Anu Chouhan was born and raised in Surrey and moved to Burnaby as a teenager. Since her childhood, she has loved to draw. “I used to love watching cartoons, Disney movies,” she recalls, “and even as a three-year-old I would try to draw what I saw on the screen.” This passion for art was eventually supported by her parents. Sure, they definitely expressed concern about my career prospects as a creative, and suggested that I may want to consider going to law school,” she says with a laugh, “but they were always there to support me in my dreams. Even if they didn’t always understand what I was working on, they at least tried to understand. And they never made me feel like I had to change who I was.”
“When I was in high school, I started to take my interest in illustration more seriously. I started to think at that time that I wanted to do this for my career,” Anu reveals. In 2011, she graduated with a BA in Interactive Arts and Technology from Simon Fraser University. She then continued to pursue her education and hone her skills by enrolling at Capilano University, in the Commercial Animation program. “I loved video games, I loved Disney, I loved Japanese Anime, Bollywood … they have all influenced my art.” Anu also finds inspiration from her surroundings. “I feel like being in nature inspires me,” she enthuses. “We have so many great places we can hike to, we live in such a great part of the world. I also love to listen to music. Whether recorded music or at a concert, music is also a huge inspiration for me.”
Anu has continuously honed her talents. “I did two years at Capilano University, and during this time I continued to develop my style. After I graduated and began working as a mobile game artist, I began to post my art online, through my own Instagram handle, Anumation.” Within a few years, her following has grown from a few hundred to well over twenty-thousand followers. “After a while, I began to notice that I was getting a following online,” Anu recalls. “And through that forum, I started receiving requests from others to commissioned work for them. I realized then that I could not only share my art online, but that I could turn it into a business.”
“My main goal through my art is to tell a story,” Anu explains. “Even just through one still image, I want to tell a story. Many of my characters are South Asian women. I think it is important to see characters that look like you. I want to encourage girls that they can be whatever they want to be, to be empowered by the images that they see.”
Anu thinks there are many other artists with great potential just waiting for the opportunity to express themselves. “Opportunities in the creative arts field have grown so much in the past twenty years,” she explains. “Many parents didn’t even know that such opportunities existed. So sure, the opportunities to be a successful lawyer or doctor exist, but so do the opportunities to be a successful artist.”
The future looks limitless for this young, driven artist. “I continue to build my brand, I have an online store where I sell prints, t-shirts and more. And one of my goals is to do more art shows. I have participated in a few in the past, and I look forward to being more involved and networking with other artists, as well as someday holding my own art show.”
“It makes me happy to see people from all over the world, interacting with my art in such a positive way,” Anu concludes.