Every month ICAI awards an immigrant or newcomer artist with its prestigious Artist of the Month award. The award is aimed at spotlighting emerging artists to help them establish a presence in the arts community or increase their presence. We promote the Artist of the month and their artwork on our social media platforms to aid them in connecting with new audiences. The artist is also interviewed by both ICAI and CKUA Radio.
The Immigrant Council for Arts Innovation (ICAI) is excited to announce that the Artist of the Month for November is the visual artist, Anil Yadav, a former ICAI IAMP program cohort mentored by interdisciplinary artist Francis A. Willey. Anil never thought of becoming a professional artist before living in Calgary. We are very proud to see how Anil has grown as an artist and we want to share with you his amazing journey.
An Architect, born and raised in the city of New Delhi, Anil decided to come to Calgary to study City Planning, a decision that changed his life and opened a door that he never could have imagined: becoming a professional artist.
You have an amazing story to share, tell us about your journey.
I started drawing in middle school and when I started a new lesson or a new chapter, the teacher made us draw something related to that subject. They introduce you to so many things at school, and drawing was one of the things that I enjoyed.
I got started when I was recognized in school, and they took my drawing to a competition.
In our community in India, nobody wanted us to become professional artists because most families think of the academy first to study (because they promise you a better job and better pay). I didn’t see anything in the community that would allow me to become an artist, it never came to my mind that I could pursue a career in becoming a professional artist.
I chose Architecture because I was looking for a career that matches my interests. It was something that I could pursue, and I could use my artistic hobby.
What happened in here Calgary? What changed? What made you become a professional artist?
I started to work in India and was struggling. I knew that other people that studied with me went to different countries to study abroad: USA, UK, Europe. So, I was thinking I can do it too and soon came to Canada.
Studying City Planning here, I draw like I used to in India. I found out that in almost all assignments I could draw. The difference was when I submitted my assignments with my drawings and made my presentations, the response was different and that was something that I have never experienced before. I found out that in Canada, people are more attracted to the art they want to engage with, and they want to see more. Faculty members and students encouraged me to do more.
They have a "Tiny Frames Contest" which is whatever artwork you have, they take it, and put your art in an auction for sale. The first year I ignored it but later I saw so much artwork on the wall, I decided to do it and I did. I submitted about 20 art pieces, sold them all, and my contribution was the highest. That was a big thing for me because I realized that art is valuable here and it is not just a hobby.
After that, there were some more competitions at the University level, so I submitted my things and won. This started to build my confidence, and I kept drawing and drawing, and more people started to respond. I soon found ICAI and I applied.
ICAI has played an important role in your journey. How was your experience in the IAMP program at ICAI? How does it help you?
The ICAI Mentor Program was something that opened a very big window for me, connecting me with the arts industry and allowed me to see what is happening in Calgary in the arts. It was a lot of weekly presentations as well as monthly presentations. ICAI brought so many other artists to present to us, and they brought more resources like funding;. They taught us how to feel more as artists, and how you need to grow and become in this practice. ICAI brought resources that I didn’t know about it.
Having a mentor was very important because I wanted to ask many questions about so many things. I’m still connected to my mentor today, I just had a meeting with them a few days ago, and he took me to an art show. He is helping me meet other people and see the world. He is a very good mentor.
What new skills do you have now that make you a better artist?
First, I started to draw new things that I couldn’t draw before, I learned. Second, at this stage, I think taking my art out in the public and advertising is another skill that I’m learning. And third is how I present my works to people to make them understand why I draw what I draw and how it makes a difference.
At this point in your career, what inspires you?
The power of art to connect and influence people's mindsets is my biggest inspiration. We live in a beautiful world, and everything around us has meaning and energy. Through my artwork, I want to show those little moments that we miss, take a pause, and see how beautiful life is and we should not waste time.
Everything so far seems so natural and so smooth in your journey here in Calgary. What about challenges?
The only thing that was a struggle for me were the many assignments to do. There are a lot of things to do at University and I didn’t have much time to sit down and make my art.
It is hard to keep the balance between my actual job and making art. I hope one day I can become a full-time artist.
Tell us about the Nazaria experience, your exhibition in the Calgary Library in Downtown?
After my exhibition at the Arts Common in March, I have seen so many exhibitions and realized that they had a story to tell. The exhibition in the Downtown Calgary Library is about something: it has a story, and a purpose.
Nazaria means viewpoint, which is a perception and how you understand things. This Nazaria is the initial starting point for me. I think with this Nazaria here which I’m trying to make art, we see the world we want to live in and be surrounded by good people, good fortune, and so many other things.
You have been in Calgary for three years and had already two exhibitions - what are your plans?
Because of those exhibitions, my confidence is high and when you get the confidence you achieve anything. In this short time, I plan to get better in what I’m doing, be good in how I advertised my work, and bring it to the people and get more public views as possible and get better at talking about my art, there is a big story, there is something good behind it.
I just want to get better because there are so many good artists, and if I want to create an individual identity, I have to focus more and create good art that can change people's mindsets.
What is your message for other immigrant artists?
The biggest message that I have is first to believe in yourself in whatever you are doing. When you start believing in yourself you start getting better at it and you can go way ahead of what you are now.
Don’t compare your skills with other artists, every lifestyle and story are different. Instead, compare yourself; where you were yesterday in terms of skill set with where you are today, so you can monitor how you are growing.
It was a pleasure to talk with Anil about his journey, ICAI feels very proud of the artist he has become. We would like to extend our thanks!