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An Interview with Nidhi Chanani

We have many prints available in the store and online, but some of the most notable are those of Nidhi Chanani's. Nidhi's site is appropriately titled "Everyday Love", which in my opinion, definitely suits her prints depicting precious moments that almost anyone can relate to. Nidhi has been featured on Anderson Cooper and BBC Radio, and was awarded the title of "Champion of Change" at the White House in 2012. I had the pleasure of interviewing her myself via email; check out her answers below!

When did you first consider yourself an artist, and when did you realize that you wanted to pursue art as a career?
I clearly recall sitting in a workshop where the guest speaker said that we should begin our art careers by calling ourselves artists. There is a mental shift that comes from taking ownership of that title. Ever since I've called myself an artist.

Growing up with a predominantly Indian community, the idea of art as a career wasn't presented to me. It wasn't until after I received my degree from UC Santa Cruz in Literature in my early 20s that the idea of art as a career was introduced to me. I had actively started following some illustrators, reading their interviews and realizing... wait, they are paid to do this! I toyed with the idea as I jumped from one unsatisfying 9-5 to the next. After a particularly difficult time at one job (a job I didn't realize would be my last ever 9-5!) I decided to take the leap and enroll in art school.

Would you say that attending art school has helped you gain your bearings as an artist?
I am a proud art school drop out. I attended the Academy of Art in San Francisco for about a year and a half. I didn't drop out because I had some innate talent or hidden drafting skill that was revealed, I dropped out because at a certain point I felt limited by the way art is taught. Art is one field where it doesn't matter much if you have a degree, your portfolio can open doors for you. I do not regret my experience there, I learned valuable lessons in value, light and shadow, and many other basics I still use today. With any education it's what you make of it that matters most. I took what I learned and began to draw all the time... I created a new illustration every day for a few years and that became the basis of my business.

Also, congratulations on your Champions of Change award last year! How was that experience?
Being honored at the White House was a wonderfully shocking treat. The Champions of Change committee allowed us to bring guests so my close friends and family came with me to DC. It was truly an experience of a lifetime and reinforces my belief that when you pursue the things that make you happy, you never know what may happen. Sharing that experience with people that are dear to me will always make me smile.

From a purely technical standpoint (this is the art student in me speaking), to what extent do you rely on digital media for your illustrations? And do you ever plan on experimenting with more traditional media? (I also spotted the wood burned images, which are lovely!)
The vast majority of my illustrations are digital. I have played with wood burnings and watercolor over the past few years and I truly enjoy it. I feel that each medium has its benefits and drawbacks. We live in a time and place where digital tools mimic traditional and afford a lot of flexibility. I will always explore new mediums, and as an artist I don't know where that might take me next, but I do feel most strongly about digital.

I've been exploring your site, and I'm very interested in the series of prints for "Saturday School". Can you tell me more about what those are about?
Saturday school is a project that aims to highlight the beauty of Hindi. I wanted to create something that combined learning spoken and written Hindi with uplifting phrases about life. Since the beginning of this year, I have been posting a new phrase almost every week written three ways — in Devanagari, romanized Hindi and English. I am hoping to continue Saturday School into next year in a new format, but that's still in development!

What is your dream commission or project?
It's always been working on a kids book. But recently the idea of drawing on location in India, Italy, Hawaii, Japan or other places has been an enticing daydream.

What is your favorite spot in San Francisco?
Golden Gate Park

What is your favorite color?

Name one pet-peeve.
Using mobile devices while socializing

If you were an animal, what would you be and why?
I would be a sea turtle because I love the water, swimming and looking at fish!
If you are interested in more of Nidhi's work, you can visit her site here or see the prints we have at the store here.
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