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I love doodling, I always have. I used to doodle everywhere. All the rear pages of my books used to be messy with my drawings.  Our education system focuses mostly on getting the best out of the students by drilling down their heads and asking them to study hard. A typical career aspiration of parents is to see their kids become an engineer, doctor, CA but not an artist, musician, or farmer. Teachers who guide us towards our career path also were not happy with my hobby of doodling. They did not want me to ruin my career just by being an artist!

I was always very interested in drawing and painting, but in school, my teacher used to ask me to focus more on acquiring an education rather than on drawing. I doodled with fear, not with joy. For an artist, that signals the death of creativity. However I was always pushed by my teachers to participate in school competitions as a worthy representative from the school, but with no encouragement to take my passion to the next level. It was out of my own interest that I appeared for Elementary and Intermediate drawing examinations, which I managed to clear with flying colors. Eventually my interest of sketching started fading out. Every once in a while I would draw but would keep the artwork to myself knowing the fact that it will be tagged as 'waste of time'.

I had this perception that corporate life would mark the end of my little left passion of drawing and I would never come back to reviving this skill set.

That was the time when I got selected for STEP program at ThoughtWorks. ThoughtWorks has a different and distinct culture which came as a pleasant surprise. I was able to express myself freely. At ThoughtWorks, one can sense creativity flowing from within every individual even though they may not necessarily be inclined to art. It can be as simple as optimizing a piece of code or not fearing to do things which are unconventional and not as per industry norms. It was only then that the presumptions I had changed and I was motivated to explore my creative side once again.

Prajakta drawing

One day our mentor Srijayanth Sridhar saw me doodling and was thoroughly impressed. Not only was I appreciated for the art but at the same time encouraged to continue doing what I loved. I enjoyed the cultural shock of being motivated to draw and explore my capabilities further. In addition to the accolades, my mentor suggested the exploration of new genres. He asked me to sketch dragons. In case you are wondering why dragons, there wasn’t much of a rationale really. In hindsight it probably gave my simple doodles a cool shape to rest in! Initially I was little skeptical and nervous but I decided to give it a shot. As I started sketching the lines kept flowing and this newness thrilled me to bits.

An example of my doodle:

   Doodle

Following are a series of dragons I drew: 

Dragons 2

Dragons 3

Then came along the opportunity to showcase my art at the India Away Day (The Away Day is an annual internal conference which all ThoughtWorkers in a region attend) during which a few pieces of my art were sold, the proceeds of which went towards a flood relief fund. Today I am aware about what opportunities that exist. Constructive criticism and constant motivation from my colleagues at ThoughtWorks has got me here.

Being part of ThoughtWorks has helped me explore the capability of both sides of the brain. It helps that I surrounded myself with people who are artistically-inclined. Several ThoughtWorkers are into a variety of art forms - music, art, dance, theatre and the list is long. It’s probably why I found the empathy that allowed me to rediscover a passion that stayed long buried beneath the practicality of finding a ‘regular’ career. It has enhanced me holistically. Today I enjoy sketching as much as writing a piece of code and only good folks at Thoughtworks are to be thanked for it.