From the very beginning, I have enjoyed drawing animals and for as long as I can remember I knew that both art and animals would always form an integral part of my life. While I initially wanted to become a veterinarian, I soon found that I was better suited to the arts as I simply did not have a head for numbers!
I obtained my Bachelor's Degree in Fine Arts in Montreal, then went on to study Visual Communication Design in Edmonton, Alberta, where I obtained my Masters Degree. In Montreal, I worked as a training designer in the flight simulation industry and in Edmonton, I taught design at college level. I then moved to Basel, Switzerland where I was a training specialist for an IT firm, which then lead me to work in the UK financial industry as a graphic designer. That is when I decided that I wanted to do something meaningful with my life.
I left my job and went to Kerala, India, for 6 months to volunteer for an animal rescue organisation where I worked with the street dogs and helped run the rescue centre. Upon my return to the UK, I co-ran a small graphic and web design partnership, before joining International Animal Rescue as their full-time web and graphic designer. I am now a freelance designer and divide my time between work projects, drawing and fostering elderly dogs for the Oldies Club as a volunteer. I have recently adopted a Romanian stray named Ladybug who reminds me every day of the important things in life.
Why I am vegan
I have been vegan since 2002, two years after becoming vegetarian.
I have always loved animals and volunteered in rescues, but like so many people, while I was aware of the suffering involved in the rearing of animals for 'food' and was against animal research and testing, I shamefully turned a blind eye to what I then believed to be 'necessary evils'. Then one day in 2000, I could no longer ignore the cruelty. I cannot recall what exactly caused the breakthrough, it was more of a cumulative effect which finally brought all the instances of animal cruelty together to form a horrific picture of the world of abuse animals live in.
Becoming vegan was the next logical step for me in living compassionately as I learned about the inherent cruelty of the egg and dairy industries and how, as a vegetarian, I was in fact supporting the meat trade I abhorred and making it economically viable.
A major turning point came when I read Peter Singer's 'Animal Liberation'. It changed the way I viewed the world - Animals are innocent; They have no voice, nor do they have a choice. That is when I decided that I would do everything I could to avoid adding to their suffering, and that I could lead a perfectly happy and healthy life without relying on animal products. I have never looked back since, and it was the best decision of my life.
Why I support Viva's Art for Animals project
Art is inspiring, as are animals, and for me the two go hand in hand. I believe every individual has a responsibility to put their skills and talents to good use.
I have been a great admirer of Viva!'s campaigns ever since I moved to the UK in 1999 and believe that education is essential to changing people's perceptions and misconceptions about how we use and abuse animals needlessly for our so-called 'benefit'. Organisations like Viva! are vital in their tireless efforts to raise awareness of the plight of animals and I am proud to be part of the 'Art for Animals' project and do my part in helping.
How to raise money for Viva!
I will donate 20% of every sale of a commissioned portrait to Viva!. The client is kindly requested to mention that they wish to support Viva! in their email when they contact me via www.portraitsbyaura.co.uk or by emailing me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Once I receive payment, I will in turn make the corresponding donation to Viva!