Aaquib Wani’s Customised Hand-Painted Jackets Are Reviving Traditional Indian Art Forms

Aaquib Wani’s Customised Hand-Painted Jackets Are Reviving Traditional Indian Art Forms

Musician-turned-artist Aaquib Wani wasn’t prepared for the flood of responses he got when he put up his signature hand-painted jackets up on his social media account. The pictures were taken in a hurry without the intention of consciously ‘advertising’ his latest creation. But the excited ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ that followed (including my own) were a pleasant surprise considering how he had very serendipitously dived into this little solo project.

A successful and obvious blend of modern and traditional aesthetic, Aaquib’s hand-painted leather and denim jackets are a refreshing burst of colour, breaking away from the monotony of regular block colour outfits. Moreover, they’ve been made in collaboration with local artisans from around Delhi. Whether it’s the orange and green spikes around the collar or the fine embroidery and other design elements that make the hand-painted patches come alive effortlessly, Aaquib’s jackets are fascinating - especially for the kind of stories they tell.

“I had a bunch of old jackets lying around the house and I wanted to turn them into pieces of art. So I thought why not get in touch with local artisans who actually practice traditional art forms and work with them?”, Aaquib tells Homegrown. And that was where it all began. Soon, Aaquib had managed to locate artisans who were willing to come on board and lend their skills for this ambitious (it took them two weeks to make one jacket) collection.

The idea, according to Aaquib, was to revive traditional art forms that are dying a slow and unfortunate death. “There are many art forms like Pattachitra and Madhubani paintings which people know about but everyone just takes them for granted. So for my first collection I identified a bunch of fine painters and people who could do embroidery as well,” he shares. Moreover, personally working with the artists meant Aaquib was able to understand the nuances of the art form as opposed to simply absorbing it as a final product in the form of a painting.

As someone who started out as a musician but somehow found his passion as a designer of posters, sets, stages, and now jackets (amongst other things), Aaquib is completely self-taught as far as his art is concerned. And perhaps that’s what allows him to be more open-minded and have a fresh perspective towards traditional art forms. A constant “trial and error process”, his hand-painted jackets are a result of long hours of labour invested by both the artisans and Aaquib, “Working with the artisans is a collaborative process. I tell them the exact motif and colours that I want and then let them understand, interpret, and execute in the way they want. So it’s a mix of their style and my aesthetic.”

As a professional who is constantly on the move and evolving, Aaquib plans on exploring more art forms in the future. “Right now I’m in Udaipur and I came across painters who paint on silk. It’s such fine work. It made me want to incorporate it in one of my future collections. Moreover, there are so many unexplored art forms down South and even in the Northeast,” he tells us. Aaquib is also collaborating with Levi’s for one of their exclusive collections.

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