Imagination is the fuel for art, and luckily for Sneha Shrestha of Boston, imagination is her middle name — or more accurately, her artist name. Imagine is a street artist, painter, and educator, originally from Nepal. She paints murals around the city and features them on her Instagram page @imagine876, along with videos of her process and other work. Having just finished a wall in Allston, Imagine took a moment out of her busy schedule to chat with the Globe about her inspiration and, of course, her imagination.
Q. Why do you call yourself Imagine?
A. A lot of my work has been inspired by graffiti, and graffiti artists have an artist name, a street name. In picking mine, I thought a lot about it and “imagine” and “imagination” translated is my mother’s name when it’s translated into English. A lot of my art learning as a child was through her.
Q. In your Instagram bio, you say you write in your native language “bridging Sanskrit scriptures & graffiti.” Are there any recurring words in your art, and if yes, what do they translate to in English?
A. Imagination! I write that word a lot, and the phrase, “you can imagine” a lot. It’s kind of like a mantra. Other times I write my thoughts and positive feelings.
Q. Your bio also mentions that you are a Harvard graduate. What did you do there, both academically and artistically?
A. I went to the Harvard graduate school for education and I got my master’s in arts and education there. It was a combined experience of art and academics which is why I picked that program. I wasn’t directly making art, but my classes were more about leadership, education, technology, and creativity. It fueled my art and helped me think about the world in order to create art.
Q. Do you have a favorite piece you have done so far?
A. I think favorite is a hard word, because there are so many things about art that I enjoy, that it’s not just the piece but the process. I finished a wall . . . in Allston, in a Harvard space, and I’m feeling good about it. It was fragments of different words and ideas that I did digitally first and then with my hands.
Q. Where did you first find your love of calligraphy and street art?
A. When I first moved to Boston, right after college, and I started working at Artists for Humanity. I met my now family and mentor, Rob “Problak” Gibbs, who is one of the pioneers of graffiti in Boston. He would paint almost every weekend and I used to do a lot of photography back then, so I would take pictures of him painting and I slowly got interested in the process.
Creating artwork was so much bigger than me and there was something powerful about that. He explained to me the history of graffiti while he painted, so I got firsthand knowledge. Slowly I started developing my own style and thinking about what would make this art form mine. Graffiti is an art form that started in the US and as an immigrant I wanted to know how I could bring this and make it mine, so I started to use Nepali letters.
Over time it made me realize as a child and a young adult I didn’t appreciate the aesthetics of the Nepali alphabet. I thought of all the other cultures that appreciate the aesthetics of letters and that’s when I started looking into what I can do in creating my own style.
Q. Since joining Instagram, have you found a community of followers in the art or street art world?
A. Definitely. I think there is a whole community of people who are cheering me on. They are interested in art or they want to learn more or know what the next thing I’m working on is, and so I post about it. We have real conversations and comments where people show support. There is also a community of international artists that I follow and I see their work evolve, too, so it very much is a community.
Q. What is one thing you want people who visit your Instagram account to take away from your work?
A. I want people to see my artwork but I also want them to see the process of it and the story behind it and I think that is what I am posting. You can see my artwork, but you can also see me and my process and how I go about my life and art, which is more of a complete story than just looking at the art.