Sold on a pattern of work

Updated: Apr 27 2008, 06:08am hrs
Henna for him is beyond just peacocks and paisleys. It is colours, crystals and oodles of inspiration stored in a cone beauty expressed each time while taking smart turns on palms, shoulders and faces. Whats so special you may ask. But, thanks to Ash Kumar, 27, henna now finds a place in the Guinness Book of World Records. His maiden record came at the age of 24 with him painting 96 henna armbands in an hour. The record too was smashed with 167 armbands in an hour thats one arm band every 18 seconds by him in three years. This UK-based graduate in forensic sciences now earns thousands of dollars putting his henna signature on people. And thanks to his special artistry, he now has clients like Swarovski and Nike too. Jyoti Verma

Tell us about your schedule, practice hours, etc. How has art paid you back

There are no strict hours that are allocated towards me practising the art daily. In fact, I try to take fewer assignments so that I can do less and think more. I plan the art in different settings, take the briefs from people and companies I am working with, ask myself questions, and let the thoughts flow. As people gain inspirations from different things, mine is from my love of Indian music. I sit and listen to music and almost like people doodling, I come up with designs. Im in a trance-like state then. At times, an assignment makes me think for 12 days. But, to date the process has worked in arts and my favour. And thanks to my art, I am in Mumbai now to create bespoke designs for Swarovskis Runway Rocks catwalk show. Roughly, my personal appointments comprise just 8% of my henna application business.

You have no formal training in the subject, but today run an academy to promote the art form. How have you worked this out

I became interested in mehendi at an early age when I used to sit and watch my mother and her friends spending hours creating designs on their hands. Inspired by this, I travelled to India to learn the art. Henna is a responsibility for me today.

You have a clientele ranging from Julia Roberts to Deepika Padukone, from Aamir Khan to Ranbir Kapoor. How is it like to serve the two different film worlds

Hollywood, I would say is better, as many people there dont understand the art much. They admire your creativity. In India, the story is different as people here know more about the art. Here, I have to prove my talent with good work, quality and appeal.

Every art form requires experimentation and value additions. How have you grown in your field

I am doing a lot with colours and crystals, besides listening to my inner self. Most of my experiments with henna have done well. But, at times these turn into fiascos. I remember trying coloured mehendi on hair. It was a disaster.

Tell us about your corporate clients.

I am now moving to more corporate designs. There is a CD cover that I have done for Universal Studios, besides working on some designs for Fly Emirates in-flight entertainment, and interiors for their first-class cabins. I have also designed Nikes summer 2008 T-shirts for the National Football Teams of Brazil and India.