We met Kushiram one hot day in June this year as we were sourcing for another block printing partner in Jaipur. We were blown away by the humility and love this family has for the craft of blockprinting, as well as his own take on bridging modernity and tradition.
Your thesis on blockprinting is so beautifully modern. What’s your inspiration?
Actually in my thesis, the project was to create something new inspired by traditional culture and art, using traditional techniques of printing. Here are some images of this.
Why are you so passionate about blockprinting even though the rest of your family is going into screen printing?
Yes that is true - most block printers have converted into screen printers. but I am very much keen to to save block printing, and also reviving the old traditional technique, which people are not practicing now.
What are some of the difficulties you face in running a blockprinting business?
Our major issue is shortage of artisans. We have lots of orders but, the new generation is not practicing the craft. And thats is why in all block printing units there is a very limited number of expert artisans (kaarigar).
You mentioned that you father recently won the President’s Design Award. What does that mean and how did that happen?
Yes , My father received one state award (1986), and two President awards (2008 and 2010). This is an excellence award in the field of printing. He always makes unique and master pieces, with intricate design and pure natural colour by reviving old traditional techniques. There is a selection committee, and the jury is by the Govt. of india. They select the best pieces and award it that way.
What do you love about blockprinting?
When I see my creation’s first impression on fabric, that moment gives me more energy. From the thought of a concept to making the artwork and then block, the period of of time consumed is no longer painful once we see the first impression on fabric.
What do you hope for the future of this craft and your business?
We have to work hard to sustain the craft. I am working on natural dye samples and will launch a collection for every one. I am also structuring a non profit organization, which will be based on fair trade principles, and though this organization, I will give training for the new generation.
Author’s Note: All images are credited to Kushiram Pandey
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