The transition from a corporate life to a creative life isn't always easy. There are many of us whose true calling is a creative life, but owing to the 'how', 'what' and 'when' of life, many of us fail to take the leap. 
Atma Studios had a chat with Ms. Abhinaya Sudharsanam, an Artpreneur who left her corporate job, to pursue her creative calling.
1. How did you get to know about the Artpreneur Program?
I was exploring digital designing and that’s when I came across Atma Studios’ website. I instantly loved the portfolio with a variety of projects on branding, illustrations & wedding invitations, and started following their works since then. 
When I decided to switch focus full time, I contacted SCD Balaji asking if he could teach me (which, when I think back was a bit unlike me, but I followed my gut). We had a quick call about the course structure and the areas covered. It felt right immediately and I joined his classes the same week.
2. What made you take up this Program?
I was primarily looking into learning digital illustration. I also wanted to learn Adobe softwares like Illustrator and Photoshop. After a bit of research, starting from online tutorials to colleges nearby, I realized it was going to take too long to learn everything with generic course structures and to work my way through finding what I really wanted.
I found this program the most suited for my requirements and totally tailor-made for my needs. 
3. Where were you working before joining the Artpreneur Program? Why did you opt for a career shift?
I was working in the IT industry, as a QA Engineer and team lead. While I loved the job and the experience it offered, I sort of craved for a more creative career. 
I would spend my free time and weekends learning and practising some form of art or craft.
I knew I wanted to get into a career where my passion lies and started to explore Graphic Design options. The learning process excited me so much. The possibility of actually making a living out of passion was the prime motivation and there was no looking back. Before I knew it, I was working for longer hours but was super enthusiastic about it.
The thought of starting and building a career from scratch all over again didn’t scare me enough to not pursue it. This has been one of the best decisions ever.
4. How would you describe the return on investment from this program to be like?
I was working on projects and was communicating with different sorts of clients while studying the course. While this meant I had relatively lesser time to work on assignments, I was able to compensate by learning through real time projects. I was fortunate enough to earn back the investment within a year of joining (before course completion), which I was not really expecting originally. From then on, I have been working on projects ranging from branding, illustrations, publishing and merchandising. 
If one can afford time and focus on learning while taking up projects, one can actually build a sustainable career sooner than they think.
5. The Western Universities have typically better standards, in terms of technology and creativity. So how do you find the Artpreneur Program to be, in such a setting?
While I can’t speak for all the Universities here (I have attended a college program for 3 months and have researched about design programs in the Universities around), I still have a fair idea about how the courses are structured.
A University is a great place to be at, especially to meet peers from across the world and to network, get critiques, set up art fairs, etc. The downside of it is the lack of flexibility in terms of choosing exactly the types of course you might be interested in and you need certain number of credits. You also need to be physically present/travel- all this take up some extra time which I couldn’t afford.
When Balaji explained about the course structure and the flexibility, I didn’t have second thoughts. It offered all I was looking for, I had hands-on sessions every day, and the HUGE plus was, I had one-to-one attention which I could never expect from a University. Plus, it was completely online - it literally meant I could attend classes from anywhere.
6. How has the relationship between the mentor and the Artpreneur community been after the Program?
Balaji is a fantastic educator who goes that extra mile to make sure the students understand the core details and not just the outline of a subject. This is not just during the course period, but even after it ends. He’s always available for doubts and never shies away from updating and teaching more. Even after the program, he shares his feedbacks and suggestions regularly.
He also pays attention individually, so the suggestions are very specific to one’s situation.  
7. As an Artpreneur how has your transition to motherhood been?
The transition to motherhood while being an Artpreneur has been easier than I thought - Mainly because of the fact that the mentor is available for guidance and you can always attend a class to brush up on stuff.
Of all the things motherhood teaches you, the most important one is- to be more efficient especially in the initially months/years. To be honest, I don’t take up as many projects or spend time practicing art as much as before but I’ve gotten much better at planning, organizing and getting my work done in limited time. I’ve been able to pick and choose projects that are really worth my time. And I believe I’ll eventually get back with better possibilities. Of course, it’s very important to have a supportive family through all this to make the transition smoother and I’m so grateful for that. 
8. Would you recommend Artpreneur to others? Why?
Yes, absolutely. To those who’ve been wanting to take up design as a career and are having thoughts on where to start or how to go about it, this is such a great platform. Research around, get more information on what is offered and what you are looking for, and if it feels right- just go for it! 
One of the main pros of the course is, you get so much insight about art and design as a business - how to value your time, how to price your works, following clearly defined process for the projects and other ethical business practices. You’ll learn not just through your experiences, but also through the mentor’s experiences (which is a lot). 
9. Whom do you think would not be attracted by the Artpreneur Program?
If you’re looking to learn just the softwares and want to get a corporate job or make some quick money, this probably might not suit you the best. Sure, you can do that, but the course is much more than that. Also, in case of lack of trust in the process, this isn’t going to work very well.
10. A word to people looking to join the Program...
Have a fair idea of what you’re really looking forward to learn. Make sure you can spend enough time. Be open to ideas. There’s a good chance that you’ll learn more than what you initially thought. Overall, you’ll join a fun community of people.
The Artpreneurs as a community motivate each other big time. Even though I was initially slightly skeptical, I’m amazed to see how a community of people with different backgrounds and, with their own goals and timelines, can support, be happy about each other’s achievements and thrive so well without an ounce of jealously or unwanted comparison. It’s a fine example of how an Art community should be.
To Know more about the Program, Please click and explore the below links
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