Arun Kumar Bajaj was born on June 2, 1983. He hails from the Patiala city of Punjab. The city remains famous for its traditional turban (a type of headgear), paranda (a tasselled tag for braiding hair), patiala salwar (a type of female trousers), jutti (a type of footwear) and Patiala peg (a measure of liquor). But amidst all this, rose Arun, like the sun rises amidst the mountains.
"I've been stitching for the last 23 years, since I was 12," says Bajaj, who runs a tailoring enterprise in Patiala's vibrant Adalat Bazar that specialises in stitching traditional achkans and sherwanis. "My father was a tailor but he died early, when I was 16, and I had to drop out of school to take over the shop. I was good at sketching in school, and this was a way I could combine the two arts," explains Bajaj, who got the trademark 'Needleman' registered with his name a few years ago. "I didn't want to remain just a darzi all my life," he says. "I want to make a name for myself, even though my obsession has caused financial uncertainty to my family."
The West, especially France, has a long tradition of embroidered tapestries, called needlepoint or petit point. Where Bajaj's tapestries differ is that instead of being done by hand, as it usually is, they are done entirely on the sewing machine. "You need to be very precise because once you've stitched the cloth, there's no way you can undo it. I also don't overstitch – it's all done in a single layer to give the painting a neat look," he explains.
In recent years, Bajaj has organised exhibitions of his paintings in Pune, Mumbai, Delhi and other cities. He's also sold a few of them, fetching as much as `3.5 lakh for one of them from a sale at Dilli Haat in the capital.
Recently he gifted to Smriti Irani from, Union of Ministry a Specimen of his Masterpiece; a large 4×2 feet painting of Sikh Ruler Maharaja Ranjit Singh. The specialty of this Masterpiece was this painting was made with a lot of detailing including Courtiers and Soldiers over 2000 human figures. He says that it took him approximately a year to make this Painting that he made with Sewing Machine.