INKA boasts of a team that is small, but symbiotic in each way. Our artisans are skilled, patient creators, working in coordination to bring exquisite visions of design to life. INKA’s products are made to last: both in physicality and sentiment, and this prerogative belongs with the artisans: all of whom produce each product from scratch, slowly, sincerely within the walls of INKA’s workshops.
Ateeq Ur Rahman
I have been block printing for 35 years now, since I was a little boy. In Farooqabad, where I’m from, this is the tradition. But slowly it has begun to disappear. It made me sad to see that, just because the work is hard, it doesn’t mean people should stop doing it. Here, I am happy to say that is not the case. The block - this is the centre of INKA, everyone in the team, at all levels, all people really feel close to the art. When you see it happen, you see the beauty of it. The layers that it brings it not possible in other ways of printing - screen and machine print. As a craftsman here, I believe I get my dues, I am given the space to work and to breathe. And so we are able to create unique, lasting products. Each thing made by hand is different - because the block printer takes a bit of himself or herself onto the block. So that way, this can never be done on a machine. INKA understands the value of the craftsman. Which is why I work here.
Ajju/ Shahid Ali
I’m from Banaras, and this runs in my family. It’s a family business, and I’ve been watching people do it since I was a little boy. So those are the ways I learned initially, it’s a hard art, it requires both thought and discipline. When I arrived at INKA, my work flourished, I’m given lots of responsibility both conceptually and to handle the products. And it’s good to see that you can apply something traditional to a modern medium. Raise awareness about it. I’m young, and craft is always associated with “oldness”. At INKA, it proves that it doesn’t have to be like that. As time moves, craft can move too.
I first learned to block print when I was 15 years old, more than 45 years ago. So you would think I am bored! But I am not. I hate sitting down, and being lazy, the craft keeps me on my toes. You could say this is my work, and in a way it is, because it feeds me and my family — but it is also what I love to do. How many people can say that? I think that is what makes art different, when the people creating love what they do. And here at INKA, we are given access to all parts of the process, we are given decision making powers, asked about colours, which is an important part of the process. The colors and the layering make a lot of difference. We also work altogether, and enjoy it so days pass easily. We are not creating products, these fabrics that we print, these are not objects, they are alive.
Mohammad Saleem Ansari
I remember learning in Farooqabad as a young boy, it was easy for me. Maybe because when you are surrounded by something then you quickly learn it. But as I learned, I also understood the value of the craft. How something is valuable when it is done slowly, thoughtfully, sadly not many people think that way. We live in a world in which speed is considered everything, quantity is preferred, but at INKA, each thing is paid attention to - by us, and by everyone involved. For example, in the Guldasta collection, there are so many colours, and each one has to be paid attention to. But this is what makes our work worth it! Also knowing that not anyone can do what we do. There are not many block printers left. It is urgent to keep this art alive.
I am not from a traditional family of block printers, but here everyone treats me as one of their own, and they teach me well and slowly. That is the different thing about INKA, it is not a factory, it is a workshop. The designers and others - they have a modern outlook, which they bring to the craftsmen, who then take their knowledge to them. It is an exchange and a collaboration. Also, it makes a different that each step is done here. I like that - it makes me happy to know that we are all involved in the creation of each pillow, or cushion that is made here. They are beautiful, of course, but in that way, they also mean something real.