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Kartikey Sharma- Cancer Patient, Graffiti Artist and Living Inspiration

Kartikey Sharma- Cancer Patient, Graffiti Artist and Living Inspiration

"Given my illness, the fact that I am capable of seeing life and beauty in the smallest of things makes me a better human being."- Kartikey Sharma


Life for Kartikey Sharma, a young graffiti artist and a painter from Mumbai, changed the day he was diagnosed with cancer in February, 2016. But it was not happening for the first time. He had been diagnosed with cancer before as well when he was in 12th standard in 2009.

But he is in no way stopping his art from growing. His journey as a graffiti artist had begun back in his college-Symbiosis, Pune.  

From Engineering to Painting

Kartikey was almost done with the fourth year of engineering when he started thinking of pursuing artistic stream of graffiti and sketching. He had always been inclined towards drawing. He says, " Since my primary school days, I used to look forward to the last day of exams so that I could return to my drawing". On being asked about his parent's reaction to his decision, he says, "My answer to this is no different from anyone who has ever switched to a very unconventional career. My parents were obviously not convinced and tried their bit to convince me to take a conventional job. Even I, till recently, had never thought that art could be a viable career option". Kartikey further adds, "Me having already faced difficult health-related circumstances, my parents wanted me to have a rather stable life and a stable job as every parent would. But over the years there has been a significant change in their opinion. Now they are happy that I have chosen to be my own boss and they support me".

Drawings From The Hospital Bed

Kartikey is in the hospital since the beginning of January 2017. He is right now having a bone marrow transfusion. But even medicine can't chain down his creativity. Kartikey makes sketches sitting on the hospital bed. "The space and environment does affect my creativity but at the same time I wouldn't say that I need a specific setup to be creative. It's more like the state my mind is in that matters the most. If in my head I feel trapped or restricted then I certainly find it very difficult to fly freely with my ideas and make something. A lot of people have interpreted the hospital environment as rather very sad pieces of artwork, which is true to a certain extent. But I prefer to be content in my mind with the situation I am in. If I make peace with me and my circumstances, I am more likely to be more creative. This is evidently visible in my sketches."

But every day is not the same for Kartikey. He adds, "Yes, I have had such days when I am not able to come up with anything at all. The ideas are actually a result of a constant thinking process, which is like an obsession. It's a practice that has to be done every day of each week. When I fail to do so for a few days at a stretch for any reason such as health, I take a while to get into that space to create something from scratch as I have to keep thinking to keep building the idea to an extent that I like it myself. I have always believed that creativity is not spontaneous. Yes, the seed of it could be a spontaneous moment or thought but, for it to become an idea worth putting on paper, it takes effort and time".

Favorite Sketch and the Feeling of being Trapped

On being asked about his favourite sketch out of so many that he has been making from his hospital ward, he says, "My favourite sketch was converted into a huge painting by me as I got a window of a few weeks at home. The story behind that is that for a very long time, I had been undergoing experimental treatment. I had gone through different kinds of chemotherapy starting from the soft ones to the most aggressive ones, but showing no results what so ever. All this while, I had been drawing a lot of closed doors in my sketches, which were a direct representation of me feeling trapped in the situation and not being able to find a solution. My condition had become fatal as nothing would work and my disease was spreading continuously. Then one fine day, we found some hope in the form of bone marrow transplant. I am currently undergoing it and, though the path isn't as easy as I hoped, we have hope now. It's a tough fight and the statistics are not in my favour. But the doors have opened to a new light to look forward to. And I gave these doors an art form, which by far is my favourite piece of work”.


On being asked how he manages to stay inspired given his difficult present situation, Kartikey answers, "My inspiration to become an artist has been my life. The incidents that happened since my childhood; the things I learned from my family; the views and opinions I generated; the way I perceived things and my love for life (by which I mean the fact that I am alive, which is the best thing that is happening to me). All this inspired me to become an artist. By calling myself an artist, I don't mean just the fact that I paint for a living. The fact that I am capable of seeing life and beauty in the smallest of things, and the realization that it doesn't take much to make myself happy - these have made me a better artist and a better human being". He also adds, "I do not idolize a particular artist as such. But my favourite works are of Vincent Van Gogh. But I would like to say that whenever I feel like I am not being original and leaning towards taking someone else's inspiration, I think of A.R. Rahman and tell myself that if he can produce absolutely original music, so can I".

Kartikey Sharma is right now being treated for cancer in Tata Memorial Hospital, Kharghar in Mumbai and he hopes to get well soon and take forward his graffiti full throttle. 

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