This artist created the illusion of rivers on a busy road in West Bengal’s Chandannagar

You may have seen Punam Choudhary on social media by now, drawing 3D art on the streets. We track her down in Chandannagar, West Bengal

Published - December 20, 2023 04:59 pm IST

Punam is seen in drawing a 3D art.

Punam is seen in drawing a 3D art. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

A woman in sari with her head covered, is often seen on social media drawing 3D art on the streets. She neither speaks nor interacts in the video but just goes about drawing. Her Instagram handle, Punam Art Academy has been garnering love from her followers for all the right reasons.

She creates rivers, mountains, an underground well with stairs and even a whale that appears to emerge from under the street, all this with just charcoal and chalk. The art is so real that it confuses people on the street when they suddenly see the road ‘becoming’ a river or a bridge.

Artist Punam Choudhary’s 3D art is so real that it can confuse people on the street.

Artist Punam Choudhary’s 3D art is so real that it can confuse people on the street. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

On her social media handles she can be seen sharing easy drawing tips by either drawing on a dusty or foggy car window, sometimes on a slate or a blackboard, and most of the times, 3D drawings on the street outside her home.

Punam says that it took her some time to realise that one doesn’t need to dress fashionably or speak English to get popular on social media. “It all started when my husband, Chandan Choudhary and I, came across TikTok where we saw people share all kinds of videos,” she says. (This was in 2019, when TikTok was accessible in India.)

Watch | Meet the woman who draws 3-D art on streets
| Video Credit: Special Arrangement

“I suggested that he join the platform as an opportunity to share his artistic skills with the world. We bought a second hand phone worth ₹5,000 and began the journey. Within 24 hours, Chandan gained 2.5 lakh followers. Within a few days he started earning around ₹ 8,000 per month from TikTok,” shares 34-year-old Punam who is a post-graduate in History and holds a B.Ed degree. The couple saved money they earned from their videos and upgraded their phone.

A 3D art of an underground well with stairs done by Punam using just charcoal and chalk.

A 3D art of an underground well with stairs done by Punam using just charcoal and chalk. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Her reason for joining video sharing platforms is to share tips on drawing with people interested in drawing and also to share her talent, with the world out there. Her followers on Instagram are 719k and on YouTube she has 838k subscribers. In a way, the videos have also helped Punam gain self-esteem and get comfortable in her skin.

She has also been trying to get a job in a government school for years now. “Seeing me frustrated at not being able to land government job as a Hindi teacher despite being shortlisted, Chandan suggested that I join TikTok in early 2020, and share my art with people. He thought it would keep me distracted. I was hesitant, concerned about how my relatives would react seeing me on social media. But Chandan schooled me on how these social stereotypes do not matter and I should focus on art not my clothes,” says Punam. However within a week, the app was banned in India. Later in September 2020 she joined Instagram and YouTube in April 2022.

All the artistic action happens at Bhadreswar town in Chandannagar, West Bengal right outside Punam’s home.

All the artistic action happens at Bhadreswar town in Chandannagar, West Bengal right outside Punam’s home. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

All the artistic action happens at Bhadreswar town in Chandannagar, West Bengal right outside Punam’s home. Her husband’s friend, a neighbour and a software engineer, guided her through the technicalities of social media.

Her debut 3D art video was a massive flower pot that she drew on her terrace in November 2022, and that was just the beginning. Through her videos, she has been earning ₹ 5 to 7 lakh per annum from YouTube and couple of other video making apps.

“It is very encouraging when people reach out and tell me that they feel proud to see my work,” says Punam who doesn’t like the concept of paid collaboration on Instagram and she adds, “I am an artist, and my ambition is to draw as I want it and not get dictated by someone for the sake of collaboration.”

Chandan encouraged Punam to focus on art and not worry about social stereotypes.

Chandan encouraged Punam to focus on art and not worry about social stereotypes. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Punam doesn’t draw 3D art every day but regularly shares tips on art. “I am a homemaker too. Everyday my husband and I discuss and think what can we draw next, so brainstorming goes on while I am doing household chores. Initially when I started 3D, it took me five hours. Depending on the size of the 3D drawing, small ones take up to 30 minutes whereas the larger ones can take an hour and half to draw. I practice a lot before shooting a video to get perfection. The simple drawings take three to five minutes. I only draw an hour-and-a-half hour before sunset to avoid sun’s shadow,” shares Punam.

Punam with her husband, Chandan, drawing a 3D art.

Punam with her husband, Chandan, drawing a 3D art. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

It was her late father’s dream to see her turn as an artist. “When I was in Class 7, my father got me into a drawing school but I couldn’t continue after two years due to financial crunch as we were three siblings. He passed away a few years ago, he would have been very happy to see videos if he were alive today. It makes my mother happy to see videos of my drawing,” says Punam who along with her husband teaches drawing to underprivileged children at free of cost on every Sunday throughout the winter season in their terrace.

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