Published: 14th October 2019
This 45-year-old Chennai store lets artists take over their Insta page to teach art to its audience
Founded in 1948 in Parry's Corner by the late PV Narayanan, HTC initially started out by selling cashew nuts and then added plastic ribbons to their catalog before branching out to stationery
Have you always been fascinated by art? It’s possibly the most beautiful and meditative medium of expressions out there. However, in this fast-paced and rat-race motivated lifestyle that we all seem to be trapped into, there might not be much time left on our hands to actually go in person to a class or a workshop to learn the nitty-gritties of art and its usage. Here's what you can do though — a 45-year-old art supply shop in Chennai has their official Instagram page which is not about promoting their products, but to teach you something valuable about art by the time you reach the end of their Insta story! Sounds crazy right?
Hindustan Trading Company (HTC) in Royapettah has been in the business of selling stationery and fine art material for over four decades now and has played a crucial role in carving out a niche for being a guiding voice to artists and amateurs in South India. Their Instagram page which is of course way younger than the shop itself, was set up and marketed throughout last year. The owners of the shop let artists take over their Insta page from time to time in order to post the process of their art through different mediums like watercolour, poster colour, acrylic paint and more. Several live tutorials, question-answer sessions are also conducted by artists on the Instagram page called '@hindustanonline'. They have also conducted live tours of the shop on Insta stories.
A lot of quality content is consumed on Instagram and that too in a short span of time, you can learn something at the end of an Insta story, and people interested will of course watch the entire story, I believe. It is the best way to quickly reach an audience, serves as an exposure for the artist, for the medium and for the store. It's thus a win-win situation for everyone involved. We do a lot of IGTV videos, stories, live sessions to keep it more interactive. Our audience comes first and then the rest. We also leave it up to the artist when they take over and give them freedom in what they do
Amritha Venkatakrishnan, Owner, HTC
Amritha is the current owner of the store, whose grandfather was the one who started it in 1948 and branched out as an art store in 1974.
HTC also collaborates with artists for art workshops apart from the Instagram take overs. The aim of the store is to reach a larger audience who love art, want to discover new artists, and learning something new. However, Amritha says she has realised that they covered more ground because of Instagram. "Posting every day is how you keep your audience engaged. You should make sure to post informative, engaging things and content that is always adding value. You can't constantly promote a product, rather you should show them how to use something then you don't have the need to promote a product, it will sell by itself. That's the methodology we like to follow," says the owner.
Acrylic painting at one of HTC's art workshops
The art workshops take place at the Madras Art Store, Alwarpet, which the family also owns along with HTC. "When I began doing this in 2016, we initially started the workshops as a community-building exercise, we wanted like-minded people to get together to learn or create art. Based on the overwhelming responses we kept doing it, post 2016, it's been more successful, collaborations have been not just taken place with artists in Chennai but in other cities as well. In terms of the workshops, we generally collaborate with the artists, brainstorm, and then decide on the things owing to what people might like to learn and is fun at the same time. We only teach 12-15 people at a single workshop because that way we can provide one-to-one assistance. It's happens every weekend in the city," she adds.
At the store, they try to educate people while they come to purchase and the aim of the workshops is to mainly educate them about the materials that are available, so people can adapt what is being taught, concludes Amritha.