Friday, November 7, 2014

Nidhi Chanani

You started on a different path as a literature major. How did you come to be an
Books and art fueled me equally growing up. I couldn't convince my parents to support a major in art so I picked my other love - literature. At UC Santa Cruz, art was impacted so a minor wasn't possible. While I was in Santa Cruz I took art league classes and did lots of crafts. I knew it was basic, though. I began to follow young artists and the desire to grasp concepts beyond the basics grew stronger. I was working full time in the non-profit sector at the point that I decided to take the plunge and attend art school. 

I was 27 and surrounded by artists who were 10 years younger than me and 20 times more talented, I debated dropping out every day. What kept me on the path? I wish I could say it was a teacher or mentor, but it was my stubbornness. I wanted to be an artist. I wanted to draw and make people happy. I did end up dropping out, but not because of my feelings of insecurity. I wanted to break free of the prescribed notion of education. I was simply ready to explore my voice. 

That's what I did. It sounds so simple, but it was nerve-wracking and grueling. I worked part time and drew a new illustration every day. Those daily drawings became the basis of my career. 
Did you go to art school? What were the benefits that you got from your time there?
Art school gave me the insight into light, shadow and color. It did not give me the skill set, though. I developed that by practice. Art school can only give you so much and the rest comes from drawing all the time. I gained an understanding of form, shape, character that was essential in thinking about art as a form of communication. I was also exposed to career options as well as modern artists who were influencing current movements. 
Are there any artists that inspire you?
Yes! One of my favorite questions. In terms of graphic novelists - Marjane Satrapi, Raina Telgemeier, Craig Thompson and Cyril Pedrosa. Illustrators like Joey Chou, Jerimiah Kertner, Alina Chau, Roberto Kondo and Kei Acedera inspire me with everything they create. And sculpture artists like Lyla Warren, Kina Crow and Leslie Levings make me want to sculpt! 
Was there an individual that inspired you to become an artist?
Kurt Halsey. His work was a major influence on me when I was living in Santa Cruz, dreaming of becoming a full-time artist. I remember reading all his interviews and spending hours looking at his work. I thought if he could share cute, sentimental art and "make" it then maybe I could too. 
Can you tell us about the different techniques you do your work in and how they 
I primarily draw digitally. I use flash and photoshop. I didn't pick that combo but its what works for me. I loathe illustrator although I have taught myself how to use it for certain commercial jobs. 

I know many artists who use the lasso tool in photoshop for their base drawing. I use flash in the same way but I find its more fluid. I developed my photoshop painting, texture and lighting through trial and error as well. Prior to art school, I taught myself photoshop for graphic design. I've never had a formal course on either! I'm sure there are dozens of things I could learn for each to improve, but as my friend says, if it ain't broke, don't fix it! 

Before all of that digital stuff, though, I studied drawing. I still do! I draw traditionally as much as I can. Neither a wacom, a copy of photoshop or even the best illustration tutorial can teach you how to draw. You have to study form, shape, flow, weight character.... You have to draw dozens - or rather hundreds - of bad drawings before getting to the good ones. 
What inspires you?
My husband. Music. My kitties. My moms. Nature! The ocean. Photography. Light. The world we live in is quite beautiful. 
What is the story behind the themes you illustrate?
I usually say I have three themes - love, solo girl and animals. I had a very difficult childhood. I never believed in much because of it. When I met my husband things changed pretty dramatically. It was like all the layers of anger and hurt fell away and I found this happy person inside. When I draw love that's the story. Love is pretty magical.

Solo girl is just that, influenced by my relationship with nature or myself. Introspective and hinting at hope, too.

Animals! I love them! I'm a lifelong vegetarian. Growing up my favorite animal was an elephant. I had the chance to visit a friend of mine living in Kenya. I scrimped and saved and went alone. On safari, I fed a giraffe with my own hands and saw basically every animal in the African savannah. I visited an elephant orphanage. I drew animals before, but after that experience I drew many, many more. I want to meet every animal! I am vehemently against zoos and aquariums, though, so my opportunities are limited and that's okay. If I get more chances I welcome them, and if not, my experience in Kenya will fuel me for many years to come. 
Your site is titled Everyday Love. How did you come up with this name and what is it’s significance?
It came from my daily drawings. I started drawing every day about 5 years ago. It's become weekly as I work on the graphic novel, but at the time I completed a full illustration 5 days a week. I drew from my love of animals, my husband and nature. Over the years I've created around 700 complete illustrations. 

The scenes are every day scenes cooking, walking, eating ice cream in bed. I believe that in each day there are many moments of love - everyday love. I also love drawing everyday, so it works that way too.
You have a new graphic novel coming out.  How did that come about and where 
could someone purchase it?
It will be available in 2016, I believe! Depending on when I get all the artwork done! I wrote and pitched the story back in 2013. I rewrote it many times that year and sold it to First Second (Macmillan) at the end of 2013. I have been working on the thumbnails this year and next year I hope to complete the final art. It will be my first long form story so I'm nervous, excited and... mostly nervous! 
What types of market do you create art for? (ie prints, cards…)
Prints, cards, gifts. I've been wood burning for a few years now and I'm working with a wonderful artist in LA that helps me translate my wood burning ideas into laser-etched pendants. I've also done freelance concept art, virtual stickers, patterns and editorial.
Are there links where more of your work can be seen and where your images can be purchased?
Do you have interest in other creative areas? (writing,music…)
I love to write. I also love cooking and baking. 

What is the thing you love best about what you do?
I love making people happy. When people write or come up to me at conventions and say that my work makes them smile - nothing beats that. It makes me feel like what I do matters and that's the best feeling.