Designer Moment: Ratna’s Seasonal Art

By • 3 years ago with one reply

Tell us about yourself! Where is your hometown? Where do you live now? Do you have any hobbies or interests outside of design? Any fun facts about yourself?

I was born and raised in New Delhi, the capital of India. In the journey of my life, I have had the good fortune of living, studying and working in New Delhi (23 years), Chicago (2 years), New York (25 years) and now Massachusetts! I am an architect by vocation and an artist by avocation.

To unwind from the highly computerized world of architecture, I started making botanical paintings as a hobby. Now I have been making them for almost thirty years! After working on a computer for long hours, when I switch to paints, brushes and water, it is very refreshing and recharging for my soul. As an architect, I draw straight lines in black and white. As an artist I create curvilinear forms and use a lot of colors. So both the fields complement each other. Architecture is also called the mother of all arts. I have applied my education in this field to evolve into an author (2 books), artist, blogger and now a designer at Zazzle!

Besides this, I love to travel (have traveled a lot in India, Europe, U.S.A. and Canada) and my hobbies include reading, writing (blog plus books), nature photography and gardening.

Tell us about the space where you do your work.

Being a creative soul, I have created four distinct zones for work. First is in my mind where I do all the thinking, dreaming, imagining and taking flights of fancy. I work from home where I have an art studio in a sun room. This is flooded with daylight and offers views of blue sky, plants and gorgeous flowering trees. This is where I make botanical paintings. Besides this, I also have an office at home with all the right equipment where I format paintings on Zazzle products, promote products and connect with the world. Last, but not the least, is my garden with about 100 species of perennials, shrubs and trees. From April to November, I see at least six species flowering daily! This is what inspires me to make quick sketches outdoors that get refined into botanical paintings indoors. So the work is like an assembly line that starts in the garden (for inspiration) then moves into my mind. After conception in the mind, it appears on paper in the painting studio and then finally moves to the office for creating products.  

What is your background in art/design? What got you started creating?

Spiritually, I have always been an artist. From kindergarten to tenth grade my hobbies included drawing, sketching, cartooning, and painting. This led to participating in many competitions and winning prizes. In 11th and 12th grade, I majored in science and technical drawing and attained 98 percent in the latter. I always wanted to major in a field that would lie at the confluence of science, art and technology. This is what led me to become an architect and it opened up the wonderful and highly creative world of design. I hold a B.Arch. from S.P.A., New Delhi and a M.S.Arch. from I.I.T., Chicago. My architectural experience covers hi-end residential, healthcare, retail and hospitality in New York State. Besides this, I have also worked in New Delhi and Chicago.

The geographic migration from New Delhi to Chicago in 1988 brought out the botanical artist in me. While New Delhi was tropical with a very long summer, Chicago was temperate with a very long winter. It was normal to snow there from Thanksgiving to Memorial Day! But after a long winter when the grounds on the campus became green, I noticed the miracle of spring with the bounty of crabapple blossoms. To savor and cherish this beauty of nature, I started making botanical paintings in my leisure time. Now I have been making them for thirty years. They have been featured at many exhibitions in New York State, shown in web magazines, book covers etc.

After crossing the age of fifty, I wanted to create a fine balance between my material and spiritual life, give back to the world and create a legacy to be remembered. Winston Churchill has said, ‘You make a living with what you earn, but you make a life with what you give.’  This is when Zazzle came in the picture! It offered a wide range of useful product prototypes. So I thought of humanizing these machine-made products with handmade botanical art. My store was launched in November, 2017 and since then I have created seven design collections with over 250 products. It has been a great journey!

Where do you find inspiration for your designs?

The impact of the four distinct seasons on flowers and leaves in the New England region of U.S.A. inspires me to design. It all begins with being outdoors in my garden, going for walks, visiting botanical gardens and observing plants. As I expose my vision to different forms in the plant kingdom, something inspires me to choose that plant as an object for painting. It could be the form, pattern, color, context, the degree of simplicity or complexity.

When do you feel most creative? Your least?

I am most creative when I am alone and in the morning. It is a heady combination of uninterrupted time and high energy. Also a visit to the garden totally charges my senses with new sights, scents and keeps the creative juices flowing in my mind. I am least creative at the end of the day or when the TV is on.

What are your favorite products to design on Zazzle?

The combo mug tops the list, as this is where I play with design. For me each new design collection begins with this product. Sometimes I create 5-7 variations with just this product! It is wonderful to see the design unfurl on the walls of the mug as you rotate it. Besides this, I love to design on iPad covers, ceramic bowls in different shapes, throw pillows and iPhone wallet cases, etc.

If you could wish for one new product on Zazzle, what would it be and why?

I would like to design on many more products made out of fabric (e.g. bed covers, clothing etc.).

What was the very first Zazzle product that you sold?

It was budding peonies tea cup. You can see it here:

What are your 5 favorite products in your store?

Budding Peonies on a Salad Bowl

Fiery Tulips on an iPad 2/3/4 Smart Cover

‘Hosta with the Mosta’ on an iPhone Case

Candy Cane Lilies on a Decorative Porcelain Plate

‘The Pansy Party’ on an iPad Smart Cover

Do you have any advice for new Zazzle Designers?

I would advise them to take the time and effort to spread the word about their store by blogging, holding exhibitions and using social media (on a daily basis). Also, reach out to the local media when you launch your online store. People are always interested in learning what is ‘new’ in town.

Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know about you?

Yes, there are three issues. First, why I chose to do this. Tim Cook has said, “In every way, at every turn, the question we ask ourselves is not ‘what can we do’ but ‘what should we do’.” With this in the backdrop, let me explain the context.

Climate change, global warming and rapid urbanization are slowly diminishing the natural world. Some scientists estimate that one flowering plant species dies out every day. Recently, Time magazine quoted that 60% of plants in the world’s richest forests are at a risk of extinction in the next century. By the end of this century, 90% of the human population would be living in urban areas. This will create, and is already creating, an immense hunger for green pastures and the sight of delightful plants. All of these factors combined with advancing technology are making the human race lose touch with nature. So the products from my store will help fill the need for this. It feels good to use my passion for botanical painting to address the hunger for nature worldwide.

Second, I have also authored two books namely: The Watercolor of Life (available on Amazon) and Nature Inspired Creativity (available on iTunes). Read them to understand how my mind works.

Third, you can follow me on Instagram, where I post new products quite frequently:

and at my blog:

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One thought on “Designer Moment: Ratna’s Seasonal Art”

  1. Well done Ratna!
    May you have great success with your original floral designs. The design process you shared was very interesting and it is great to see a combination of traditional paper sketching and digital drawing.

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