Nancy Raj (37), Illustrator
I took up Fine Arts for my masters when I was young. At the time, people were usually taking engineering or doctorate courses. People used to think I did Finance because it sounded the same. At the time, there was no course for illustration. Now, there is. I got into illustrating by chance. There was a job request on my college notice board. I illustrated some placards for hearing impaired children. It didn’t pay too well, but I really enjoyed doing it. I base my art on the things around me and my environment, so everything is very south Indian. I would draw a teacher with a bun and wearing a cotton saree, and dark-skinned. It also appeals to children and adults alike. I went to work in a corporate company for about a decade as a designer. While the job paid well, it involved me sitting inside from morning to night with no interaction with the environment. So a few years ago, I decided to leave and take up illustration full-time. It was hard and my parents were worried about my financial stability. But I saved up enough money to pay off loans and EMI and had enough as a cushion once I left. The first few months were tough, but I managed to pull through. I still feel as though I don’t get paid enough. In the West, there is an appreciation for art, which is not here. Many do not know the behind-the-scenes effort that goes into producing one piece of art. To those who chose art as a profession, I say work hard and be passionate, because that will drive you to success.