Babbu The Painter; Toronto; @babbuthepainter
Let’s say we’ve just met at a cocktail party. How would you describe, in a nutshell, what you do?
I would say I’m a creative entrepreneur.
Where did you go to school and what did you study?
I graduated with a bachelor of fine arts with a major in sculpture and installation from OCAD University.
What was your first paying gig out of school? (In your field, or not.)
I was active in the community art scene fresh out of university, so I would get painting commissions here and there, and do small group shows. But that wasn’t enough so I picked up a part time job at a T-shirt printing place, so I could still focus on my art career.
What was your BIG break? How did you land it?
My most rewarding break was Mindy Kaling rocking my Bakwaas jacket. She really pushed my work and Hatecopy’s work on season five of The Mindy Project [Hatecopy, a.k.a. Maria Qamar, was honoured on FLARE’s 2016 60 under 30 list]. Mindy Kaling found our stuff on Instagram and it all started from there.
Describe the moment in which you first realized, I think this is actually going to work out?
When I really used Instagram to its full extent. For me it started from opening an online shop, and really turning my art into a business.
What would you say has been your biggest failure or shortcoming, career-wise, to date? How did you bounce back?
I think as an artist I feel the shortcomings all the time, especially in the details. I feel like I can always do bigger and bigger; it cam seem like I rush too much or there just aren’t enough hours in the day. The key is to keep educating yourself, in everything. I pick up on tricks and little tools to help me be prompt and focus on the details. And always asking for help to grow efficiently.
Name one piece of career advice you always give.
Believe in yourself. And fight for what you believe in. Ask for help. Work hard. Timing is key.
What’s the worst career advice you’ve ever gotten?
Tone it down. Make your work more surface level. Paint flowers.
Did you deal with barriers in your field because you are a woman? If so, what were they?
Yes. It was hard to get my family on board. It was tricky to explain to them that I can pursue art and be stable in life. And something I still struggle with; being taken seriously as a young female artist in the game.
Are you making a fair income for your work? Why or why not? Do you have a side hustle for extra cash? If so, what is it.
I feel very fortunate that I can pursue my art full-time. It really all started from my online shop, and that opened up so many doors to great opportunities.
What’s the worst stereotype you’ve heard about millennials at work?
That everything is “handed” to us. And we don’t work hard enough. But I think we’re just changing the ways we work hard.