Alifiya Padghawala On Being An Artist In Transit + Feminism In Mumbai

Alifiya Padghawala sees the world for its beauty. She is a creative in every sense of the word. When she isn’t creating her own original art and photography, she’s traveling around India and exploring different cultures and experiences. She’s an inspiration to go beyond your own front door step to absorb the beauty in the world around you. We got a chance to interview Alifiya about her creative passions, favorite travel spots and more. So let’s get into it!

Name: Alifiya Padghawala

Currently residing: Mumbai, India

Occupation: An artist and interior designer, but also starting out as a content creator.

IG Handle: @artistintransit_

Can you start by telling us a little about yourself?

I am a 22-year-old artist and an interior designer from India. I like to use my immense love for aesthetics to create beautiful and pretty things across all mediums. I am very enthusiastic as a person. I love to travel and if you had to associate my personality with a pop-cult television character, I’d say Monica Geller.

Do you have any creative hobbies?

A BIG yes to this. I am creative in and out because I’m someone who has been inclined to art since childhood. I have always loved to draw and paint. I do not follow a particular style of art and work on any idea that fascinates and inspires me. I have also developed a huge interest in photography and immensely enjoy capturing photos, especially while traveling to new places, or simply exploring my own city. The entire process of getting that one perfect shot is extremely enjoyable and the end result feels highly rewarding.

What does a typical day look like for you?

I am currently pursuing work in my chosen field, that of interior designing. I’ve also recently started on an internship as a digital media intern with a travel company. My work with them involves creating travel content, managing the company’s social media handles and increasing audience engagement. When I am not working on that, I use the time to create my own content, which includes creating flatlays for my art and also curating them along with my travel photographs. It takes a lot of time, not just for me but for a lot of creators I’m sure, because I have to decide what goes where and how so that it all fits together in one piece. It’s a long process, but I enjoy it a lot. When I am not working, I spend time learning. Doing online courses, I’ve realized, adds immense value to my knowledge in the field I plan on working in—they largely add to my skill set as a designer. There are so many things that keep me occupied throughout the day, and I love being so busy and productive that there’s never a complaint leaving my mouth.

We just wrapped up our August theme “Embrace Your Weird.” What does that mean to you and how do you celebrate your individuality?

The first thing that pops up in my mind when I think about this is how endearing it is when my friends act in a certain way, which seems weird or unruly for them and apologize for acting differently. To a larger extent, I feel everyone thinks of themselves as being weird but they take it in a negative light. This shouldn’t be the case because for me, when it comes to celebrating individuality and embracing your weird, I believe that each of us become who we choose to be from the experiences we have, the ideas we believe in, the impressions that have left a mark, the people we meet and the moments and memories we make along the way. With time, each element is refined, replaced and polished. That is how we grow. And to celebrate my individuality, I would do it simply by embracing myself as the person I am and letting go of all my self-doubt.

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Do you like to read? What are your all-time favorite books?

Yes, I love to read books. If I had to pick an all-time favorite, I would say Harry Potter, but I really enjoy books from the suspense and thriller genre. To be honest, I would enjoy reading any book that keeps me engaged. The last book I read was The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. It speaks about a great Indian epic, called the The Mahabharata, and is written from the point of view of the female protagonist from the epic. It gives the story a completely new feminine perspective and it is very impactful and strong.

Currently listening to? 

I watched the Netflix series “La casa de Papel” a few months ago and I am completely hooked to it. A couple of songs that I listened to in the series are very beautiful and I love the music. One of my favorites is “Days Like This” by Van Morrison and “Broken Coastline” by Down like Silver. I am also currently listening to songs from the movie “Aladdin” on repeat. Apart from these, I immensely enjoy listening to Hindi music as well.

Where do you find creative inspiration?

I find inspiration from a lot of places. There are so many talented content creators that I follow on Instagram who are posting wonderful content. I take a lot of inspiration from them and on occasion set their posts on social media as a base for my creation. I also draw inspiration from Pinterest, although there are times when I feel a burst of creative energy and I’m filled with a desire to ideate. I always make it a point to write down any idea that comes to my mind (I also love making lists), so I can refer and refine them later when I sit to work.

What does style mean to you? Do you have a particular look or uniform you stick with?

To me, style is anything and everything that resonates with my personality and that makes me feel good and confident in being myself. It’s a way of personal expression; of telling who you truly are. Your style should be your comfort zone. If you ask me about a particular look that I stick to, I would say I always have a rather minimalistic approach when choosing what to wear. So, pastel colors and semi-casual outfits are my go-to #OOTD looks. A pair of long earrings with it, bring the zing in it on occasion. Also, a white top/shirt with blue jeans and a belt are always a YES.

Do you like to cook? What’s your go-to recipe?

I do not cook a lot, but when I do, I spend some time going through YouTube tutorials and I try my hand at a recipe that I find most inviting. I really liked this recipe I tried a while ago called Peri Peri pull-out bread and I can proudly say it was delicious! I have already made it twice in a month and it’s easily making its way in my comfort food list.

What do you always have in your fridge?

I love sweets and desserts. You could always find something sweet in the fridge, like custard or cake or ice cream or just plain old chocolate. You could also find a lot of different sauces because we (me and my younger brother) love experimenting with them in our food.

Do you like to travel? Any favorite places you have visited? Any on your wish list? 

I LOVE to travel. I was bitten by the travel bug when I was very little, thanks to my father who I share my love with for the same. Exploring new cities, getting to know about all types of cultures and traditions, meeting new people, brings out the child in me who looks at the world in wonder. I believe that travel is the one thing that gives you a new experience every step of the way and I want to experience it all enough to have beautiful stories to tell. I have a long wish list of the cities I wish to travel to but if I have to pick the top three, I would say Paris, Greece and Istanbul.

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What does self-care look like for you?

Listening to music is my go-to self-therapy, I’d say. From loud energetic songs to soft happy songs, both make me feel positive and relaxed. A hot shower after a long day is another form of self-care I indulge in as I take that time to introspect on my day and thoughts. Skincare routines are also something I indulge in. I do not use any products, just traditional, homemade concoctions that my Maa suggests and they work great for me. A yoga or a workout routine is something that I am yet to become consistent in. I’ve taken it up a few times and it does fill me with a lot of positive energy.

Are there any causes or movements that you’re particularly passionate about?

Feminism for sure. Whether you are a man or a woman, there are a number of stereotypes and prejudices that govern our behavior in so many situations. But, it is no secret that a lot of inequalities still persist for women and remains a highlighted issue in so many societies and cultures. Coming from a patriarchal society myself, I find it so irksome to think that these stereotypes are considered as normal or rather ‘obvious’. So much so that the traditional ideologies of the people in the society do not change and to bring about a change takes an effort extremely humongous. I recently heard a Spanish/French song called “No es No” by Itziar Ituno and Anne Etchegoyen that talks about feminism and I found it very impressive with a strong impact.

Anything exciting on the horizon for you?

Not at the moment, but I am excited and happy that the content I post on social media is opening doors to new opportunities. That is how I got the digital media internship offer, too! The lockdown due to the pandemic has definitely been a good time to experiment and explore new options and I am really excited to start working toward it.

Favorite quote?

“A million dreams are keeping me awake” and “Thoughts become things” by Rhonda Byrne. I am someone who can easily feel overwhelmed when things go south. So, when I am low on self-esteem or feel a lack of direction and need a boost-up, I think about the first quote and then about all the things that keep me going and the things I wish to accomplish. I also have a tattoo on my arm that says ‘miles to go.’ Although in this process, I sometimes tend to become impatient and anxious when I think about the second quote, since I believe that our thoughts and dreams will eventually become a reality. When you know it in your heart, that you are going forward, you will work toward achieving it, come what may.

Thank you Alifiya! Connect with her on Instagram.

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Author: Samantha Welker

Samantha Welker is the business manager at Glitter Guide. She has an Master's in Corporate Finance & Sustainability from Harvard Business School but prefers working in the creative industry. She also hosts a weekly business podcast for creative women called Pretty Okay Podcast. She loves spending time with her husband and her son, Rocky, in sunny San Diego. Follow along on Instagram