Article Independence

Taking the road less travelled

Many individuals have found a different kind of independence, after taking the road less travelled, after proceeding along an offbeat career path, which gave them success and the freedom they wanted. Carving an unusual career path of one’s own requires determination and consistency of purpose. In the following passages, six such strong personalities, who have turned their dream careers into realities and have found independence as a result, share their experiences and advice, for those who wish to take the road less travelled, just as they did.

Kaytee: salsa dancer, enthusiast and trainer

Former hip-hop and jazz dancer, salsa virtuoso Kaytee’s love for salsa began in 2000 in Japan in a salsa club, where he saw some Latinos and Japanese dancing. He went to Los Angeles and New York later on to study the dance form and, upon his return, taught salsa in India.

Salsa to Kaytee is a culture: “Salsa is social and it breaks the ice. It has lively jazz music, romance; it is not destructive, and it awakens your sensuality and sensitivity as a human being.”

His dance academies in Delhi and Bombay are known as Salsa India, and the one in Rome is known as K-Style. Kaytee is settled in Italy now and reasons: “There is a lot of work and healthy competition and exposure in Europe for salsa.”

Being a full-time salsa dancer and trainer, Kaytee also performs at festivals in Poland, Spain, Turkey, Italy and Germany, where he and his team promote their work internationally. People of all nationalities from different cultural backgrounds come to him to learn salsa. He works across the globe and gains bookings a year in advance. Kaytee is now an ambassador and promoter of different dance festivals around the world.

Advising salsa enthusiasts, Kaytee is generous: “To survive in this profession, you have to be really good at it. Increase your knowledge about the art form and be passionate about it. You need to be honest, humble and hard-working. Aspirants need to listen to music, be educated about music and, finally, dance to express and not impress.”

Sameer Patange: tattoo artist and entrepreneur

Sameer’s passion for his profession began 15 years ago, as an apprentice to Dr Kohiyar. After working in the south of Mumbai for five years with clients, he met Sunil Shetty at a shoot, who introduced him to the idea of creating a hair and tattoo venture. Today, Sameer owns tattoo design studios such as Kraayonz in Bandra and other parts of the country and has an A-list clientèle.

“Newcomers come to me every day for jobs. Being a visualiser is most important and if your profession is your passion, you can make your living out of it”, he says.

His favourite tattoo designs are from two genres, Realism, his forte, and trash polka, a new form. Speaking of his career so far, he says: “It has been an up and down journey for me. Since tattooing was a radical profession earlier, it was hard for people to accept me at first, because I was writing and painting on people’s bodies. But slowly I received recognition in the industry, and became one of India’s topmost artists. Perceptions then changed.”

Also a graphic and commercial designer by education, Sameer advises aspirants candidly. “Tattooing is a foreign culture. It is a newly adapted western form of art and you never know how long it will last as an industry. You must have a back-up plan, a more professional career alongside. Also, first translate expression on paper, practise, then translate that expression on skin, or else it will come back to bite you and hurt your client!”

Mark Seltman: palmist and character analyst

After experiencing a series of business setbacks in his late 20s, Mark Seltman visited expert astrologers in New York City and decided to study the subject, which led him to palmistry and tarot. He has been practising palmistry for more than 30 years now and is an illustrious name in the field.

Mark sees hands as topographical maps of one’s past, present and future, and empowering tools to confirm, affirm and transform one’s thinking and destiny. Mark uses astrology and tarot to complement his palmistry work. “Palmistry is best for understanding basic character. I use astrology for understanding patterns, timing and life cycles. Tarot is best for unconscious matters”, he says.

Enlightening us on the professional and financial possibilities of palmistry, he says: “I am the only palmist I know who has a full-time palmistry career. I can thrive because I am in New York City and because I work at corporate special events, where I give five-minute readings. I also have a private clientele, write about palmistry, sometimes give workshops and get paid for speaking. I don’t recommend making a career out of palmistry unless you can hold out for several years in order to become established. If you don’t like to sell yourself, don’t go into palmistry.”

Advising palmistry students, he says: “If you can’t be helpful or give hope to people, don’t say anything. Practise what you preach. Never predict anyone’s death. Explore other disciplines like astrology, numerology and tarot as they share the same mythology. Never stop learning.”

Tina Dehal: photographer

Tina Dehal has been a photographer for 18 years now, a medium she studied abroad. She used to write screenplays in school, and, when writing them, thought of them in a very visual format, which she later on translated into reality through photography.

She defines photography uniquely, saying: “For some, it is treasured memories, for others, it is creating dreams and stories. But today, there are two ways of looking at it. It has either been destroyed as an art form, with all the gadgets and applications, or it has grown as an art form, in every man’s, woman’s or child’s hands. To me, photography is still film and darkrooms.”

Speaking on the professional aspects of photography, she says: “Honestly, today anyone that can afford a decent digital camera wants to be a photographer. Auto settings and Instagram don’t make one a photographer. Learn. If you have some free years and parents to support you, give it a shot.”

Describing her career so far, she says: “It has been an amazing journey and every few years, I have to push the boundaries. Even during the last few years, after my baby was born, I have learnt new techniques, and introduced myself to new equipment.”

Tina has important words of advice for photography enthusiasts: “Pick up a camera and play with it. Learn to take some pictures by mistake. Try and figure out exactly what kind of photography it is you want to do. Observe lighting, from images you like. Do not be afraid to take your work out there.”

DJ Suketu: disc jockey

A disc jockey par excellence, DJ Suketu, has been DJing for the past 16 years. His love for disc jockeying started at the age of 17, during his first year of junior college, when he saw DJ Whosane perform at one of his college shows for the first time.

Defining disc jockeying, he says: “It is the art of mixing music and tracks in such a way, so as to take the crowd through a journey of dance and music, using technology and creativity.”

Revealing his favourite remix albums, he says: “Well, I have five remix albums to my name and have done various remixes for films in the past eight years. My favourite tracks, which I have remixed, are Pyar Zindagi Hai, Kya Khoob Lagti Ho, Woh Lamhe, Toh Phir Aao and my recent Dilbar Mere, Gulabi Aankhen from my album, DJ Suketu & Friends present RD Burman Reinvented.”

Clarifying opportunities available for disc jockeys, he says: “Disc jockeying is a very lucrative career option, monetarily and professionally. But like all other careers one takes on, you have to work hard and be creative. I would describe my career as a DJ, as the best 16 years of my life.”

He advises aspiring disc jockeys honestly: “Be true to music and get into this profession completely. The rest will follow. Become a DJ because you like the profession and you live music. Not because it is cool or any other adjectives that go along.”

Ciro Marchetti: Illustrator

Ciro’s exclusive love for drawing and painting began from his earliest years, attending elementary school. Post schooling, he considers himself very fortunate to have been taught by a very progressive art teacher, Owen Frampton, father of the musician Peter Frampton. “Through his encouragement and guidance I qualified for art college and graduated with a BA in art and design.”

Beyond the tarot and oracle cards genre, he has had a professional career in design, producing illustrations for various corporate clients. “I also have a representative in London who licenses my work for reproduction on jigsaw puzzles, posters, etc.”, he says.

His exquisite tarot decks are his favourites: “The tarot genre is quite unique in that the imagery transcends mere visual decoration, communication or storytelling, and becomes an item with which people connect and respond to in a very spiritual way.”

Speaking on the profession’s financial possibilities, he shares: “Well, it certainly can be lucrative and I am happy to say it has proved to be for me. However, I wouldn’t feel comfortable in recommending it without the caveat of clarifying that like all other careers, financial reward is subjective and also dependent on luck and hard work.”

Advising illustration aspirants, Ciro says: “I would advise budding illustrators of the future to constantly try and improve, never stop learning. There are many resources available on the internet to see what other illustrators are doing. Use that as a reference point to learn from, be inspired by and compare your own progress to.”

These six wonderful personalities are a few of the many guiding lights for those who wish to pursue something of their own, inspiring them to follow a course that gives them a sense of accomplishment and independence.

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Picture Credit: Kaytee Namgyal

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