KOCHI: “Imet her in college four years ago. I had a little crush on her. A friend set us up on a date. While we were on the date, I realised she had a crush on me as well. Next week, I will be proposing her. I already have her parents’ blessings. And I want things to be perfect for us. She is really special. While I’m proposing, I want to remind her of all the memories we have made, inside jokes and our special moments with each other.
I will message you a list of places and dates that are special to both of us. I would forever be grateful if you could incorporate all those details and create a poster.” Mumbai-Malayali Varsha Nair receives these types of calls on a normal basis. Varsha specialises in customised artworks. You might know her Instagram handle WhARTever. The page, run by Varsha and her partner Vivek Wagh, has more than 58,000 followers and is popular on most social media platforms.
For Varsha, the best thing about the whole endeavour is the different kinds of personal stories she gets to hear every other day. “These are sweet stories no one knows. Just me. I always look forward to these conversations. And it helps my art to connect with the customer as well,” she says. Somehow staying true to these words, WhARTever’s customers and audience are young adults from Mumbai and Kerala.
Not just posters, WhARTever’s masterpieces take a creative shape on shoes, bags, window panes, Starbucks cups, vegetables, and whatever she lays her hands on.
“But I love to work on shoes more,” says Varsha. It won’t come as a surprise once you see the mythical characters and everyday life evoked on different pairs of white sneakers. “And most of the orders are for gifting purposes,” she says.
For Vivek and Varsha, every day is experimental. “We start a new project when we feel like trying something new. Be it creating embroidering Virat Kohli or making Sachin Tendulkar on a dusty windshield of a car, we figure it out on our own and see how it turns out,” says Varsha.
Varsha started WhARTever during her time at Sir J J School of Art. “At the time, I did not need the money because my parents were still supporting me,” she says. “Even though it was not steady in the beginning, I didn’t feel the pressure of making money through art. I was able to stabilise the brand. Now, when I think about it, if I had started WhARTever with the mindset of making money, it probably would not have worked out.”
After college, when most of her classmates started work with corporate houses, she stayed home. “All of them had a fixed income. I was still struggling though I had received job offers. And I chose not to go, which initially worried my parents,” Varsha says. Once they saw her heart in the right place when it came to her profession, they were all in.
However, it was not a joyride from the beginning. “Initially, no one knew us. They wouldn’t trust us with orders. In the beginning, it was just family and friends who placed orders. However, that instantly changed after we made ourselves known on Instagram,” says Varsha.
The Vivek-Varsha duo now regularly conducts art workshops for people of all ages across the country. They dream to make art accessible to everyone. “We want to create an art space which is open all the time. In this space, people will be able to play with colours and imagination for as long as they want,” Varsha says. With WhARTever, their dreams will hopefully take flight soon.