Published: 10th February 2021
On her marquage: How this artist is sprucing up old handbags and shoes with her vivid artwork
Shirin Watwani is a Chennai-based marquage artist who is painting on clothing and accessories to give them an arty makeover
More often than not, it so happens that we are bored of wearing our old clothes or accessories over and over again. What if you could spruce it up with some attractive artwork? Well, that is exactly what artist Shirin Watwani is doing with her customers' bags, shoes and clothes. With a paintbrush and acrylic colours in hand, Shirin is transforming the fashion accessories into something creative and super fun.
Shirin tells us that she got started on this revamp of a journey with painting handbags. "I had been painting on canvas and one of my art exhibitions was completely sold out. After that, a friend of mine approached me with a handbag which she wanted me to paint on. Initially, I was quite reluctant to do it but she persisted and eventually, I ended up creating artwork on her bag," says Shirin. This happened mid-2017 and there has been no stopping Shirin since. "I began experimenting with some of my friends' handbags to check whether the colours will last. In the initial stages, I got 25 bags which took me around six months to finish. After getting positive feedback, I decided to do it full time," the former graphic designer tells us.
Pic: Shirin Watwani
Speaking about the type of motifs she uses on the products, Shirin says, "I'm very inspired by nature and it is almost always something floral or with some birds or animals. All of my work is commissioned and therefore, I work closely with the customer and involve them in the process. I ask them to send me some motifs they like from my Instagram page. This helps me decide what they like. Then we decide on a particular design together using photographs."
The type of artwork that Shirin does is called marquage, a French word that means making a mark. Shirin believes she is making her own mark on the fashion items through her artwork. "It takes around two to three weeks to finish a project, depending on its scale," she says. While Shirin does a lot of her artwork on products from designer brands, she says she also works on non-branded products. "For me, it's just a surface to paint on," Shirin explains.
Pic: Shirin Watwani
And how long do these last? "It is water-resistant but is susceptible to general wear and tear. If the painted area is rubbed on a coarse surface or scrubbed on, then the artwork will be impacted," says Shirin. When asked about how many products she has painted on, Shirin says she has lost count over the last three and a half year she has been doing it. And she thanks Instagram for her busy schedule (she says she's booked for the next nine months!), "Most of my clients come through Instagram, where I upload all of my artwork. Sometimes, the entire process gets done just through DMs and not even one meeting or phone call," Shirin narrates.