Creator Spotlight: Harkiran Kalsi

Gratitude has reached its final destination! Now open in London, the touring installation of 51 artist-designed statues honours NHS staff and key workers for their sacrifice and dedication. It’s a cause that’s very dear to us too, so we’re excited to have our own statue in the exhibition.

To celebrate the Gratitude’s tour through cities in the UK, we’ve been talking to some of our card Creators in each location. This time it’s the turn of London’s Harkiran Kalsi – who also has a statue in the exhibition! We’ve asked a few questions to find out more about her, and what she’s feeling grateful for in 2021.

Tell us a little bit about yourself

My names Harkiran or Harky for short. My business started as a side hustle when I moved to London, but after working in permanent jobs for over a decade I went freelance in 2017. This allowed me to focus on selling my illustrations, commissions, as well as working for different clients as a graphic designer too. 

What is your most popular design? And which is your favourite?

My most popular design is ‘Birthday Love And Hugs On Your Special Day’ and my favourite is ‘I Really Really Really Really Love You’. My love language is OTT, and it is exactly how I show love.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

I am inspired by so many things, but a lot of my work is based around emotive words. I love quotes, books, poetry, music. I am constantly thinking so a lot comes from how I would write a card and send it to someone. I love Pinterest too, that’s such a great source to find colours and see trends. 

What made you decide to sell through thortful?

The lovely Emma from thortful DM’d me saying I should sell my cards through thortful but I was overthinking on what the designs should be. A few months after, I spoke to my friend Dina who’s also a thortful Creator and she gave me the final push to just go for it. I’m so glad I did because I’m amazed at how well they’re doing. Thank you to both Emma and Dina. 

What advice would you give to other creatives starting up?

Creativity is a process of highs and lows. Many want a style immediately, but this takes a while to build up, so explore your craft, do what you love and put work out there. Once you find your flow, it is one of the best career paths you can go down. I never feel like this is a job, each day is so exciting. 

What does it mean to you to be a part of Gratitude?

In 2015, I set myself a challenge around ‘gratitude’ to letter what I was thankful for each day. This is how my lettering style came to life. I started this to help me explore creatively and for my mental health. I was struggling, and needed to see the good in each day. Now in 2021, painting a sculpture for Gratitude feels like a ‘meant to be’ moment and it means a lot to help raise funds for NHS Charities Together. I don’t think there will ever be enough thank you’s for the sacrifice health workers make. 

What are you most grateful for?

I’m so grateful to live out my dream of illustrating. I am South Asian and, in my culture, we’re told not to pursue the arts as it’s not considered a ‘real job’ but my mum, who was a teacher in India and was very creative, saw my talent. She pushed me to work hard because of the comments I’d get in pursuing this path. It never stopped me because she was always by my side. For her I am grateful.

What are you feeling grateful for in 2021? We think most of us are feeling grateful for the hard work of our NHS staff, and that’s the inspiration behind Gratitude.

The exhibition is open at London’s Southwark Cathedral until 10 October. For more information and to book your free tickets, visit the Gratitude website.

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