Article by Aadhitya Jayaseelan, Artist and founder of Art community Kayamai
Architect turned full-time Artist and Entrepreneur, Aadhitya Jayaseelan combines art with healing and shares her work through her own brand, Kayamai.
Challenging ideologies one illustration at a time, Aadhi’s creations represent the power of turning emotions into work that embodies unconditional love, healing and empowerment.
As an Entrepreneur, she values every opportunity given to share her heart, from painting, facilitating therapeutic art workshops, art sessions with kids, oracle readings, boutique, pop up market place, a beautiful urban garden and sharing her studio with other like minded creatives 'choasmetry' ~ tattoo artist, 'kondeceylon' ~ hairstylist. Kayamai is a private studio space helping others to find their value and to be able to thrive in a safe community - Studio Kayamai.
Describe your career path to now?
I studied architecture in Bangalore and I have always loved sketching and painting.
I used to do a lot of real life comics and my entire architecture portfolio and submissions were sketches in a very comical way. My thesis and most of my architecture projects revolved around communities and community building inspired from the 1970’s counter culture, Woodstock, Dharavi and more.
I worked as an assistant Art Director in Bangalore where I was mostly a sketch artist and later moved towards art direction including set design, collaborations with communities, brand design and managing a team of designers at the TedXChennai 2019 event in Chennai.
After returning to Sri Lanka to spend time with my parents I started to illustrate my emotions, and I thought it was relatable and had potential to become something more. Hence I started a label called "Kayamai" and I made products out of my artwork (tees, totes , stationery, lamp shades, etc)
I was trying to put myself out there at every pop up I could and I met a lovely group of people who asked me to apply for a creative Residency program in collaboration with the British Council.
That changed my life.
I found a diverse group of creatives; artists, architects, entrepreneurs...and that is when I realised I can give others what I wanted - a community, a place to express, a place to heal, a place of love and kindness for oneself through art.
What is it about your craft that inspires you so much?
To be honest it’s been a lovely journey. Earlier I had turned to art as a medium of release, now it has evolved into reflection which is super interesting, and when your craft is your full time job and passion you get to choose to contract and expand as you desire, sometimes going wild, sometimes looking for safe pockets, community and so on.
I love drawing and illustrating experiences, the divine feminine, road maps (haha, the architect comes out once in a while) comics, artivism and community art.
What is your career highlight to date?
Studio Kayamai - it has become a safe pocket to express, and it is a social experiment. Being a pioneer in Sri Lanka feels quite overwhelming but we are out there and validated by the community to a great extent.
Creating a safe community has been a dream inspired since 2017 during my thesis project on Counter culture, Woodstock and the 1970’s revolutionary period.
Any funny or silly moments you have experienced on your journey?
Everything feels funny. I have been learning so much about people management and how each soul is so different, working and laughing for all our silliness is what makes the journey wholesome.
What inequalities do you see in your work?
I often experience that the art culture is only for the elite and that is upsetting although definitely not crippling since we choose to thrive the best way we can.
I have also noticed that there is sometimes no space or room for happy art, the theory of art always needing to come from a place of trauma, tragedy and pain. I believe art can be about just being, breathing doesn’t always have to have a story.
What is your passion within your field and what motivates you?
People, places, materials, culture, community, healing, expression, trying and working towards a better version of me for myself and the society that we disagree with. Different perspectives allows learning and feels exciting every day.
(Image is the result of a guided visualisation and meditation practice in a Kayamai workshop event)
What is your vision for the future with your work?
To be self sustainable, to continue to find various ways of creative outlets, to continue to be a safe center. I would love to further create more safe pockets all over the island while partnering and collaborating with different communities and groups to understand and be more grounded and engaged culturally and contextually.
What advice would you give to youngsters who want to follow in your footsteps?
I would say start by taking that first step and as you go you will be able to figure it out, it’s a constant ebb and flow situation which keeps you grounded. Ask for guidance if necessary and don’t be shy to ask for help.
Be genuine. Start with the intention and move forward. Create and express more. There is so much strength in creativity and healing in expression. Use these tools to do better for yourself and people around you.
Be ready to give with good intentions and be ready to accept if people are not ready to receive. Find those important connections that feel safe and warm . Have those difficult conversations. Find liberation within yourself. Create a harmonious cycle of positive ripple effects.
Our little goes a long way - Lots of love and good luck!
How do you want to use your voice to create change?
Expression, awareness and education
The process of art is so different for each person although it revolves around the basics, therapeutic, self reflection, release , mindfulness, and much more. Art is one of the oldest forms of expression, it allows communication, community, collaboration and togetherness.
Kayamai presents a lens to explore a realm of infinite possibilities, by tapping into your highest self. The brand bridges forgotten Divine beings of the ancient world with the 21st century realm.
It’s the work of thought and intention moulded into a brand which is Kayamai and aims to bring perspective into Love, Pain, Anger, Desire, Empathy, Fear and Compassion. It is visual content for the soul.
For starters, question everything including, what’s normal?
"Many of them are normal because they are so well adjusted to our mode of existence, because their human voice has been silenced so early in their lives, that they do not even struggle or suffer or develop symptoms as the neurotic does. They are normal not in what may be called the absolute sense of the word; they are normal only in relation to a profoundly abnormal society.”
~ Aldous Huxley
Get to know your real self, and to do that forget everything you think you know: Most of our opinions, thoughts and habits are a result of social conditioning, and to learn it is only natural that we unlearn too. When you explore what’s best for you, and seek to grow, it is often required to ride against the tide of society’s resistance. In these instances your mind is your superpower which we aim to empower by diving straight into the questions, “why are we not inspired to be Divine; to be a God or Goddess?”
Kayamai defies the standard definition of “normal”, to remind you that Divinity can be experienced in your own skin, your own thoughts and your own experiences. We are a part of a magnificent magical journey, so own it. And if you don't know how, let Kayamai be your guide.