“Like a small boat, On the ocean
Sending big waves Into motion”
- Rachel Platten (The Fight Song)
Dedication and self-motivation are what drives artists. Meet the young, talented and driven artist, Dr. Gattem Venkatesh. With a wide list of artistic talents, this whizz has his name in Guinness Book of World Records, has been honored with the prestigious, Bharat Gaurav Award (2015), and has been mentioned in the Indian Book of Records five times already.
Belonging to a small village in Andhra Pradesh, Gattem has been making big waves for Indian artists. An example, an inspiration and a source of light for budding talents in the country, he found his roots just like any other artist, by the chance of life. Starting at a tender age, he began his journey in 8th grade. Little did he know, he would become the source of light for India and fellow talented people!
Every Great Journey starts with small steps
“Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.” - Vincent Van Gogh
Artists, indeed, are the source of light for others, they bring out the hidden beauty of our world. And, the best part is they find their talents through their encounters with life. During his usual visit at Etikoppaka artists near his house, unknowingly, Gattem discovered his love for art as a kid.
The Etikoppaka craft makes use of intricate carvings on wood and blends colors, all of which inspired him. With questions about the craft every day, Gattem found himself on his toes, beaming with excitement whenever he saw something new. He was already an enthusiastic painter, but the artisans gave him something different, a new way of looking at things. On one such visit, he asked them some questions about their craft. To his surprise, he got an answer which was unlike the ones he was used to. The artisans told him that with art, there were no rules, no combinations and, that he was free to do whatever he felt like.
Just like that, Gattem found his muse. He did not have to look for anything, he had been taught one of the most meaningful lessons in the most unlikely place in the world.
Great things come from perseverance
“To create one’s world in any of the arts takes courage.” - Georgia O’Keeffe
Finding his muse, his inspiration and coming face to face with his life's purpose, this micro-artist in the making devoted all of his time to art. What started as a small hobby, gave rise to a phenomenon in the later years. Coming from a humble background, he chose to do something different when he decided to be an artist.
His father was a farmer, and his mother, a homemaker. When he began to review things out of waste materials, started to paint pictures, and showcased his skills, his parents couldn't overlook the real talent! He had the whole-hearted support of his parents, but other family members did not think along the same lines. As things usually are for artists, Gattem’s relatives found his thirst for art, a pure waste of time. Not only questioning him but also his parents, they made art seem pointless.
However, with the support of his parents, Venkatesh slowly and steadily moved forward. You see, it was they who asked him to not pay any mind to others and to concentrate on his work. Working day in and day out on his talents, honing them and getting better every day, he set many records, won many awards and caught the eye of many people, including the former Prez. Although things were supposed to go smoothly since then, the journey only got harder.
The Guinness World Record Challenge
The Guinness Book of World Records came as a hefty challenge. For two long years, he tried to apply for a record. His applications, however, always came back, rejected. Those couple of years, all Gattem saw were rejection letters. At such a time, anyone would give up. After all, failing at your goals or aims for two continuous years would put anyone’s spirits down.
Determined to get a record, and trusting in his skills, Gattem kept his shoulder to the wheel and walked on. Studying world records, he looked for an opportunity that he could use. And before he knew it, he was onto something. Finding that not many had tried to create the smallest miniature of the Empire State Building, he found his chance!
Twenty- three minutes, it took only 23-minutes for Gattem to finish the replica on an 18mm toothpick. But this was not the moment of triumph. Although he did his part and created the smallest replica, waiting came next. It takes time to do verify the record, the original replica and to complete the entire process. Calmly waiting, his life’s dreams came to fruition when he finally heard from the officials and his record. In 2017, after years of hard work, patience and perseverance, Gattem found his name mentioned in the Guinness Book of World Records. Surprisingly, rejections never fazed this young artist, he just beat on!
Studying and Art go hand in hand
“Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.” -Pele
The general notion of art and education is that one cannot do both of the things together. What one does not realize is that it is only a matter of determination and strong mindfulness. Doing what he was supposed to and what he truly wished, Venkatesh found a way to work through both through sheer persistence.
In 2017, this school kid bagged a Guinness World Record. Moving ahead, with a degree in B.Arch from Gitam School of Architecture, and a doctorate in Arts and Crafts from Peace University, Germany, received on July 2018, he finished his education and still managed to build over 400 pieces of artwork.
The sheer presence of talent did not take him to new heights, his motivation and his dreams did. One would think that Gattem would want to take things easy now. However, that is far from the truth. He wants to help fellow artists, he wants to help those who wish to find their inspiration, motivation, and art. Self-taught as he is, he hopes to help others find their way through Venky Arts, his private venture helps students of various age groups to find their artistic calling.
Dreams are as good as your determination, Gattem neither gave up on his studies nor on his art, he only found a way to make both worlds meet.
And Life Continues
Industrious as an ant, he continues to work in the same way even after attaining fame and many prestigious awards. Still spares time to make visits to his art exhibits, to attend various schools functions as a chief guest, and to teach students about art. When nominated for the Padma Shri, he had a chance to meet the former Indian President, Pranab Mukherjee who encouraged him to follow all his dreams.
Receiving the Ugadi Puruskar from the Andhra Pradesh Government in 2018, he has had the chance to meet many ministers, received honours and awards in the domain of art.
“I want to put a ding in the universe”- Steve Jobs
Continuing down a path which is less travelled in our generation and choosing art as his primary goal of life, Venkatesh is spreading happiness and joy through his art. His works are showcased in many exhibits, he teaches young children how to find the hidden potential and above all, he loves to immerse himself in art.