“I wanted to speak to our generation and celebrate our unique makeup of traditional and contemporary, Indian and Western, Bhangra and hip hop.” – Simmi Patel, @paper.samosa
Simmi Patel is the artist and creator behind Instagram account @paper.samosa. She illustrates drawing and comics relevant to Desi culture and has gained massive popularity within the South Asian community. Here’s what she had to say about her artistic process and the inspiration behind her work.
What inspired you to become an artist and start @paper.samosa?
Paper Samosa was something that started out as a fun creative outlet for myself. After writing for brands and learning their voices and styles I had a deep craving to create without limits and reconnect with my own style – uninterrupted. I leaned into Indian culture when I realized I wanted there to be more cool stuff for us – the generation that is a mixed blend of Indian and Western upbringing. With my background in writing and general love for word-play and humor, I challenged myself to create pieces that would twist and play with both cultures in a way that was unique, light-hearted, colorful and fun. I wanted to speak to our generation and celebrate our unique makeup of traditional and contemporary, Indian and Western, Bhangra and hip hop. I wanted to create pieces that would truly represent us.
How do you typically get ideas for each piece?
I get my inspiration from my life. I find it all around me – from being at home, from the conversations I have, from the things I see around me and from the experiences I have in my day-to-day.
Are there any creators or works (movies, music, etc.) that inspire you?
I’d say my work is heavily rooted in current-events along with Indian and Western pop-culture – inspired by the things that have had some sort of impact on me.
What has been the biggest learning curve or challenge you’ve faced?
I’d say it was figuring out what I wanted Paper Samosa to be for me. It started out as a creative outlet, but got a little muddy as it started to toe the line of becoming a full-time business. I realized that pushing it as a business just didn’t feel right or good. It took the fun out of it and drained my energy. When I finally realized that, I decided to take all the ‘should’s’ out of it and allowed it to just be a place for me to just be without any expectations of myself. That was where it made me most happy.
Your art has reached hundreds of thousands of people. What messages do you hope to send/what do you hope people get out of your art?
Sometimes I create posts to translate complex ideas into things people can more easily understand. These are usually subjects I feel passionate about and feel are important for people to easily grasp – making it a point to approach these subjects with compassion and understanding. But, for the most part, I think all of us are so angry, frustrated and just exhausted about a lot of the things going on in the world that I aim to make Paper Samosa a place for people to escape for a moment and enjoy a smile.
What has been one of the best experiences you’ve had that has come out of @paper.samosa?
I think my favorite part so far is getting messages or comments from people telling me that a post made their day or that they come to my page when they’re feeling down. It honestly makes my heart feel like it’s swimming in a pile of warm, fluffy puppies.
Do you have a favorite piece that you’ve worked on?
That’s a tough one. I think they’re all like my weird little children – I love them all differently for different reasons.
I love all of your work and have found it really easy to relate to. Representation is so important and you have been a great voice for our community. How has this impacted your connection with our culture?
Knowing there are so many people that may see my posts – it’s important that I’m as well-versed as I can be so that I’m spreading accurate knowledge about our traditions. This means I do quite a bit of research when I’m creating, and that, by default, gives me a deeper and more profound understanding of my culture.
If you could give your younger self any advice about starting this social media account, what would it be?
I don’t think there is any advice I could give that would be helpful. Sometimes you have to let things click for yourself. Instead, I think I would tell her to be easy on herself, to never regret being kind, that her feelings are valid, and to just breathe and enjoy the ride.