“Art has always been treated as a secondary subject and even in schools where it is given its due importance, teachers struggle to create an exhaustive syllabus to teach and grade students,” says Sara Vetteth of a predicament that most art teachers all over the country still face. It was this dilemma that prompted her to start Rainbow Fish Studios.
Two years since its inception, Rainbow Fish Studios has built, tested and refined a strong curriculum for teachers and students alike with contributions from over 30 artists, designers, architects and educators. “Today we teach almost 1,000 students a week across city schools like Sishya, Lady Andal and Sir Mutha. We also run a centre where students can come for an after-school or holiday art class,” says Sara Vetteth, who manages the studio along with her partners.
A graduate from Parsons School of Design, New York, Sara taught undergrad and graduate classes at her alma mater and has been an art faculty for NYC public schools. Talking about her experience in the Big Apple, she says, “I saw how much exposure kids in the west received to art and design. I wanted my kids to experience the same. The idea is not to convert all children into artists but to make sure that they are able to appreciate art and design. Learning to draw is a skill like learning to swim and anybody can do it.”
Currently city schools outsource their art programmes to the studio, which in turn sends teachers to conduct the art classes.
When Sara is not working, travelling is a passion. “I love to travel with my family – some memorable trips in the last few years have been – a week travelling through Burma with my mother and daughter, climbing volcanoes and snorkeling in the Galapagos Islands with my mother-in-law and my son and exploring Mayan ruins in Mexico with my husband and kids,” she mentions, recalling her adventures. She also manages to go on an annual trek to the Himalayas, a six year tradition so far.
As a woman head we asked her if there are any gender related challenges she faces, to which she answers, “I face the same challenges that anyone – man or woman- faces when running a small company, getting word out on a shoe string marketing budget, staffing, putting processes in place and so on. We need young art school graduates to join our teaching staff and we’re looking for people with a strong business development background to help us scale,” A\adding with a smile, “Hopefully your article will help us in this regard.”
Sara draws her inspiration from all the women in her life – from family to friends. “Each of them is intelligent, strong and despite looking after large families they manage to do so much. All these women inspire me every day and without them I’d probably be a mess!”
Ending with some advice for women entrepreneurs, she says, “I guess you just have to think about a format for your work that allows you to balance life and priorities. I have a wonderful husband who has helped me through it all.”