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Right choice of Career options in Folk Art

by Vijay Garg
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India is a nation of many traditions. The long rules of emperors from different corners of the world brought different art forms with them. This gave rise to a unique culture where you can find the combination of ancient as well as modern art forms. You can find the cave paintings in Ajanta-Ellora to the modern art of M.F. Hussain. not only paintings, you can find this diversity in music, story-telling, sculpture and so on. Earlier, this field was not considered to be a viable career option. The reason was obvious. It was not profitable. But with internet connecting the world, these art forms are reaching every nook and corner of the world. People want to know more about it. Tourists are willing to scrape a portion of their money to know more about these art forms. The rich collectors are eyeing good pieces. So, if you have talent and a knack to know what the market demands, you can reach heights in this field. The most important aspect of excelling in this field is having a strong grasp of the theme of the art. Every art form carries a centralized theme. As for example, the famous Mithila or Madhubani paintings predominantly depict the marriage of Lord Rama and Sita. Unless you familiarize yourself with the basic concept, it will be difficult for you to experiment with the art form.

Career Opportunities and Job Prospects in Folk Art
Painter: There are hundreds of folk or local paintings in India. Other than the famous ones, there are still hundreds waiting to be discovered.  If you have the prior training in some form of painting, it will be easier for you to study the new ones in a better way. Many universities like BHU, Rabindra Bharti etc. are well-known for their fine arts department. You can also work solo in learning new painting styles.  A painter needs to have business skills as well as good communication skills. This is important because you will have to entertain different type of people during your professional life. Many may not be familiar with the intricacies of paintings. While many may be pretty informed. Having the above skills will help you in creating a name for yourself. A painter’s salary depends upon his/her artwork’s value. You can work with different firms specializing in creating customized paintings. You may also pen your own studio. Your salary can be minimal in the beginning and soar high with expertise and more new elements in your paintings.
Musician: Just like the paintings, each region has its own unique music. You can work as a folk musician. They are in huge demand these days. Most state governments, as well as district administrations, are holding folk festivals annually. You get to show your talent here. Also, there are many reality shows and talent hunts that allow you to reach more people.  You can even start your own Youtube channel. As a matter of fact, every Indian region has a good percentage of people living overseas. The folk music makes connects them to their motherland. even in the film industry, there is a craze for music with local flavours. As a musician, you can work with different bands or take out your own album. You can also be a performing artist in different events. 
Curator: A curator oversees the gathering, storage, and show of artworks, historical record, digital files, or artefacts. relying upon the dimensions of the organization, curators could also be accountable for operating with artists, collectors, donors, or different organizations to accumulate artwork; documentation and storage; original analysis and publication; an art show of works. historically, curators work for museums, libraries, and different arts organizations. However, in recent years this role has distended to incorporate business curators managing company record and art collections, curation for instructional establishments, charity or personal assortment curators, government curators operating with public areas, and freelance, freelance curators.
Museum Director:  These days, a number of museums are coming up focussing on folk art. You can also make your career as a museum director. You basically need to have a management degree with sound knowledge of museum maintenance and running. Most of the government-run museums need directors to have a post-graduate degree in archaeology and museology. But this may not be the case with the private museums. Though the above-mentioned degrees are definitely the ones suitable for this role. If the museum is not government-funded, then you should be well-versed in the ways of fundraising, promotions and also an extension of the collection.  You should know how to manage the artworks, organize shows to attract visitors and also promote among them. The salary will be around 40k/month in the government museums. The salary in private ones depends solely upon its reputation and revenue.
Art Restorer: There are many folk artworks that have degraded or damaged over time. An art restorer is needed to get them back to their original state. This position is a mix of scientist and an artist. You should have the scientific mind to understand the original composition of the artwork. Also, you need to be artistic enough to lend it the form that does not damage its original essence.  In most of the cases, this role is a team effort comprising of a scientist, art expert, and a restorer. You must have noticed that some paintings are made from oil pastels and some from watercolours. If you are required to restore them, you need to have the same chemical composition as the restoration material. The salary in this field is good but the initial investments are also high.
Art Authenticator: This position is mainly relevant to the paintings. Artworks of the well-known painters can fetch millions of dollars. So, there is a whole black market that deals in forgery. It is actually very difficult for an untrained eye to spot the difference. If you have the American TV series  “white collar”, then you must be in awe of the character of Neil Caffrey. The art forgers are very clever in lending a painting original look and also perfect ageing. So, the role of art authenticators is of utmost responsibility. Art authenticators are appointed by museums as well as private collectors to ensure the originality o the procured art piece.  The salary depends completely upon your knowledge and also the clients. If you work for the government museums, you will have something around 40-50k/month. The private collectors and auction houses are known to pay the really big sum to the established authenticators.
Teacher: Most Indian universities are now focussing on popularizing folk art. If you have the required degree and are NET qualified, you can be a lecturer in the colleges. Most of the central universities have courses for fine arts, dramatics, and music. You can get your education there. Also, you can work in conjunction with the local theatre groups to get to know more about the culture. As a teacher also, you can research and further explore an area’s folk art. This field needs more dedicated teachers who are willing to unearth the hidden gems of Indian art. Nowadays, even the schools are promoting folk art. Many schools employ teachers who can train their students in the local art form.  Salary in this field can vary between 10k/month-60k/month.
Entrepreneur: You can also be an entrepreneur in the folk arts. Currently, the local artists are paid meagre amounts for their artworks that are ultimately sold at high prices. Many music artists never get a chance to showcase their talent. As an entrepreneur, you can omit the role of middlemen and directly benefit the artisans as well as the buyers. You can set up an agency that deals in the resale of sculptures, paintings, and other local craft items. Or you can work towards popularising the local music and tales. The financial outcomes in this field depend completely upon the revenue you manage to generate. However, before venturing into this field, you must be mentally prepared to handle the initial failures. Not every craft form is commercially viable from the beginning. Slight modifications and too much advertisement are needed. And,  this is yet an unexplored field. So, the competition is minimal but the infrastructure is also down to zero.
Photographer: You can also venture into the field of folk arts as a photographer. when art pieces are clicked at perfect angles and light, they do create a mesmerizing effect. You can work with the entrepreneurs or as a freelance. Basically, your job will be to market the products with your snaps.  It will be a part of your job to travel extensively and discover more about the different art forms. If you work in conjunction with some agency, you will be paid per snap. If you work freelance, each photo can fetch you hundreds. But your snaps need to be unique and should show the art in an attractive form. Don’t we all love the photographs of Kathakali dancers with their eyes zoomed in? That is the effect which a perfect photo can generate.
Blogger: Folk art is yet to establish itself as a viable career option. It is ironic that in a nation with so many art forms, it is yet to catch the eyes of the people as a career.  In absence of an organized workforce and work culture, the artisans are mostly exploited. As a blogger, you can highlight the difficulties faced by the artists. You can enlighten more people about the art form. The Internet is the medium that can make millions of people known to an art from a small village. If you have a flair with the words and know how to address issues, you can start working as a folk art blogger. You can include photos, videos and also interviews with the artists. With a good number of followers, you will have a salary of around 50k/month. 
We hope that these career options will encourage you to take this off-beat career option. You will have an undiscovered path to walk on. Not only that, you will actually be able to help your fellow countrymen by popularizing their art form.

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