Welcome to our new blog series, spotlighting different members of our Artists Helping Animals community! Our community of artists work in a multitude of mediums, and with all different kinds of animal welfare organizations, to help hundreds of thousands of animals each year. This interview was conducted by Executive Director, Lisa Tatsuko Prince Fishler, with Anuradha Grover (@Artpurrr), an international member in India whose cat portraits and graphic design work delight across the globe!
Lisa: Hi Anu! We’re excited to chat with you. Let’s start with a little bit of information about you. Where are you located?
Anu: Hello Lisa and thank you for connecting with me! A warm ‘Namaste’ from India to you, the entire HeART Speak team, and to all my fellow artists here. It is a huge honor and pleasure to share a little about myself with all of you. I live in Gurugram, India, also called the Millenium City, and is well known as a Financial and IT hub. We are a family of four: my husband, daughter, son & myself. Though each of us is a ‘cat person’ in our own right, my husband and I have especially dedicated our lives to the service of our eleven feline fur babies and a few stray cats around our neighborhood.
Lisa: Is Graphic Design what you do for your work?
Anu: Yes, I graduated in Applied Art from a premier art institute in New Delhi, India, and am a Graphic Designer by profession. In the past, I have worked with advertising agencies as a creative head & with leading educational book publishers as a designer and illustrator. Presently, I work from home as a freelancer since most of my time is spent caring for my cats, which is a 24-7 job! ArtPurrr has seamlessly merged itself into my life, helping me nurture my love for cats and passion for creativity. That is one space I love to be in — besides being home with my babies!
Lisa: Ok, back to your personal pets! Tell us more!
Anu: Oh yessss! As I have already mentioned, I have eleven cats: six girls and five boys. Here is some art of them that I am delighted to share with you!
Lisa: Beautiful work, and beautiful subjects! On Instagram, you specifically state that you do, “Cat Art,” and that you’re, “Genetically Feline.” Please elaborate!
Anu: Well, initially I did start my journey on Instagram creating ‘Cat Art’ (hence was born the name ArtPurrr) but slowly and surely, I found myself creating art for many many more people and their pets other than cats. Even though ‘Cat Art’ has stuck, I have graduated to becoming a ‘Pet Artist’ with many pet parents having their own art too made along with their precious pets.
Calling myself ‘Genetically Feline’, is truly a metaphor for my deep affinity and likeness to the feline species. ‘Affinity’ because I have been in the company of cats since my very early years and over the years have grown to understand and admire their personalities and also their each and every quirky trait. ‘Likeness’ because I identify and relate completely with their nature: give me food, give me my space, love me as I am, and let me live on my own terms! On another level, I believe that cats have a higher perception that helps them exist beyond the ordinary, and possess deep instinct and insight into a mystic realm which I align with in my own human way.
Lisa: You have such a beautiful, unique style. I especially love how you incorporate plants and other objects into your portraits. What prompted you to do this?
Anu: I try to make each art piece a ‘happy’ piece! There is nothing better than plants (always a winner!) There are also other personal, memorable, or sentimental objects that I like to incorporate after consulting with my customers to make each piece personal and special for them.
Lisa: Was there something in particular that happened, or someone you met, that inspired you to use your graphic design skills to help animals?
Anu: Undoubtedly, it was the passing of my fur-boy Ginger in 2015 that was the catalyst. I was completely devastated and coming to terms with his loss was a long long process. I was new to Instagram and to cope with my grief I followed and interacted with several cat accounts. I began coming across many accounts that needed financial help with their cats’ medical issues. Also, many accounts that were helping cats in need, shelters, and organizations that were in need of donations to sustain their good work. Simultaneously I also came across some accounts that were creating art of pets. I started having art of Ginger made by them and also started making art of cats from random accounts that inspired me in some way or the other. One day I received a request from a lady to make an art piece of her cat. That was the turning point and over time, ArtPurrr was born.
In India, there is a karmic theory that of whatever you earn you must always put 10% of it into a good cause as a way of giving back to the universe. So I started collecting brownie points towards good karma by donating some amount to help cats in need! Instagram proved to be an excellent platform for work, donating financially, and doing my bit to help animals through my art.
Lisa: With regards to the work you do to give back to animals, what do you find to be the most successful and / or most fun?
Anu: Each experience brings a new perspective and opens up an entirely new world of opportunity and exposure. For example, look at me right here, connecting with so many across the globe through your platform. What I love most is the limitlessness, the global oneness, the path I share with you towards a common goal – to make the world a better place for our fellow creatures. I love creating art to help animals in my own little way. All of this comes straight from the heart so it never is about success, I have never really perceived anything in those terms.
Lisa: What advice do you have for fellow Artists Helping Animals members on how to put their artwork out there so they can help more shelters?
Anu: If you really wish to do your bit to help more shelters, you need to keep an eye out for them, approach them and present them with any new ideas you have that could help. For example, you could put up a small display of your works for sale through them or have your art printed on merch for sale and donate the proceeds to them. Or you could auction off one of your works and raise funds for them. Social media like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are great tools and you need to be active in that space.
Most of the time shelters and organizations directly approach me via DM on Instagram. Sometimes when I come across a fundraiser or raffle that I connect with, be it online or locally in my country, I drop them a message and offer my art as a contribution in whichever way they need and then take it ahead from there.
Lisa: Are there other ways you work to helps animals? Please share!
Anu: Besides work, I have actively been feeding, caring and TNR-ing stray cats in our apartment complex since 2019. My husband and I are the only members of our team, but we try to do our bit for as many stray cats in our best possible, humble way we are able to. Stray dogs have many feeders and rescuers but stray cats are mostly misunderstood and looked past because of the many superstitions woven around them. I also always make it a point to make a donation to local shelters or small outfits dedicated to helping animals from each work order I receive.
Lisa: Has anyone found you via our Find an Artist map? What kind of work did you do for them?
Anu: Yes I definitely have had a wider exposure of my work through HeARTs Speak’s platform and have donated my art to raise funds for other organizations working towards animal welfare. I have created some really fun art for a variety of products and merchandise for sale to raise funds for them!
Lisa: I was just thinking about how photographers work is somewhat limited by location. Since you work in the digital space, you really aren’t, are you?
Anu: Fortunately, I am never limited by location in the digital space. Though modest and small, my work is still out there, sitting on many many shelves and hanging on walls all across the globe and that feels so good! Connecting with so many beautiful, like-minded souls across continents, sharing deep friendship bonds with those who I may never ever meet, being unconstrained of man-made boundaries is extremely fulfilling and liberating!
Lisa: Is there anything I’ve left out you’d like to share with fellow artists?
Anu: Always remember that as an artist, you have a rare gift. Share it with love and honesty. Also, some lines from a speech by Steve Jobs that will resonate with all my fellow artists: ‘Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do’.
Connect with Anu or see more of her amazing work on Instagram @Artpurrr!
Are you an artist interested in sharing your story or work? Email Lisa and Caitlin at [email protected]