DSC0737 712x1024 1
DSC0737 712x1024 1

We had a chance to sit down with Jasmin Pannu, a Canadian artist who is taking over the art space! Her unique mural style has led her to have exhibits at the Royal Ontario Museum and the Happy Place installation in Toronto. She has worked on numerous incredible projects, and so, an exclusive tête-à-tête was completely warranted!

[Jasmin Pannu stands proud in front of Drake’s lyrics that she painted on the wall for the Happy Place Installation.] 1. How did you fall in love with art?

I fell in love with art from a very young age. In fact, two of my earliest memories involve art. In one, the family that rented our basement invited us downstairs for our weekly Hindi movie night. The aunt applied henna on my hands with a toothpick and I remember being so mesmerized! In the second, I was sitting on my grandma’s kitchen table as she taught me how to fabric paint and showed me beautiful table cloths, hand-painted by family members, that she had kept for more than a decade. These early experiences showed me how art could be a part of identity, beauty, and culture, and I loved that.

From there I started drawing often, to later picking up henna, hand-painting shoes and clothes, teaching art classes, painting murals, and today, being a professional artist.

2. How did you turn art from a passion to a career?

I think it’s important to say here that I didn’t always set out to create art into my career. After university, I worked in corporate marketing for about five years before leaving to become a career artist. And prior to that, even though I started making money from art from the age of 15-16, I didn’t consider it as part of my plan.

Here’s why: I didn’t think becoming an artist was possible/practical, so in spite of making good money from it and loving it, I chose not to claim it.

The predominant narrative was that the Arts were not lucrative, it was a ‘hobby’ and could not support a lifestyle—plus it didn’t help that there was very little representation of South Asians. On the other hand, corporate jobs were painted as cushy, dreamy and the ultimate goal. So, a part of why I tell my story is to help change this narrative.

Having done both now, I can say out of the sheer experience that the Arts can and do support a lifestyle. My career in Marketing was going well and at the point that I chose to leave, I had worked for some really big names and been honored with a few awards, but ultimately, my passion won out. When I chose to leave corporate, I was only a year and a half into my mortgage—so becoming an artist was as much about building a lucrative business as it was about living a life aligned with my talents.

To this day, when I hear people discourage their children from taking up Art in academia, or use terms like ‘starving artist,’ I cringe. But, I have no regrets that I went down the conventional salary-job path because I can now say without a shred of doubt that becoming an artist is esteemed, lucrative, and one hell of a lifestyle.

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Toronto-Based Artist Who’s Creating Waves in the Art World

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