Close your eyes and think about Sharks right now! What kind of images are playing in your head? "Oh! Those deadly fishes! Those Jaws!".... Did you just freak out? Well, your nightmares about Sharks won't stay anymore when you get to know Anju Sabu and her adorable Shark doodles. Come on! You are in for a ride...
When did you first start doodling?
Doodling - as long as I could remember, probably as early as 5 or 6 years old. It was just something I enjoyed and I was never really any good at the more visible arts like dancing or singing. I’ve never had any formal training in art though. The few summer classes I took always seemed to take the fun out of it!
How did the fascination of Sharks strike you?
I must have been about 8 or 9 years old when i first watched “Jaws” - yes, it was scary but it made me more interested in sharks than make me hate them. My dad had this Reader’s Digest book on Sharks that I’d browse almost everyday and we used to watch Shark documentaries together. Since then, the fascination grew because they are ultimately fascinating. They’re the ones that attract crowds to aquariums and make the best subjects or cameos for anything. Drawing them is an absolute pleasure.
Why is that you wanted to start doodling about Sharks?
Basically, I found them to be spectacular - the way they looked, moved and behaved. As I got older I learnt more about how many Shark species are endangered and how many are unaware of how important sharks are to the ocean and the earth. I had started doodling my character sometime in school and it resurfaced (pun intended) about 10 years ago and I’ve enjoyed drawing it regularly since. It has evolved/developed since which has also been fun to observe.
How do you deal with artist block/creativity block when it comes to doodling?
I usually jot down ideas when they come to me (and they do sometimes come at odd times) and use these ideas randomly. Other times, I continue learning about sharks, their behaviour and current shark news to get ideas. They’re always discovering new facts about sharks or discovering new species.
Who/What inspired to take up art?
All the cartoons and comics I watched and read as a child. And I watched and read a LOT of them! I used to be obsessed with old classic cartoons and comics and the funnies.
How does it feel to be working on something that you love the most?
It gives me a sense of purpose and joy. It can also be frustrating when other people don’t understand that joy or satisfaction.
Do you have an alternative profession from being a doodler? If yes, please share.
Yes, I do IT & Communications related work for a hospital. Not as exciting but I’m blessed to have a flexible workload.
Do you freelance as an artist and do work on commission? If yes, how happy are your customers with your work?
I have done several commissioned pieces and always welcome more. I have done some Shark conservation related art for non-profits in other countries and they have always been very supportive and encouraging. They tend to have more confidence than I do when they give me a task, so that helps.
What are your favourite hobbies?
Reading, watching movies/TV, traveling, collecting memorabilia, spending time with friends and family.
Apart from doodling, what other activities are you involved in?
I like to write and volunteer with causes. I also enjoy learning about wildlife and life on Earth. I’m also on the board of a couple of NGOs - they mainly have to do with women’s issues and developing self-worth among children.
Share with us some of your most memorable doodling moments.
Usually when my work is recognised by strangers and they ask me if I’m the one who did them. I’ve especially enjoyed having my art auctioned to raise funds for shark conservation.
If you had a chance to meet someone and learn from them, who would it be?
Quite a few Xhark folk: Cristina Zenato, Jim Toomey, Sylvia Earle, David Shiffman.
If you have learnt something from this experience of taking up art, what would it be?
That you will keep getting better as you keep doing it. And that there’s no point in waiting around for inspiration, sometimes you just need to keep drawing or sketching.
If you aren't a full-time doodling artist, are you planning to turn into one?
I would certainly like to but for now it would have to be only about 65% of my time.
Do you have any dream projects that you wanna take up?
A children’s book on Sharks - that adults would enjoy too.
What is art according to you?
It’s something that sparks joy in someone somewhere. Even if it is just an audience of one. It can be relative, it can be universal.
Any piece of advice for people who want to take up art but are struggling to move forward?
Everyone is an artist. It’s simply what makes us human. Use it to express yourself and use it for good.
Anju Sabu has completed Engineering and also has a Masters in Business Administration. She has always loved drawing Sharks and other cartoons for a really long time. She wants to break the misconception that prevails amongst people when it comes to Sharks and create an awareness about them. She also wants to lend her hand to help conserve Sharks in the world.
To check out her blog and her adorable Shark doodles, visit www.ohdakuwaqa.com.