Nagaraja is a gifted artist. He and his wife, Ms Shylaja create arts, paintings, murals, water fountain, furniture and other interesting works at Claynest. His life and career did not start as rosy as it seems now. He was a PUC dropout, quit college and started working in a grocery shop. On the sidelines, he did his father’s automobile component business as well for an year. It was not a flourishing business. His father’s clients were small auto component shop owner in small towns and panchayats around Bangalore. He used to tour to small towns carrying hand loads of auto components, stay there for few days to sell them. As he recalls, life was difficult.
Nagaraja joined IMRB, a market research organization. After working there for over 3 years, one day he interviewed an artist. The artist mentioned about the a college for art in Bangalore. As the artist spoke, Nagaraja’s mind started imagining about the sculptures, art and everything at the college. Nagaraja then found his passion. At age 24, he joined Chitrakala Parishath in Bangalore to learn art. It was a 5 years degree program. He told his parents that it is only 3 years course to get approval to join the course. Nagaraja continued working with IMRB to support himself. He also did his 2 year Masters degree in Sculptures.
Nagaraja was very clear from day 1 to become an independent artist. He struggled for a while doing odd art jobs. In 2000, he started Claynest. Now, there are over 15 artist associated with Claynest and 8 people supporting production work. Till date, Claynest has made and installed over 2000 Wall Murals and 250 Water Fountains. One can see Claynest’s Cement sculptures in many prominent traffic islands such as Chalukya circle, Cantonment circle in Bangalore.
Nagaraja is passionate about his work that his sculptures come alive. It is one thing that distinguishes him from other artists. Next thing is his acumen. He is a rare combination of an artist at heart and a shrewd business man at mind. He once made a statue of a Prophet for the Church. The father could not believe that level of detail and aliveness of the sculpture, he places continuous order even after many years now. He recalls his experience of taking a physical face mold of one of the the Chief minister. He went to CM’s house, applied the material on the face of the CM to make a realistic mold that was later used to make face masks.
Nagaraja’s teacher at Chitrakala Parishath once told him that, people easily invest in many things such as land, building and other material possessions. But when they buy an art work, their heart is pure and the artist has to do justice to that person who buys it. Nagaraj has taken this advice to heart and we can see his work do the talking. He uses the best quality fiber, PU paints and materials to make sure that the art is best not just in looks but also in the material quality. Claynest does Murals, Sculptures, Paintings, Wall panels, Water Fountains, Furniture and anything that you can imagine. Fiber Reinforced Polymer(FRP) is the media that Nagaraja loves to work with. He has found the right proportion and composition of FRP to get the quality, malleability and longevity intact. When we met Nagaraja, he was designing a “Melting Chair”, chair that looks like melting and flowing down and outdoor furniture that looks like large pebbles.
Nagaraja’s vision is to help other artists by bringing them together to a open platform and market their products to larger art lovers not just in India, but across the world.