Can you tell the readers of TTM Paper Samosa's backstory?
Simmi Patel: Paper Samosa was something that started out as a fun creative outlet for myself. After writing for brands and learning their voices and styles I had a deep craving to create without limits and reconnect with my own style – uninterrupted. I leaned into Indian culture when I realized I wanted there to be more cool stuff for us - the generation that is a mixed blend of Indian and Western upbringing. With my background in writing and general love for word-play and humor, I challenged myself to create pieces that would twist and play with both cultures in a way that was unique, light-hearted, colorful and fun. I wanted to speak to our generation and celebrate our unique makeup of traditional and contemporary, Indian and Western, Bhangra and hip hop. I wanted to create pieces that would truly represent us.
Has art always been an interest of yours?
SP: Words and ideas are my puzzle pieces and I can lose myself playing with them. However, I’ve always had a deep love for art. I’ve been drawn to colors, pencils, paint brushes, and anything I could mold since I could remember. In high school I was part of the art honor society and art class was my favorite part of school. However, I drifted away from all of it and only recently started to reconnect through Paper Samosa. I started really basic, just black and white illustrations on paper. As I kept going, I gained more confidence and simultaneously began to discover my style. It’s been so much fun and really empowering to know that if I really, really work at it, I can create whatever my mind thinks up.
Given that a career in arts is the not-so-typical desi path, what sort of a reaction have you gotten from your family?
SP: I have to say, I am blessed with the most incredible family. My parents have always supported whatever I’ve wanted to do - valuing my happiness before anything else. They have so much blind faith in me. I make impulsive life decisions based on gut feelings - dropping majors, picking-up new ones, chasing dreams, moving across the country without a job, leaving jobs without a plan, etc. - and they roll with everything I hit them with. And honestly their support is what makes me feel invincible to taking the risks necessary to find each of my paths. My brothers and sister-in-laws are also huge fans. They constantly encourage me, support me, and tell me they’re proud of what I’m doing. I am aware that this is the best-case scenario, and not a very common one, so I am very, very fortunate and forever grateful for them.
Can you tell us about your first piece?
SP: This is a tough one as I’m not quite sure what my first piece was. My first post on Instagram was just a simple message that said ‘Chal let’s do this’. I created it almost as a message to myself, but also as a piece of inspiration for anyone to just do whatever it was they wanted or needed to. A short and powerful motivational statement.
Your art seems to be timely and in tune with a lot of social messages. Is that your intention or is it just a coincidence?
SP: I think there’s just naturally a piece of me in all of my posts. The way I think, feel, my sense of humor, etc. I create things that resonate with me - and since I generally try to keep up with what’s going on in the world and feel certain ways about issues - it’s not surprising that it shows up in my work. But for the most part, I think all of us are so angry, frustrated and just exhausted about a lot of the things going on in the world that I aim to make Paper Samosa a place for people to escape for a moment and enjoy a smile.
Your posts seem to have made quite a mark on the 'gram. Was that your original hope when you started Paper Samosa? If not, what was your original hope?
SP: It’s truly incredible to see. It was a hope to create something that would resonate with people and they would hopefully enjoy, but I wasn’t expecting anywhere close to the amount of love that I have received. It’s unreal. I’ve said it before but I truly mean it, it inspires me to keep on creating and making.
What (or who) do you get your inspiration from? (besides samosas)
SP: I get my inspiration from my life. I find it all around me - from being at home, from the conversations I have, from the things I see around me and from the experiences I have in my day-to-day.
How much time do you spend each day/week dedicated to creating new Paper Samosa art?
SP: I find and collect inspiration throughout the day and am continuously jotting them down. When I sit down to execute each idea, that’s when I’ll work out all the details (what it will look like/what it will say exactly). Most posts takes between 3-9 hours to execute once I have the idea.
Any future plans for Paper Samosa?
SP: I’m not really sure. Most of Paper Samosa’s evolution has been one thing organically inspiring the next. So I never quite know what’s coming next until I’m creating it. ☺
What is your advice to fellow creative sistas (or bros) on pursuing art as a career?
SP: I’d be lying if I said I have figured out how to make a living off of art haha, but I strongly, strongly encourage anyone who is passionate about anything, whether it be art or not art, to give that passion the attention it deserves. We give ourselves a lot of excuses, but I think it’s important to make and dedicate time to anything that really means something to you.