Grishma Khodaria is the host of The Art Whale Series, where she aims to deepen wider understanding and appreciation of art. Leveraging her knowledge of New York, New Delhi, Singapore, Seoul, Hong Kong, and Beijing, she connects with creatives for consistent conversations on self-expression and reflection. Since she began the podcast in 2021, she has cultivated 12.6 thousand followers over more than 150 interviews with artists, art personalities, gallerists and museum professionals, some of which were conducted on site internationally.
Khodaria reached out to Forbes from Delhi to cultivate an open channel on art and media. Below, we get to know her and her motivations.
Please introduce yourself and explain what prompted you to your arts series.
I am the founder and director of The Art Whale Series, an art vlog/podcast that originated during the challenging period of the COVID-19 pandemic to foster a sense of collective unity.
During my prior journey as an art critic and journalist, I have been privileged to meet new artists every day who are truly passionate about their work. I often wrote about specific artists and exhibitions, but I was always curious to explore more of the art scene, including public art displays, exhibition openings, and other artistic events.
But witnessing the closure of art galleries, museums, art fairs and exhibitions, I felt the need for a more expansive platform than my prior role as an art critic and journalist in New York. Consequently, I decided to take a bold step. I quit my job of three years in the heart of New York and returned to my homeland of India, where I embarked upon launching The Art Whale Series full-time. This marked a significant shift from written art criticism to vocal discourse, using my voice as a medium to engage directly with a global audience, primarily through the platform of Instagram Live.
The arrival of Covid in 2020 was a tough moment for me. I felt disheartened watching the closure of art galleries, exhibitions, fairs, and museums. However, I was intrigued to see that artists were using Instagram to keep their art alive, and today, The Art Whale Series collaborates with art galleries and artists from all around the world. Artists appreciate the platform as it allows them to express themselves freely.
What challenges have you seen artists face?
Every year, thousands of talented artists graduate from art schools, particularly in the United States, where 16% of working artists have bachelor’s degrees, and 40% don’t. When I finished my own Master of Fine Arts (MFA) and subsequently taught at the University of Delhi’s College of Art, I wished for the talented students I knew to receive recognition and be able to sell their art. Many of them came from financially challenging backgrounds, and art was their livelihood. Being an artist myself, I understood the immense effort it takes to create art, from coming up with an idea to choosing materials and bringing the artwork to life. Then there’s the complex process of connecting the artwork with the audience through galleries, curators, and museums, and for some, finally selling their art.
Seeing all these challenges in past ten years inspired me to start my podcast, as I wanted to create a platform that empowers emerging artists and sheds light on the intricacies of the art world.
How and why do you maintain interest in New York City?
From the early 20th century Abstract Expressionism to the diversity of today, New York City has a legacy of innovation. Its cultural diversity attracts artists from around the world, creating a melting pot of ideas and influences. New York’s energy, constant evolution, and dynamic artistic ecosystem make it a magnet for artists, collectors, and enthusiasts, solidifying its status as a preeminent art hub. Its artistic communities and networking opportunities encourage collaboration. Economic opportunities abound, with a thriving art market, auctions, and art-related businesses. New York’s global influence sets trends and shapes the art world.
As such, the Art Whale Series maintains a digital office in New York to grow our show. The love local artists and galleries give us is immense, and I am always grateful.
What is the universal undercurrent you have found across international communities?
I believe that when we delve into the concepts and ideas behind artists’ works, they profoundly reflect their upbringing, surroundings, language, culture, the colors encountered, and the voices heard growing up. These aspects form their artistic identity. In my conversations with creatives, I have realized how open and direct they are in expressing themselves through various artistic mediums. It’s these authentic expressions and unwavering passion that continually draw me closer to the art world.
Despite these diverse influences, the most captivating aspect of this is that each one of us around the world can relate to art, especially contemporary art, because the experience of art transcends language, region, and culture.
How has your experience in the global art world changed your perspective, particularly in East Asia?
Having been born and raised in India, I have felt a deep connection with East Asian countries since childhood. I have had the opportunity to travel extensively to China, Hong Kong, Korea, and Taiwan for both educational purposes and to explore art…and more recently, to conduct interviews with artists and gallery directors for The Art Whale Series.
I admire how East Asian artists are incorporating technology into their art, and my trip to Seoul for FRIEZE and KIAF art fairs was an incredibly enriching experience. Apart from the stunning art exhibitions, I had the pleasure of interacting with the people of Seoul, who exemplified their tradition of warm and courteous hospitality. It truly is a beautiful city, and I look forward to visiting it again.
Simultaneously, I decided to combine my art knowledge with coaching and communication skills. I expanded my career horizons through International Coach Federation training program, a journey that took me through Hong Kong and Beijing. This experience provided me with a profound understanding of human psychology and enabled me to refine my communication skills as a motivational speaker. It was through this juncture that I decided to combine my coaching acumen with deep-rooted artistic expertise.
Do you have any tips for a great interview?
During my technical coach training, I had the opportunity to learn about various personality tests. This knowledge is essential when coaching clients to open up and share fully. So, I would say that the most crucial aspect is understanding the guest and making them feel comfortable. Additionally, it’s important to remain natural and relaxed, maintaining eye contact throughout the conversation.
Trust also plays an important role in bringing authentic content to the audience. I have been consistent and transparent: whatever is said on Instagram Live shows is posted as it is on the platform, without editing even a single word. This creates a natural feel to the content, and the audience feels comfortable with this approachable style. Individuals are then confident to come be a part of it and get positive visibility.
I ultimately feel that I am learning every day from each art talk, which helps me refine my audience engagement skills. I am always genuinely excited to meet new people and get to know them, and I believe that excitement and happiness come through in my interactions.
What do you aim to learn during an interview?
Whether an artist, gallery director, museum director, curator, art writer or other professional, I am always keen to know about how they look at art, their perspectives, ideas, and concepts. It is lovely to hear the unique journeys that make them who they are today. The beauty is that, despite coming from varied life experiences and struggles, everyone looks at art with the perspective of the ultimate expression. That moment of stillness, waiting for the ‘wow’ moment in art, is something every artist and art enthusiast seeks to achieve through creation—not just for themselves, but for presentation to an audience. This is why art exists.
And art really can have a profound impact. Beyond being displayed in museums or galleries, art has the ability to touch the soul and bring about transformation.
Why are you motivated to do this work?
What fundamentally binds together the diverse threads of my professional trajectory is a profound connection to spirituality. Whether it finds expression through my artistry, written compositions, engaging discussions, or coaching endeavors, spirituality serves as a central and unifying theme that imparts a sense of meditative reflection and transformative experience to each facet of my daily pursuits.
Through these roles, I aim to empower people to lead healthier, more inspired, and meaningful lives through natural health practices and holistic well-being. This includes promoting healthy lifestyles, nutrition, art healing and meditation methods that nurture both the body and mind. My aim is to help individuals achieve a harmonious balance in their lives. Physical and emotional health go hand-in-hand with creative expression, as motivation to live a fulfilling and purpose-driven life.
I am considering developing an online fitness channel, because as a Certified Yoga Instructor, I hope to use this knowledge to help people live healthier and longer naturally.
What are your plans for the future of the series?
When I started The Art Whale Series, I was fortunate that artists around the world already knew my art writing, and I was able to use my existing network. As such, my audience is very intelligent. They understand what makes good content.
Now The Art Whale Series is on Instagram, Apple, Google Podcast, Amazon Music and Spotify. We just shot a launch video at the Universal Studios in Singapore.
Separately, I am also the Marketing Director at my family business of Electronics and Semiconductors, so, I have business travel plans scheduled for 2023-24. But wherever I go, I always take out time to engage myself in the art of that particular country.
To be a part of Khodaria’s art talk show, message on Instagram @theartwhaleseries or email email@example.com. For more information, check out www.theartwhaleseries.com and www.grishmakhodaria.com.