles called Boro and incorporate Sashiko inspired hand embroidery (so similar to our Kantha) to create our #forevertrouserbyKSR, a range of unisex indigo trousers which come with a lifelong repair service. My ideations and sketches are rendered with pens, pencils and inks.
I also have a personal project called Kariegami, where I promote sustainable choices in everyday living through reuse and recycling and incorporate the art of origami into many areas like gift-wrapping (#kariegami).
While I usually sketch and take up commissions intermittently, since the end of 2020, I have been sketching everyday as a sort of therapy and I never leave home without my sketchbook.
Inked Happiness: Why Fountain Pen? How do you rate the pleasure of writing / sketching / doodling with a fountain pen and ink when compared to other available implements?
Karishma Siddique Roy: I have started sketching with the fountain pen since a couple of months really. And for this I would like to give due credit to my husband Diptanshu, who is a fountain pen aficionado. I use fountain pens for writing and usually work with graphite, charcoal and drawing inks and brush for art. But he encouraged me to try sketching with fountain pens since he had many to spare! And that worked out so well for me that now I am hooked to it.
It feels fantastic to use an FP and I personally find it a bold and mature tool that leaves no scope for error in the creation of my art. Every stroke must be well thought out, especially for portraits. I would say it is akin to using an analogue camera where the focus is on precision and where the output is totally dependent on the composition you create in your mind.
I am enjoying exploring various types of pen and nibs, with each producing such varied results. While I would initially use two or more pens to produce one artwork, now I prefer the challenge of working within the limitations of a single nib type often using reverse writing to make the finer details. I am excited to try the untipped folded titanium nib by Acriv Pens in India.
Inked Happiness: Do you think that the people of your age are being overwhelmed digitally? Is there a need for a kind of a release? A digital detox? If yes, can the fountain pen provide that catharsis? Going forward, will you recommend that more young people pick up hobbies like journaling and doodling?
Karishma Siddique Roy: Certainly. But it has its pros and cons like everything else. Creators now have a global audience to showcase their craft. One does not need to rely on physical exhibitions, which while prestigious are also an expensive proposition, especially for talented but young artists.
Interestingly, in most cases, people are using the digital medium to display their handcrafted creations. There are so many videos on the internet of people just documenting their doodling and journaling process. The youth are certainly engaging with age-old modes of creation while using digital skills and tools to display them.
As long as literature and art exist, the fountain pen will reign supreme. The satisfaction of using a handmade fountain pen on specialized ink friendly paper like the Midori or Tomoe River is unparalleled.
Inked Happiness: How has the fountain pen helped you cope with the lockdown induced aberration that you must have faced? What has been your takeaway from the experience?
Karishma Siddique Roy: Through the lockdown, I was actively engaged in the global phenomena, the #artrecreation or the #museumchallenge series started by the Instagram profile Tussenkunstenquarantaine. My recreations were very well received and for those interested, you may find them under #kariepotterartchallenge.
Unfortunately, my initiation into fountain pen sketching is intertwined with a personal loss. I lost my absolute favourite person, my father-in-law last year and that sent me and my family into depression because he was a very, very dear part of our lives. In fact, it was his love for fountain pens that has rubbed off on Diptanshu and he has inherited a couple of vintage daily writer pens such as the Pelikan Pelikano, a couple of Japanese Pilots and a Mont Blanc. As a sort of necessary distraction, I started sketching regularly and that has had a cathartic effect on me and is helping me cope with the loss. I have begun a page on Instagram called @potteraits where I post my artwork every day.
Inked Happiness: You are a sworn Fountain Pen user, which is the most sustainable and eco-friendly among the writing implements. You are also the creator of your own brand of sustainable clothing. Point is, both are labelled “elitist”. How do you react? What are you doing to shatter these myths? Or are you content forgiving them, for they know not, what they know not?
Karishma Siddique Roy: The ‘elitist’ myth is getting shattered everyday as the world realises that only sustainability is the key to a liveable future. It is a necessity, not luxury.
Handmade and handcrafted products are more expensive because they need more time and effort and are lifetime investments. The human touch can never be replaced even with the most complex machine. We should value the craftsmanship behind handmade ebonite pens which are still very affordable in India but considered a luxury in the west.
And as awareness grows and more brands incorporate it into their design and production, the products are also becoming more affordable and hence more accessible for consumers.. The ‘less is more’ philosophy is not just an ideal now, but the only way to pave a healthy way ahead.Imagine the beauty of just one lovingly cared for fountain pen, a lifelong companion instead of a hundred disposable plastic pens. Not to mention the impossibility of actually ‘throwing away’ anything plastic.
Because as one of my favourite quotations goes “Only when the last tree has died and the last river poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realize that we cannot eat money”.
Inked Happiness: Tell us about your favourite fountain pen. Why is it that you consider it so dear? What about ink? Any chosen one?
Karishma Siddique Roy: I currently use the Waterman Hemisphere, the Conklin Duraflex, Limited Edition Elements-Earth, the Lamy Safari, the Ranga Model 3 and the Pilot Metropolitan (which I must mention, was given to Diptanshu, by fellow Fountain Pen Club India member, Nihar Rangoonwala, as part of a barter). I use the Conklin the most because the long duraflex nib helps me with the intricate detailing and since it’s a wet writer (and after much tweaking of the feed by Diptanshu), it helps me in filling up large areas easily.
About the ink, Sulekha it is! We bought the special Swadeshi set of 3 bottles after reading about it on your esteemed blog. Another black ink I use, mostly for commissioned work, is the Pilot Iroshizuku Take-sumi.
The Sulekha ink is very helpful for daily sketching as it is of amazing quality and yet very pocket friendly.
Inked Happiness: Anything that you would like to communicate to our readers.
Karishma Siddique Roy: I would like to begin by thanking you and the Fountain Pen community for such a warm welcome and for all the encouragement and support. It is a truly engaging, positive and insightful forum.
To commission any artwork or to simply follow more of my art, please follow me on my new Instagram profile: @potteraits. My artistic alter ego is Karie Potter.
I am currently doing a special series, #theiconseries on musical legends in collaboration with typography enthusiast Diptanshu Roy (@kerning_man).
I am planning to do a physical exhibit of my work sometime this year, the pandemic permitting.
My sustainable clothing line is @studioKSR
And if you are interested in music, you can find me performing with Dolinman here: https://youtu.be/34LZmdfyW8k
Your support would be greatly appreciated.