By Heeral Shivnani
Midway through her undergraduate degree in biochemistry, Badal underwent an epipheny: the sort that every artist who suppresses their passion for long has to eventually face. However, the journey from discovering what she really wishes to pursue in life, to working as a full time graphic designer at Jones Knowles Ritchie in New York helming brands such such as Kashi, Unilever, Wink Brow Bar wasn't an easy one.
She quips, "It took awhile for me to convince myself that it was okay to break Indian stereotypes. It was even harder to convince myself and my parents that I didn’t just waste two complete years of college. It was probably one of the scariest and best decisions I’ve ever made." Indeed, after another four years in college Badal finally graduated from Penn State University, along with a degree in Graphic Design.
But was designing logos for brands going to be enough? Not for the
spirited Desi Girl! Badal's love for her Indian heritage led to her
creating a unique range of handmade cards with graphics reflective of
a culture close to her heart.
"Back in school, I rejected a lot about my culture just to fit in...even if I
actually liked a lot about it. Yet, over time I’ve learned to embrace my
roots. Working in a creative field and being in New York definitely has
helped bring that out as well. Whether it’s design or fashion, I like to take
old world Indian elements and juxtapose it with something more
modern without getting too generic or cliche, " she explains.
Slowly, she ventured into making wedding cards that attempt to combat growing ills of the South Asian wedding industry.
She passionately describes, "As a designer, it makes me cringe when I see a ‘insert shutterstock image of henna design here’ invitation. Also, when was the last time you even read an invitation made from India? I’ve read one recently, and I can tell you...it is the most redundant thing I’ve ever seen. It’s like no one has revisited how the designs work from the dawn of time!"
So how did she decide to challenge conventional designs available in the market? Her plan was simple: create something that balances the crispness and linearity of American sensibilities with the colorful flavors, intricate patterning and indulgent detailing of Indain craftmanship. Thus, she rightly labels every collection of her as "Born in the US, dreaming of India."
I'd rather be combining elements on both sides of the world instead of pretending to be one and being inauthentic.
- Badal Patel
Amongst all her works, certain designs such as the Raksha bandhan cards are customer favorites, " I especially like this one card that says “Near or far, I’ll be tying your rakhi wherever you are"."
Wedding suites are also fast selling as they markedly help South Asian brides both envision themselves and the girls who have around long before the dream guy, according to Patel. Ghagras and lehgena-cholis are seen studded all across save the dates, invitations, table numbers, programs, and even menus!
So what's next on the chic Indian designer's plate? "There’s always stuff that I’m constantly experimenting with and posting to my Instagram. I’ve been doing more fashion illustrations which has been getting a lot of interest. On top of that, I want to create South Asian inspired tees that are just...cool. Seeing South Asians represented graphically is important. It’s what will empower young girls and even make adults feel more comfortable in their own skin… and that why I keep doing what I’m doing."
Find out more at http://madebybadal.com/ or follow Badal @bybadal on Instagram.
About the Author: Heeral Shivnani
"KABIRA's blog is a space for anyone who creates something that's special, be it food, handicrafts, music or anything that represents a part of them in a way that nothing else does. I hope to keep bringing to light artists who deserve more appreciation than they currently recieve. The goal is share the soul of a human being, one blog post at a time."