Neha Kapil, 24, Minneapolis
Visual artist, fashion designer, beauty vlogger
What was your first exposure to art?
I’ve been drawn to creativity for as long as I can remember, so there wasn’t any one moment that launched my interest in the arts. But I always knew I was a visual person.
I’d sketch things I saw whenever I got the chance, and I was always drawn to illustrations in books and magazines. So, in many ways, drawing was the gateway to my artistic journey.
Drawing was my first connection to the art world and the first medium I used to get started.
I always wanted to challenge myself, and see how well I could bring ordinary objects and people to life — which is why, ever since I was a kid, I used to work really hard on mastering figures and still-lifes.
One of my first art teachers was an expert in classical realism, which really influenced me. I became very keen on creating art like the old masters and documenting what I saw in a way that made attention to detail a true focal point.
How did you get into fashion design, especially with AGNI?
I’ve always defined myself as an artist, but my interests within creativity have been very diverse. I never liked being defined as any one type of creative, which is why I started branching out into other things like makeup, clothing and photography.
No matter what medium I work with though, one thing I’ve always been passionate about is conveying a sense of empowerment with all my projects — in as many ways as I could.
However, I found it difficult to connect all my different definitions of empowerment in art, beauty, and fashion into one cohesive body of work. AGNI was my way of bridging that gap.
But more so it was a way for people to start taking my art seriously.
It has always been a goal of mine to change people’s perspectives on the importance of visual art. So, I figured translating my ideas into something wearable, like clothing, would be a relatable way to not only make art and get my message across, but to also help women feel confident about themselves in the process.
What is your creative process like?
It varies depending on what medium I’m working with, but most of my projects involve a lot of meticulous research.
For my artwork, I read a lot of historic articles and stories to help develop my ideas.
For fashion and beauty, I like to study images from fashion magazines, blogs and brands that inspire me.
I often make collections of different images that stand out to me and try to add my own flare to the concepts in a way that’s never been done before. Being detail-oriented, innovative and different is what I strive for with every project. One of my biggest mottos is, “If there’s something a little off, then it’s just right.”
I first found out about you through Instagram. How has Instagram played a role in how you express yourself as an artist?
There’s no denying how powerful of a platform Instagram has become, especially for creatives working hard to spread their ideas.
Red bottom MJ moonwalk on a 👹Moonwalkin through your clique… OUTFIT: Tracksuit : @reebok @urbanoutfitters Shoes: @egoofficial Necklace: @vidakush MAKEUP: @fentybeauty pro filtr foundation (260) @anastasiabeverlyhills stick foundation (tan) @flirtcosmetics lookatmylips matte liquid lipstick (rosebud) @limecrimemakeup Venus 2 palette @lorealmakeup silkissime eyeliner (cobalt blue) . . . . . . . . . #indianmakeup #wocmakeup #wocbeauty #desibeauty #southasian #browngirls #browngirlslove #browngirlbloggers #indianbeauty #flirtcosmetics #indianfashionblogger #wocmakeup #southasianblogger #badbeti #desibaddie #browngirlmagic_ #melanin #reclaimthebindi #flirtambassador #desimakeup #bindi #browngirlmakeup #fentybeauty #sareenotsorry #bollywood #decoloniseyourwardrobe #lookatmylips #wakeupandmakeup #browngirlmagic
It’s definitely been one of the most effective tools in getting my work out there. However, to be very honest, Instagram can create a love-hate relationship that can become obstructive and distracting to your creative energy — if you’re not careful.
While on one hand, Instagram can connect you with genuine people that will always support you and help create a space where you feel like your thoughts matter, the nature of what we do as artists requires a lot of large-scale love for us to really make an impact. One thing I pride myself on is not submitting to trends, which is why I try very hard to show people that being different is worth supporting.
But with Instagram creating a culture that glorifies popularity as a gateway to opportunities, at times, it can be difficult to express yourself — especially, when the things you’re passionate about aren’t the same things your community is interested in seeing at that time. A lot of creatives rely on social media as a platform to be heard, so it’s easy to let petty things like numbers get in the way.
Angry young brown woman 🔪 Desi Remix 8 coming soon! . . . . . . . . . . . #oiloncanvas #artistsoninstagram #baddie #illustration #queen #rani #brownbaddies #buzzfeedindia #vogueindia #timesofindia #hindustantimes #illustration #indianbeauty #mythology #hindu #painting #oilpainting #indianmythology #reclaimthebindi #desibaddie #elleindia #woc #melaninqueen #browngirls #brownbeauty #bindi #goddess #brownandbougie #watercolor #southasian #indianbride
One thing I wholeheartedly believe in is the power of passion. Because artists are vulnerable to a lot of ups + downs professionally, you have to believe that your creativity is worth fighting for. Trust that one day your struggle will mean something — even if the odds may not seem to be in your favor today.
And for all the people who have stood by me and enjoy my content, there are no words to describe how much their support means to me. These are the people I create for and the people that keep me from quitting.
What moves you? What inspires you? What makes you tick?
I’m an old soul at heart, so a lot of my inspiration comes from history and vintage pop culture.
Although, I’d have to say my biggest influences are definitely my Indian heritage and feminism. I feel really lucky to come from a part of the world with such a rich, vibrant culture, so it’s hard to not feel incredibly inspired by that. That’s why I feel so proud to call myself a South Asian artist.
I try hard to stay positive. As much as I’d like the world to see my best self at all times, I’d be lying if I told you the struggles of being an artist doesn’t get to me. More than anything it bothers me that the arts are becoming less about hard work, passion and talent, and more about big, entertaining personalities and popularity contests.
As an industry we grow and help shape culture because of the people that dared to be different in a positive, inspiring way. But if we aren’t willing to give new talent a chance just because of numbers and reach, then how will we ever move forward?
Wouldn’t it be nice to live in a world where there’s more than enough room for everyone’s hard work to mean something?
What do you like to do for fun?
Lucky for me, everything I do for fun happens to be in my job description! It’s like they say, “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.”
I have so much passion for all things creative, my heart and mind are always bursting with excitement to make things happen.
But if there’s one thing you probably didn’t know its that I spent a huge part of my life dancing competitively and that choreography is a second love of mine, after art. Whenever I get some free time, I love working on new choreo and keeping up with all the competitions in the Desi dance circuit.
Where do you see yourself going in the future?
I’m very ambitious and I have a lot of big dreams for myself, but most of all, I’d really love to grow my platform into a space that’s truly influential for all types of women to feel empowered and accepted for the things that make them stand out.
I want to show people that creativity has no bounds and that you never have to limit yourself to what everyone else is doing to be successful. Professionally, it would be my dream to collaborate with my favorite beauty brands, turn AGNI into the next revolution in Desi streetwear, and to have my own solo art exhibitions around the world.
Not to sound too narcissistic, but I would love to be the girl that sets all the trends —the type of girl that has the means to achieve anything she puts her mind to and embodies the confidence of a true goal-getter.