From being a student of Fine Arts to getting into the stickering business, it wasn’t a path that he chose willingly. Left with few options, Ravi Shankar shares about how the stickering business works and why he’d like to do something better if possible.
‘I graduated in Fine Arts from Andhra University, but the market outside is very different. Customers today prefer to get their photographs enhanced with photoshop rather than go for a hand-drawn portrait. So, while I still dabble with art now and then, customers usually buy a ready-made sticker rather than get a customized piece of art made. They want things quicker and at a lesser price. And so, instead of pursuing a career in art, I opened this little shop and have been working in this line since the past ten years. My shop sells stickers for cars and bikes. I also print photocopies, but the main income is through the number plates we make for four wheelers and two-wheelers. However, given today’s market condition where the government is insisting on high security smart registration plates, we may soon lose that market.
The ‘so-called’ high security registration plates use letters that are embossed and are supposed to come with a chip. The government says that they are supposed to be tamper-proof. But this technology tried out in metros has failed badly. But the government still insists on it, and though we have protested against these boards, our pleas have gone unheard. These boards may cost half of what our other boards do, but their quality is bad too. The numbers come off easily with a thinner, and without the chip they really are worthless. We have put across our pleas to the government and various organizations, but nothing has come from it. While this inevitably hits small businesses like ours, it affects customers too.
I have a small family and my two children go to school. My earning helps me to make ends meet, but it’s not enough to live comfortably. With no other option but to continue this business, I hope that the market changes in the favour of people like me. Given the scenario, I am forced to work for someone or if financial aid is provided I can expand my shop with different products.