Taxi Fabric – Turning the city’s public transport into moving art galleries

Posted on 12 October, 2015 by Team Wishberry

For artists, the whole world is a canvas. So, why should their creativity remain limited to art galleries and Instagram alone? Living up to this exact notion is one artist, who gave Mumbai’s iconic taxis and auto-rickshaws some major art attack. Sanket Avlani, the founder of Taxi Fabric, tells us all about his unique, exciting and much-needed project, and how he made it possible.

  Mumbai keeps having art fests, where every year the iconic yellow-black cab is given a funky makeover. But, providing a platform for local designers to showcase their art on the interiors of a cab, that’s not been done before.  Sanket: Living in Mumbai, taxis are not only my most frequent mode of transport but also something I spend major hours of my day in. Being a designer, it was my basic instinct to just brighten up everything around me. Soon, I began to unintentionally document this in my blogs. The idea for Taxi Fabric began as a plan to add more depth to the things around me. From an idea, to a dream, it has now transformed to a broad project and it continues to grow.         You chose to crowdfund Taxi Fabric, and received an incredible response. Was it expected? Share your crowdfunding experience with us. Sanket: If I have to put it in one word, I'll say that crowdfunding was difficult. Mostly because it was the first time I tried something like this. However, to make matters easier, I studied a lot about it, spoke to numerous creative people who have successfully crowdfunded, and even used all possible tools to promote my campaign. But when you start the crowdfunding campaign, it pretty much takes over your life. Following the guidelines provided by the crowdfunding platform did help a lot. A good PR strategy goes a long way, which was our saviour as it helped us reach our goal. I realized that people will only support a project if they feel connected with the idea. The whole culture of giving towards art is not flourished in India yet. I’ve grown and learnt so much from this experience and I would do it all over again.       Kunel Gaur’s design – ‘A century of Revolt’- is simply brilliant, and beautifully reminiscent of the Sistine Chapel. Almost all designs tell a story. Who decides what is to be communicated – the designer or the team?  Sanket: Initially, the guide that we provided to the designers used to be extremely broad. As the taxis are from Mumbai, the designer could take up anything that captures the essence of the city. Later, we realised our crowdfunding campaign was about to end around the Independence Day and we wanted to do something special. Hence we had Kunel’s piece launch right after collaborating with a Pakistani graphic designer for the Pakistani Independence day. And the outcome was so beautiful that we were compelled to share a story with every design. Also, even the driver whose taxi was being revamped could relate to the art as he had an uncle who was a freedom fighter.
  What has been the most challenging aspect of this project so far?  Sanket: When I first wanted to work on this, I realised it’s not going to be easy finding the right people, the best fabric, printers, partners, etc. It almost took me a year to get a clearer picture of where this idea was heading. Also, since the project was very ‘made-to-order’, not many people who printed high quality work were ready to do these small jobs. Translating the graphic designers' works from the desktop screen to something tangible was one of the bigger challenges that we faced. However, because the project took this long, we never faced problems finding taxis who wanted to undergo the makeover as we’ve been in talks with the union since forever.
    Taxi Fabric is a fabulous outlet for designers to showcase their skills. This, clearly, is an idea that deserves to go places! Do you have any plans for expansion? Sanket: Thanks! We certainly will expand. We do have a short term plan for making this bigger- the first step towards this will be incorporating more stories in our designs. We also are in the midst of talks with regards to taking Taxi Fabric to another city. In terms of ambition, the rickshaw is definitely our first step in preparing for our expansion.

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