A definitive spotlight on South Asian creative trail-blazers
● A new wave of creative talent from South Asia and its global diaspora are fearlessly expressing themselves both online and IRL.
- ● Pioneering creative methods and often using their own heritage as inspiration, they are tapping into their cultural histories and personal experiences surrounding identity and representation to inform their work – and in turn – inspire the world.
- ● Below we spotlight creatives shaping the worlds of beauty, fashion, jewellery, art and community.
CONTENT CREATOR: BEAUTY
Sydney-based content creator Rowi Singh has been a pioneer in the beauty space for almost a decade. She’s known for her playful creativity, fearless and otherworldly use of colour, textural exploration (using products from her own Embellish by Rowi range) and imaginative looks. Rooted in pride for her Punjabi-heritage, Singh also has an IG platform dedicated to “unearthing and promoting creative excellence with a focus on POC”. Singh has worked on projects and partnerships with global brands including; Instagram, Nike, Fenty Beauty, Puma, Swarovski, The Body Shop and Disney.
A majority (76%) of Indian consumers have purchased skincare products after being influenced on social media (STATISTICA, 2022)
The work of Prateek Arora utilises AI technology to create characters and stories in genres largely unexplored in South Asia. A screenwriter by trade, Arora has amassed an impressive global social media following, capturing the imagination of followers with his original Indian sci-fi and horror-inspired characters and scenes. He has ambitions to bring South Asian stories to the global stage, and to ensure young South Asian audiences benefit from seeing themselves represented on screen in a new way.
- Of the 29% of people who use generative AI currently, 14% are using it in their actual work, illustrating that AI is already an integral part of creative jobs. (Shutterstock, 2022)
FASHION & TEXTILE DESIGNER
New York-based brand abacaxinyc is the brainchild of South Asian-American textile designer Sheena Shood. Steeped in colour and inspired by indigenous textiles, the brand serves as an opportunity to sell fashion items that showcase artisans practising and celebrating ancestral crafts. With fabrics developed in India, Peru, Mexico and Brooklyn New York, Shood is transparent about the manufacturing processes on social media; taking her audience on a journey that is crystal clear when it comes to the time and labour that goes into producing her collections.
- Traditional craftsmanship is still important to younger South Asians who are largely interested in understanding their own heritage and familial roots.
Manjit Thapp is an illustrator based in Birmingham. Her work combines both digital and traditional media, and the subject matter of Thapp’s work spans identity, femininity, feelings, nature and colour. Representation is hugely important to Thapp, as she’s previously spoken in depth about her experience of never seeing herself reflected in the art world, and the central characters of her work are often brown-skinned females. Thapp already has an accomplished career to date, with a headline solo show at NOW gallery, a book published with Penguin Random House and projects with Adobe, Instagram, Tate, Time Magazine, amongst many others under her belt.
- Lack of representation is an area of big concern for South-Asian creatives. It’s crucial for them to be able to start seeing themselves represented and to feel accepted, acknowledged and valued.
Kulfi Beauty is a NYC-based beauty brand, creating products that complement and meet the specific needs of South Asian skin tones. Launched in 2019 as the side hustle of founder Priyanka Ganjoo, the brand stocks products ranging from highly-pigmented Kajal eyeliners to buildable cream blushes. ‘Kulfi’ is named after a sweet Indian ice cream, and the rest of the products in the range are also given names that nod to South Asian culture. See ‘Chammak Challo” (‘flashy girl’) eyeshadow and “Purply Pataka” (‘fireworks’) eyeliner.
- Over half (63%) of American consumers are inspired by beauty brands showing diversity in their advertising campaigns (Mintel, 2021)
Bhavya Ramesh is a Bangalore-based self-taught designer creating timeless, hand-crafted silver jewellery. The brand’s aesthetic is inspired by India’s ‘Banjara’ (Gypsy) culture which is distinctive to the Northern region of Rajasthan, and their social media content and campaigns explore hedonism, community and the avant-garde. Fans of the brand include musician Joy Crookes, for whom Ramesh has created a multitude of custom pieces.
India has the third-largest online shopper base globally, with 140 million e-retail shoppers in 2020, only behind China and the US. (Bain & Company, 2021)
TikTok-sensation Leo Kalyan gained mass popularity in 2022 for their direct-to-camera Western Pop / Hindi ‘bollybeats’. Growing up between Lahore and South London, Kalyan has been making their dream-like music since the late-2000s, and has amassed an impressive following and fans that include Elton John, RuPaul and Diplo. Incredibly, Kalyan was the first South-Asian musician in the world to publicly come out as gay and non-binary, and was once the most googled person in India for challenging societal norms and wearing a dress during a high-profile musical performance.
- Representation of Black, Asian and other ethnic minorities among those aged 16-24 in the music industry in the UK stands at record 30.6% – up from 25.9% in 2018. (UK Music Diversity Report, 2020)
Once a humble instagram account, Diet Paratha has now grown into a global community and creative agency. Founded in 2017 by New Zealand-born Anita Chhiba, it has quickly become the home for creating and showcasing the best projects and talent by people of South Asian heritage across the world. Flourishing into a brand in and of itself, Diet Paratha has worked on exciting projects, product launches, mentoring schemes, collaborations and activations with the likes of Byredo, Chivas Regal, Soho House, Tate Lates and Vogue India.
- Only 6.5% of the UK creative industries are made up of individuals who are non-white. (Creative Industries Federation, 2017)