Hoozinc: Whose ink is it anyway?

Aligning urban art with emotions, Hoozinc brings alive pop culture as a service

After their first internship as mechanical engineers for a company that made ducts for turbines, Hyderabad-based batchmates Chandni Mathur and Nikhil Kapur of Hoozinc knew they would choose anything but a 9-to-5 desk job for their career. The best part of the internship, they say, were the trips to the dusty industrial estate at Sanathnagar. “We found the factory visits more enriching than sitting in the office doing quality control,” says Chandni.

The graffiti artist duo runs two art-centric companies, The Hoozinc store, a retail outlet of pop culture merchandise, paintings etc and Hoozinc Art and Design Studio that provides art as a service for companies and clients across India. The Studio is a direct extension of their passion for urban art.

Neck deep in work, the Hoozinc duo is racing against time to meet a prestigious deadline. “We have been commissioned to make a few murals for World Art Dubai,” says Chandni. The series is a hyperbolic representation of issues such as gender equality and cultural arrogation. “Using art as a medium to propagate change, we have created paintings that are bold, provocative, self-explanatory and yet abstract and silent.”

The two friends who are business partners at Hoozinc were always inclined towards entrepreneurship. As students, they used to enjoy making t-shirts to sell it to their friends. “It was more of a hobby and we enjoyed being on the creative side,” says Nikhil Kapur.

After designing and selling t-shirts, in order to diversify, they began making posters which later took the form of stretch canvas. “When we set up The Hoozinc Store in 2011, the idea was to transcend design and quirkiness and create a brand that creates artistic products unique to us. Back then, we were the only store in the state to sell novel official merchandise from movies or TV shows, there was very little understanding of art and murals then. Since then, we have progressed to become a full-fledged lifestyle brand. The response has been truly overwhelming,” says Nikhil.

At their little store at Banjara Hills, which doubles up as a studio, the pop art colours vying for attention. Then your focus shifts to the subject on the stretch canvas. In one corner there is a painting of four dictators in a frame. The shelf adjacent to it has their latest commissioned collection for the World Art Dubai — women across races and slogans proclaiming women empowerment and equality. There is also those of Marilyn Monroe and Sheldon Lee Cooper, not to forget Ranveer Singh on a canvas slightly bigger than the rest. “They are all orders,” Nikhil laughs.

Nikhil says on a confident note, “The store caters to a wide range of products. We add a new range of quirky merchandise to adapt to market needs. We are popular as a brand that can customise anything.”

Apart from their creative journey, how the two decided on a name for their brand name is pretty interesting as well. After a little coaxing, Nikhil shares, “I am a big fan of Banksy. At one time we were also considering doing graffiti art and I wanted to get a brand name for ourselves. While in college I used to scribble Hooz on all my stuff, without any reason. So we thought we can work on Hooz to create a brand name.” Chandni adds, “Hooz seemed incomplete to us, so we wanted to add ‘ink’ to suggest that we work with art, ink and creative things. But a name like that was already registered. So we created Hoozinc.”

Did they finally do graffiti artwork? In its eight years of existence, Hoozinc has been a part of the street art in Hyderabad. “Our street art focuses on the happenings of everyday life, inspired very much by social issues that require attention. Hoozinc strongly believes that “art has the power to change the world,” says Chandni. Since then they have built a team of people who believe in the same.

Over the years, they have worked on graffiti and wall art for urban spaces for clients across the country. As their passion and understanding of art evolves continuously, they keep exploring the use of graffiti and mural artwork as a way of sparking life in ordinary places, instigating thought where there is none and provoking discussions on topics that are deemed taboo. Constantly looking to innovate the use of materials for their artwork which are as varied as the themes themselves; from stencils and spray paints to newspapers, carom coins, metals etc.

Apart from stretch canvas, murals and wall art, the studio is overflowing with things like wooden masks, shoes, bats, phone case and anything that needs customisation.

Hoozinc recently created a graffiti for the Pinkathon in Hyderabad and the duo is hopeful that “If things work out well the graffiti might become the permanent logo for body positivity for all Pinkathon runs,” says Chandni.