In recent business scenario, refining a personal brand has become crucial than ever. Building and marketing an effective personal brand has enabled several leaders to stay distinguished in the race. A well-known example of personal branding is demonstrated by Maithillee Zaveri (Founder at Maithillee). Maithillee pursued her zeal for art and has successfully established herself as an artist with a recognized brand value. As an extraordinary businesswoman, Maithillee believes in blending hard work and smart work to create the rightly balanced concoction of success.
Featuring in this issue of 10 Most Creative CEOs of the Year 2023 is Maithillee Zaveri, an artist, and a connoisseur of fine things. Here is the conversation with her –
Where did you start? Draw us a picture of your educational and professional journey.
Unlike many children around the age of 12 who are unsure of what they’d want to become when they grow up, I was asked what to you want to become when you grow up? I was sure, I wanted to become a fine artist, painter. I was always praised, encouraged & motivated for my creativity/my art works in school which boosted my confidence to work harder & make better works. I did my first art exhibition in 2004 where I sold 3 artworks to a client & that was another reason which motivated me to pursue art as a career.
I graduated from The British school, New Delhi in the IB Diploma course (2008) after which, I moved to Singapore in the same year & graduated in BFA Fine Arts painting from The Lasalle College of the Arts in 2011. I’ve been in the art industry since 2004 & have been exhibiting since then all over India a well as few Internationally as well.
My works have varied over the years from doing still life studies, abstract art, sculptures, portraits to now, Indian architectures & conceptualised landscapes. I’ve had my ups & downs myself but with high hope I never gave up & thrived to help people in need by working closely with NGOs & children especially those who felt there was no future in Art or in the industry. I have inspired & motivated them by educating them to see a future in art as now days there are many options for artists but how each artist works towards their goals, creates new works & sells/markets their work makes a big difference as every artist & their style of creating artworks + marketing/selling them is different.
How has been your journey so far with Maithillee and what drives you today? What inspired you to become a CEO / or lead a company?
My journey so far as an artist has had its ups & downs. It had been challenging because for 25 years I was based in New Delhi, India after which, I moved to USA for a year, then Mumbai for 4 years & currently I’m based in Gurugram, Haryana in the last 3 years. Moving Cities & countries has been challenging because each time you’re in a new place, you first settle down yourself then restart your career by visiting galleries, meeting new people, socialising, collaborating with them & showcasing your works + the most important part is finding an art studio to create works from where an artist can work from peacefully. He most challenging time has been during COVID – 19 where works weren’t getting sold & participating in exhibitions becoming very expensive.
Many people think “oh you’re an artist? you must be so wealthy selling works in millions.” I feel in today’s world, paintings (hand painted) are difficult to sell because the art fraternity has become so digitalised that the canvas or paper painting artists value has decreased drastically. We are unable to sell artworks easily + a lot of self-taught artists are budding in the market & selling works more than professional artists. It’s not easy to create a niche for an artist in the art market anymore. Many works are not sold for days, weeks, months or even years for many artists which makes it difficult for their survival especially if they are the only bread earner in their family or don’t have a side job. When works are not sold & you keep creating new works, storage becomes a problem too.
Over the years I developed my own style of creating my works & when I had more than 20+ works, I realised I was short of space to store my unsold works that’s when the idea of having my own studio came to my mind & from then onwards, there was no looking back. I started getting commission works on orders from then onwards too.
Then having a team of people working under me for framing & transporting works took a while too. I learnt how to manage my time, space & people working under me which inspired me to become a CEO eventually.
What solutions or services does Maithillee offer to its clients?
I do exhibitions all over India & internationally as well. I also take commission works on order from clients (this means when a client gives the artist a photograph he/she wishes to get made from the artist on a mutual contract i.e., either on paper, canvas or using any other material after its been discussed between the client. This also includes which medium the artist is using (charcoal/pen/ink/pencil/watercolours/acrylics/oil or mixed media) Here, the size of the artwork also matters & that’s when the artist charges his/her client depending on how much time he/she has invested in creating the artwork, the material costing, framing & couriering if needed.
i ensure to give my best in all her paintings whether it’s from my own creativity to all my clients requirements or on commission basis. My own created landscape paintings in specific are unique because I carefully chooses 3 -4 images of my choice/my own photographs (which I have captured) then merge them together on paper first to finally creating a masterpiece which speaks for itself. I believe in creating vibrant/colourful landscapes which include waterfalls or antique doors leading to peace.
my interest in Black + whites and landscapes were cultivated during my teenage years and further developed when i opted to take BFA Degree in Fine arts, painting. Throughout my life, i had always been fascinated by the intricacies and craftsmanship on these architectural Monuments, forts and palaces. i started experimenting them in Black + White while using mixed mediums on paper as i believe that Black + White is an interpretation of reality and they flourish even today. They take attention away from the texture, tonal contrast, shape, form and lighting effects with a touch of a color as well. Hence, i try to capture the intricacies as closely as possible while making my artworks live from the spot and, filling in the shades by carefully visualizing them in black + white.
Naturally i fell in love with the Black + white concept of architectures and its intricacies + craftsmanship.
What are your key roles and responsibilities as the CEO?
To run any business as a CEO/Managing director, I believe it’s important to know who you are as an individual, the ability to understand your own strengths & weaknesses. I also believe to be a quick decision maker, able to take risks & challenges committed & dedicated to complete a task, willing to experiment & learn new things, knowledgeable & enthusiastic.
My key roles & responsibilities as the CEO is ensuring all my works are completed on time (especially commission-based works for clients) including framing if/when the client requires & sent to them on time. Another one is making sure before exhibiting my works, the exhibition venue is well lighted, my works are well presented/are presentable, transported on time to the venue or client (if commission based). The exhibition is well marketed in the market (including getting brochures, pamphlets/leaflets made, online promotion, media promotion), ensuring we have enough visiting cards, having guests of honours to inaugurate the exhibition, having snacks for all guests etc
Tell us something about your team and the culture of your company. How are you keeping them motivated in current times?
I believe time management is everything. You need to manage/utilise your time well/efficiently to succeed. I work 7 hours a day on my art & I know the rest of my time I invest on is at the home front. Very few people know that I’m quite athletic too. I love riding horses, playing badminton, swimming & gyming. my mornings start with exercises in anyone of these forms so I remain active throughout the rest of the day.
As a leader, how do you maintain the perfect balance between your personal and professional life?
In the art fraternity, its more about socialising with the right people (gallery owners, curators, art consultants & other artists) which helps an artist get ahead. The artworks speak for itself eventually. My Key milestones I have set for myself & my company are producing more artworks each month, finishing commission works on time for clients, try to do more exhibitions whether online or physically in art galleries across India as well as Internationally. .I see myself as an international renowned artist in the future. Having my own art academy or a NGO one day where I educate children about the importance of art, art therapy, giving them hope & scope to grow as individuals & I continue to do so whenever I visit NGOs or invited as guest of honours for various school & college competitions or during inaugurals.
What are the key milestones you have set for your company for the year 2023?
The art world is tricky, one can’t foresee when it would change. There are some artists like me who paint what they find appealing to their eyes. Then there are other artists who paint after getting inspired by other artists artworks or other artists who paint depending on what’s selling in the market. An artist can never tell/make out what people like in the art fraternity as every individual has their own choices. I see myself as an international renowned artist in the future. Having my own art academy or a NGO one day where I educate children about the importance of art, art therapy, giving them hope & scope to grow as individuals & I continue to do so whenever I visit NGOs or invited as guest of honours for various school & college competitions or during inaugurals.
Going forward, what are the changes in market behaviour that you anticipate, and what are the opportunities that you foresee?
Every artist has his/her style of creating artworks. I feel there is no competition between an artist in the art industry. No artist can replicate another artists work as it is. The art industry revolves around the quality of the artwork, how active an artist is (in terms of doing exhibitions, networking & marketing their works) it’s school & colleges which teach us about competitions other than in any sports but in reality, the art world can’t have a competition. Not every artist has the privilege to showcase their works even today due to income factors, no confidence (as to what people will think about me – the artist & my works) or no support from families. I would say, that I have been blessed to have my family support through thick & thin always.
If you want to share a message or give a suggestion to our readers, what would it be? What is the life or success mantra you live by?
One should never look down of yourself, learn to say NO, have faith & confidence in yourself that whatever you want to achieve in life, you can do it& be strong enough to be financially independent so that people would chase you for all the good reasons. You are a lot worthier than you think & you can achieve whatever you want in life. Don’t pity yourself you are braver & stronger than you think. Success can hit had to anyone in their head but no matter how successful you become, make sure you still remain humble, true to yourself & don’t let over confidence get you too. Stop competing with others, compete with yourself, thrive to become a better version of yourself from the time you started your journey as an entrepreneur or business man/woman.