Pen wielding warrior, Shanu Kaur, shares her experiences of being an artist.

Though Shanu Kaur works in telecoms, art plays a big role in her life and many of her peers view her primarily as an artist.


Photo by Saffron Mic
Photo by Saffron Mic

Name: Shanu Kaur

Describe what you do: I am an artist working under the name Krantikari Art. I draw/sketch comic book style art hoping to provoke the viewer to think. The pieces tend to be paired with a quote which I feel aptly illustrates the thought as I feel literature is also as important as art.

When and how did you realize this was the  path for you? I realised art was important to me when I was a child. My Dad and Mama Ji (maternal uncle) taught me how to draw and I learnt a lot from the marvel comic books my Dad had saved from his childhood.

What do you enjoy about your job the most? As much as I enjoyed drawing, I never seriously took time out to work on it and share until I got married and my husband encouraged me to take time out  every day to draw. I love how there are no wrong answers with art. And how art can connect people from all walks of life, on lots of different levels. I’m a terribly shy person and tend to find myself tongue-tied in front of an audience. Tools like Facebook and Instagram have been a godsend in that sense.

Considering it is nontraditional, what were your parents’ reaction? How did you deal with their response? My parents have always been encouraging and supportive. It was my own decision not to consider it as a career because I was the one with the “traditional” views when it came to a career-path. I don’t regret this though as I feel having art as a hobby means I don’t have to work under deadlines, chasing a paycheque or to anyone else’s expectations. I tried it. It sucked the fun out.

How do balance family and work and hobbies? I’m still working on a balance but I find the biggest hindrance is procrastination. Watching tv and sitting on social media disrupt the balance.

How do you feel Sikhi inspires your work?

I work under the pseudonym Krantikari which means revolutionary. I was always attracted to this word since I was a teenager. Before I got into Sikhi, I was a huge fan of  Krantikaris like Bhagat Singh. The Guru is a revolutionary by nature. Sikhi is a revolutionary movement. I say “is” because we focus on the past and the great acts of the Sikhs pre-now,  but don’t realize we should still be effecting change in all parts of society. And not only for ourselves. My art hopes to not only educate the ignorant but help you reflect on the times we live in and how we can all be revolutionaries by nature.

"I challenge the Darkness. If nothing else, then at least around myself, I will not let it settle. Around myself I will establish Light.’” Shanu Jodhie Kau sketching a live piece of Jaswant Singh Khalra for the Ensaaf at Saffron Mic.
“I challenge the Darkness. If nothing else, then at least around myself, I will not let it settle. Around myself I will establish Light.’” Shanu Jodhie Kau sketching a live piece of Jaswant Singh Khalra for the Ensaaf at Saffron Mic.

What elements of Sikh values are in your work? Part of why I started drawing again was because I was frustrated with not being able to make a change. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think my work really changes the world but I draw in the hope that in the very least, somebody is thinking or reflecting…

What lessons have you learned about Sikhi through your work? I’ve learnt how to be patient. I think part of being an artist is never being satisfied by how your work turns out. You always want to do better. I’ve also had lessons in humility. Most of the people who appreciate my work have given me so much love and encouragement it can be very overwhelming.

What advice do you have for young Kaurs who are unsure of what career they should pursue? My advice for young Kaurs would be to explore what values matter to them the most; and to think about what sort of impact they want to make in the world. I would also encourage them to seek out the support and advice from sangat — we are very fortunate to have the sense of community where everyone wants to help one another.  And to always remember — Where there’s a will there’s a way!

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“From now until the end of the world, we and it shall be remembered. We few, we Band of Brothers. For he who sheds his blood with me shall be my brother.” Shakespeare, Henry V. Shaheeds General Labh Singh KCF and Jathedar Gurjit Singh Jokharihar.

 

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“Even if one’s head were to be suddenly cut off, he should be able to do one more action with certainty. With martial valor, if one becomes like a vengeful ghost and shows great determination, though his head is cut off, he should not die,” Hagakure. Shaheed General Shabeg Singh.

 

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Once, Baba Daya Singh was talking to Baba Bishan Singh (Jathedar Tarna Dal – Baba Bakala). They began to discuss an article which claimed a French horse rider had such skill that he could race a horse at full speed and be able to spear a target on the ground with a lance at the same time. They began discussing if this was even possible when Bhai Avtar Singh Brahma, who had been sitting quietly til then, spoke up and said “If the Frenchman can do that, then a Guru Ka Sikh can ride TWO horses whilst standing and do the same.” Surprised by this, the Singhs challenged him to prove it. Bhai Avtar Singh brought two horses, sitting on one and holding the reign of the other. He began to race them and as he reached top speed he began to stand up on both. Bhai Brahma with his neja then pierced a stake into the ground, placed as his target and threw it up in the air.
"My idea of feminism is self-determination, and it's very open-ended: every woman has the right to become herself, and do whatever she needs to do."
“My idea of feminism is self-determination, and it’s very open-ended: every woman has the right to become herself, and do whatever she needs to do.”