A Kolkata Cartoonist's Vibrant Illustrations Are Transforming Ordinary Cups Of Joe

L: Shyama Prasad Dey R: Shyama Prasad drawing a caricature on one of his coffee shops
L: Shyama Prasad Dey R: Shyama Prasad drawing a caricature on one of his coffee shopsTelegraph India

In my hometown, Kolkata there is vibrant creativity in every nook and corner — one simply needs to know where to look. The artist we are exploring today does not exhibit in white-cube galleries — instead, his artistry rises organically from a street-side coffee shop. Nestled beside the bustling Tollygunge Metro station isn't your average cup of joe. Here, a splash of artistic flair blends with the aroma of freshly brewed coffee, all thanks to Shyama Prasad Dey.

Dey, a former cartoonist and sketch artist, navigated a new reality when the pandemic closed down his art business. In 2021, necessity became the mother of invention and Dey transformed his 20-year-old bookstall into a vibrant coffee stall that's become a social media sensation.

L: Shyama Prasad Dey R: Shyama Prasad drawing a caricature on one of his coffee shops
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Dey's stall is anything but ordinary. Gone are the days of rows of books and magazines. Today, the space is a visual feast, adorned with Dey's own artwork. Caricatures, paintings, and witty messages scrawl across walls, while Dey's signature cartoons even find their way onto coffee cups. Customers can even get a personalized caricature for a small fee, adding a unique touch to their caffeine fix.

Caricatures, paintings, and witty messages scrawl across walls on Shyma Prasad Dey's coffee shops
Caricatures, paintings, and witty messages scrawl across walls on Shyma Prasad Dey's coffee shopsTelegraph India

But Dey's artistic expression goes beyond a sales gimmick. An article by News18 reveals how his artistry is a window into his soul, a canvas where his passion for making people laugh finds a new outlet. "These days, people have forgotten how to laugh," Dey says, explaining the motivation behind his work. "I make cartoons to make people smile."

Dey's journey reflects the collective struggles faced by many artists during the pandemic. While his art exhibitions and competitions once brought accolades, the economic downturn forced him to shift gears. Yet, his entrepreneurial spirit and artistic ingenuity shone through. He leveraged his existing stall location and transformed it into a space that caters to both taste buds and artistic appreciation.

A recent video by well-known Bengali vlogger Aradhana Chatterjee brought Dey's story to light, showcasing his transformed stall and his artistic background. The video sparked a wave of online support, with social media users vowing to visit Dey's stall and experience his unique blend of coffee and creativity.

Dey's story is a testament to the human spirit's ability to adapt and find joy amidst challenges. While the pandemic may have disrupted his artistic path, Dey continues to chase his passion, albeit through a different medium. His coffee stall isn't just a source of income; it's a vibrant expression of his artistic identity; a place where a cup of joe comes with a generous serving of creativity.

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