Sketching away to success

Sitting at the counter of his computer sales shop in Phuentsholing, Manzil Lama responds to the queries of his customers who frequent him now and then. And as soon as they are gone, he is busy again – holding a pen and staring carefully on a paper before him.

A rim of papers and a set of pens have been spread across the table before him. Selecting a particular pen he then sets his eyes and hands on the sketch. He then starts playing with the pens on the paper and when he is done, he flaunts an art piece where he recreates iconic sketch of famous personalities or sceneries.

An entrepreneur by profession, Manzil Lama, 32, started running his father’s computer institute after graduation from Bangalore in India with a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Application. However, after selling the institute, he started a computer sales business in the heart of Phuentsholing town.

It was only two years ago that Manzil Lama had developed his interest in fine arts with his vision to do something distinct. It was also that time he discovered his calling as an artist. He started sketching with the hope of doing and getting better the following days. And it happened to him in fact. Each passing days, he had started to sketch better arts.

“It was my belief and hard work that paid me well,” says the self-taught artist. Today, Manzil Lama spends his free time by sketching fine art, from which he earns more than Nu 15,000 per sketch.

However, things weren’t easy as it appeared. Without any basics of art in school and college, Manzil Lama once thought he could not master in his new prospect. His daily perfection on the work was the right encouragement and inspiration that pushed him further to work.

“I have started this work very late, but I believed in myself. I was only left with this small business,” he says. Within two years, Manzil Lama has completed around 300 final art pieces, excluding the rough sketches. Now he works on different forms of art like paper sketch, painting on canvass, landscape painting, fine art and pointillism.

He says he is thankful to his teacher, who recognized his growing talents and started grooming him, but not professionally. “He has really encouraged me to reach here,” he says.

And though Manzil Lama never takes art as a source of earning, it is his dream to excel in it without earning. He aims to become a recognized artist some day and even represent the country in the international level.

“Let everyone know that there are some good artists in Bhutan too,” he says with a giggle.

Manzil Lama has also received numerous offers to participate in art exhibitions, which he firmly denies accepting his limitations and with the urge to outclass further. He believes that the sponsors take the credit after paying certain amount for his work which he is not fond of.

Now, Manzil Lama is working to develop a realistic 3D art with his pen. He has sold his normal sketch for up to Nu 15,000 per piece. He spends more than three months to complete 3D art (pointillism) using a micro pen. The art, which he considers the toughest, is completed using dots from the pens which cost around Nu 2,000 per set of three pens. He plans to specialize on pointillism using his creativity.

“I will one day take Bhutan’s image to next level in art,” he says. Manzil Lama spends around six hours a day on his art. “I sometimes work late night at home after dinner,” he says. He says he never feels distracted due to his focus to work on his work. “I manage with the customers and my art,” he says. He sees himself as a competitor reflecting his past art works.

.    Manzil Lama still believes that his talent in art has come as a surprise. “I have never imagined being an artist until I started working on it,” he says, adding that it has come after an intricate environment without a decent job. “I can see many unemployed youth who are desperate for jobs. But they can take art as a form of job if they believe in themselves and invest much hard work,” Manzil says, attending to another customer who frequent his shop. He has also given basic coaching classes to more than 10 willing students, whose works have been recognized in their colleges.

“If we really want to reach any destination, we have to move on facing every obstacle,” he says.

Accepting his customer’s request for photocopying service, Manzil Lama heads towards his machine leaving his micro pen on his unfinished art work. “I am balancing. You see,” he says with a smile.

Krishna Ghalley from Phuentsholing