February Eco-Artist: Below and Beyond Art Interview
Updated: Mar 4, 2021
Each month Shark Guardian selects an artist that goes above and beyond (and in this case below and beyond!) the call of duty for the sake of the ocean and all its inhabitants. We believe that artists, like photographers, play a vital and often underestimated role in ocean conservation. They inspire, educate and cultivate passions that may never had been sparked. Each month during 2021 we are shining a light on some of the great artists we’ve had the privilege of working with - come join us!
Our first eco-artist and February feature is the wonderful Below and Beyond Art. So without further ado, Janavi take to the stage!
A little background to begin with, please introduce yourself. My name is Janavi Kramer and I am a British Nautical Artist and the face behind Below and Beyond Art. I work with a variety of mediums but love using watercolour and archival inks. The goal of all my work is to articulate the magic of the ocean; not only hoping to evoke the same passion in others but also to highlight the threats impacting the ocean and all the species within it.
When did you first become interested in the ocean?
I spent much of my childhood fascinated by nature documentaries such as Blue Planet. I was simply mesmerised by the endless wonders and seemingly mythical creatures that were presented on the screen. So much so in fact, that I would frequently plead with my parents to take me to the seaside so that I could wade into the ocean and clamber through rock pools to document my own discoveries. And the fascination only deepened with the more I learnt!
What’s the best thing you’ve seen underwater?
The best and most memorable moment underwater was my first time encountering an Oceanic Manta Ray. As it emerged out of the blue, I can describe what I felt only as pure euphoria. Watching this majestic species dance in the gentle currents around me was nothing less than magic. The presence of both elegance and power was so captivating to witness. This moment inspired my ambition to contribute towards ocean conservation and to this day they are a continuous source of inspiration to my creative process.
As a diver, we have to ask what's the best place you've ever dived?
I have been so lucky with the experiences I have had so far but Indonesia has always held a special place in my heart as it is where I lived for several months whilst I completed my Dive Master and the ocean there truly felt like home. Almost every dive is like an attack on the senses; rich with diversity, colour and spoilt for choice with different species to observe!
Have you met any sharks on your underwater adventures yet?
To date, I have only had the privilege to dive with Grey Reef sharks, Blacktip Reef sharks and Whitetip Reef sharks - but I have many adventures planned to dive with more!
What's your favourite shark and why?
My favourite shark has always been the infamous Great White Shark. It is so heartbreakingly misunderstood and yet I believe it is one of the most majestic and incredible species in the Ocean.
Tell us about a favourite Below and Beyond Art project of yours?
One of my favourite pieces I've done this year was a reef mural comission. The piece was requested for a little girls room who lives by the sea. The process of creating it was incredibly rewarding because the goal was not to create a perfect representation of the environment but more so to illustrate the magic below the surface. It was such honour to paint something that would hopefully inspire a young person to grow to love the ocean and evoke the same curiousity and passion that I had as a child too!
What do we have to look forward to from Below and Beyond Art in the future?
In the near future I will be launching a new project that is focused on the ocean at our doorstep. One great lesson I learnt last year, as I'm sure many others experienced, was to truly appreciate our surroundings and the value of natural world. This deeper connection to nature; whether it was simply in the garden or exploring the rugid British coastlines, truly came when I was forced to stop seeking far flung adventures in tropical climates and instead dived into the ocean right under my nose. The more I learnt about what inhabitated our waters the more I realised how much there was to experience - and it was mind blowing! Sadly, due to the lack of recognition of this, there is still so much damage being forced upon our very own corner of the ocean. This project will seek to spread awareness of all the amazing and fascinating species that inhabit the environment surrounding us. My goal in doing this is to inspire more people to support the conservation efforts being made by various charities and organisations - including Shark Guardian! - and to get out there and see it for themselves.
What is a hobby of yours outside of creating art?
It will not come as a huge surprise but my other passion is diving! Wherever and whenever there is water, I will always want to dive! It was my love of diving that opened my eyes to all the wonders of the ocean but also the rapid impacts of threats such as overfishing and climate change. I am also a qualified PADI Divemaster and began my diving journey in 2014. I have since been lucky enough to dive in so many places such as Indonesia, Philippines, Iceland, Spain and the UK. After spending the best part of 2020 in a 7mm, I have taken the plunge to invest in my own drysuit and am hoping to become an instructor this year too!
What is a favourite quote of yours and why?
“In the end, we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand and we will understand only what we are taught.” - Baba Dioum
Never has a quote resonated with me as much as this one. And never has a quote been as relevant and powerful as during a moment in time where we are witnessing the collapse of the environment. Despite the painful irony that many of the issues and threats were caused by our species, most of the destructive behaviour comes from a lack of understanding and connection. This quote serves as a constant inspiration for me and is the driving force to use my art as a tool for communciation. I hope to connect those that are perhaps disconnected or unware of what is at stake and the beauty worth protecting.
Now is the time to be extra proud of the charitable work that Below and Beyond Art does! Tell us about some of the support you've provided for ocean organisations.
Being in a position to support charities is actually the element of my work I'm most proud of! My mission is not only to help spread awareness of the threats impacting the ocean but to support those working tirelessly to protect them. As someone who has volunteered with charities in the UK such as Marine Conservation Society for several years, I know just how much hard work gets invested both behind the scenes and in front so it is always something I have wanted to find a way contribute towards. Art is an incredibly powerful tool and it is such an enriching experience to be able to use it to help communicate with a wider audience and spread the message on behalf of charities.
I am only at the beginning of my journey but so far I have had the honour of becoming a creative partner with Shark Guardian. This means I donate a percentage of each sale of my Basking Shark print directly to Shark Guardian. The other collaboration opportunity I have had is to become a Commerical Supporter for Manta Trust which is a similar relationship in which a percentage of sales goes towards their charity.
Though it can be a real struggle to start a small business - especially in the world we are in right now - I find every sale incredibly rewarding because I know myself and those who support my work are also helping conserve the precious ocean and its' inhabitants. My goal is to grow the range of paintings, prints and products I can offer to support and contribute towards the invaluable work Shark Guardian and other charities do.
How can people best support your art?
As with any small business, you can always support my work either through purchasing my creations (such as originals, prints and stickers) or commissioning your own unqiue painting of ocean magic. Part of my mission is to get to a stage where I can donate a percentage of all my work to various ocean conservation charities and support the invaluable work they do. With that all being said, I fully understand that it has been an incredibly difficult year for everyone for a variety of reasons. It is still possible to support me simply through liking and sharing my work across social media which helps me on my mission to spread awareness of the ocean and the precious species within it.
You can get your hands on a signed basking shark print from Janavi which supports Shark Guardian's work here. You can find Janavi and Below and Beyond Art on Instagram, Facebook, Etsy and via her website using using the links below.
If you liked this, we think you might like these too: