Artonabox is well, art on a box. Offering a treat for your blue sky thinking, artonabox explores the Indian matchbox labels and explore and deconstruct them in terms of religion, nation and gender. The Instagram account ‘artonabox’ sees regular post of the quirkiest and most interesting matchboxes, almost always suited with a perfect background ranging from a Chanel handbag to an abandoned warehouse.
We got in touch with Shreya Katuri, the ‘matchbox mistress’ currently pursuing her masters in Boston, Massachusetts and traced with her the beginning, progress and completion of a year of artonabox.
It all began when Shreya, a graduate in the field of Journalism from Kamala Nehru College, New Delhi had to attempt a dissertation as a course requirement and she chose Indian Matchbox Labels. Once submitting her dissertation, she realized how much she missed the research work and free time on her hand led her to indulging in the beauty of matchboxes yet again when she created the Instagram account. Her choice of Instagram was clear, because of the visual vibe that it plays off with the user. ‘artonabox’ also has a Facebook page, which is regularly updates and a Tumblr blog which will soon become very regular.
Before starting the project, I thought they were minimal in design too – that’s one of the pre-conceived notions that I had before starting the project, but I guess it’s just the size that attaches the idea of “minimal” to a matchbox.
Shreya believes that it is all too often for the art on the matchbox to be minimal, raising the examples of boxes with elaborate designs on them like a Dulhan, a Raja, and even a Treasure Chest titled Khazaana, with a crazy amount of detailing on them. However she loves how minimalism has suddenly started to rule the design space and has started to find deeper meaning in all art forms. She encourages us all to be more curious about popular visual culture and its emerging forms, and to create a space for the same. It’s where art, culture, commerce and thought collide – and what’s interesting is that it doesn’t just stop there. It’s like a circle which starts with thought, gets formulated with influenced thought, transitions into a form of art and then again gets passed onto the consumer, ingraining ideas and more thought into their heads.
Shreya primarily operates on her phone, loving the immediacy it allows. She picks the matchbox; chooses her frame, clicks, edits and Instagrams! Finding DSLRs intimidating, she is looking out to collaborate with designers, artists and photographers, videographers and create more content around with higher quality graphic design and picture quality. Her favourite till date is the ‘Jurassic Park’ matchbox and recalls how she found it in a small dhaba in Bihar on her way to Bodh Gaya. She’s also a little biased towards the ones with brands on them, like Snow White, Samsung, Nano etc. because she finds it interesting how globalization has played a huge role in forming these ideas for the designers who decide to create/ print them on a box. In her leisure time, she ventures out to explore art, science and history museums or to absorb the beauty reeking out of the graffiti on the city walls.
Finding Indian matchboxes kitschy in nature, being bright and very entertaining, Shreya finds matchboxes found abroad equally interesting. Indian matchboxes are full of colours, making you want to laugh looking at them, and value them at the same time. They might even have a cheeky poem, which is also found in matchboxes of China. Apart from matchboxes, packaging, vintage boxes make Shreya go weak in the knees. A huge lover of vintage prints, she utterly respects Raja Ravi Varma with all her heart for being our desi Andy Warhol.
The future for artonabox includes diversification in terms of content and covering more areas. With plans to have matchbox merchandise, there’ll also be various posts about the research Shreya’s doing. Apart from that, there is also a big surprise lined up in the future, so be sure to follow artonabox on Instagram, Facebook and Tumblr as you would not want to miss this!
Image Courtesy; https://instagram.com/artonabox/