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Artist Swagatika Sarangi: The world is my workspace

Swagatika Sarangi, poet, zine-maker, and illustrator, talks about finding the ‘zone’ while on the move

Inspired and moved by what she experiences, both within herself and without, Sarangi writes poems, makes zines, postcards and dabbles with artforms of kinds. (Courtesy Swagatika Sarangi)

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For some artists, the stability of a workspace is a necessity to rein in their wandering mind. For others, wandering is crucial to keeping their creative juices flowing. Swagatika Sarangi belongs to the latter kind. Though she has put down roots in Bengaluru, she has spent the past year travelling extensively and making art from various of places in India and abroad.

Inspired and moved by what she experiences, both within herself and without, she writes poems, makes zines, postcards and dabbles with artforms of kinds. Currently, Sarangi is working on a collection of poems on food, female friendships, and grief.

Also Read: Designing a book cover is a huge responsibility: Gunjan Ahlawat

In an interview with Lounge, the artist speaks about the process of turning the ups and downs of a journey into art, while still dreaming of a quiet, sunlit studio.

Describe your current workspace to us.

This year was dedicated to travel, so I have been a digital nomad: my workspaces have been a cafe in Seoul, airport benches during long layovers, an economy class window seat, the top of a mountain in Dharamshala, my friend’s couch, or the table on which I studied for my boards at my parents' house. I want to think that currently, the world is my workspace. It has so many possibilities, I love it!

 I wouldn’t trade ‘the world as my workspace’ for anything, says the artist.
I wouldn’t trade ‘the world as my workspace’ for anything, says the artist. (Courtesy Swagatika Sarangi)

Has it always been this way? Or has it evolved over the years?

I have had a dedicated workspace in Bengaluru for the past five years. I decorated it with art I would collect, and there would be flowers every week. Depending on my mood, I would light an incense stick and stack books and papers on either side to give the desk a chaotic vibe. I can’t wait to recreate that space sometime in the future. It used to help me ground myself.

How would you define your daily relationship with this space?

Any workspace I enter, I think of as my zone. When I am in the zone, nothing else matters. Sure there are distractions, but every morning when I open my notebook to do my morning pages (an act of free writing for three pages, introduced by Julia Cameron in the book The Artist’s Way), it is just me and the paper—making sense of everything the voice in my brain is whispering. I think the feeling comes close to what some would call meditation.

Also Read: Shubham Kumar's studio is a space for experimentation

Tell us about some of the eureka moments you have had and major works that you have done being a workspace-nomad.

The zine about loneliness I published a year ago entitled Na Aati Hai Hichki, Na Milti Hai Hickey was crafted on the go. I created the wireframe at a roadside bench, brainstormed on a flight, and wrote it in a hotel room. The thought that I was living the life I have always wanted, and yet was feeling a sense of loneliness came to me during my travels—this is what led to the zine.

If you were to trade in this place for another, what would it be?

As of now, I wouldn’t trade ‘the world as my workspace’ for anything.

What's the one thing that has always been at your workspace over the years? Why?

No matter where I work, there’s always a notebook and a pen. Most of my work revolves around typing and clicking, but I need to write/scribble/doodle it down for my brain to acknowledge it and process that it has happened.

The first artist whose work you followed closely. What about them appealed to you?

I have closely observed Austin Kleon’s work—from his blackout poetry to zines to blogs to his books. However, when I spent more time going through his interviews, I understood his process and realised how discipline and consistency form the core of any art form. I have adopted many of his rituals—like morning pages, scribbling something every day, or making collages while on the phone.

What was the first medium/tool you used in the early years of practice? How has that evolved now?

When I first started making zines, I would do it the traditional way with an A4 size paper. I still do it when I have to make a short zine. However, since I decided to share my art with the world, I have been using digital mediums like Procreate to write, doodle, and make zines. For poetry, I have always relied on my notebooks, a private WhatsApp group, and Google docs. Nothing has changed there.

Indumathy Sukanya is an artist and independent journalist based in Bengaluru

Creative Corner is a series about writers, artists, musicians, founders and other creative individuals and their relationships with their workspaces.

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