Jyothee “JYXDI” Murali with her various art pieces. Photos courtesy: JYXDI

Jyothee “JYXDI” Murali is a 24-year-old Sri Lankan artist. JYXDI took a risk when she dropped out of university to pursue her passion for art. The leap of faith paid off immensely and she has amassed a large audience on platforms such as Instagram, where she has 150,000* followers. JYXDI is known for her anime fan art, but also creates original art pieces.

Habiba Abudu (HA): What did you study in post-secondary school and when did you realize that was not the path for you?

Jyothee “JYXDI” Murali (JM): I started drawing when I was two; I was scribbling on the walls, running around the house—my parents just let me be. I started painting when I was 10, it was something I always loved doing. However, I decided to study math and finance in university because I was interested and good at them.

When I was going to my lectures in school there was always something bothering me in terms of personal satisfaction and happiness. I felt a void since I was not pursuing what I wanted to do. Eventually, the love for my craft motivated me to chase my dreams and I dropped out of university at the end of second year.

A work-in-progress of an oil painting of the anime series My Hero Academia.

HA: When you decided to pursue art full-time, how did people react?

JM: I became a full-time artist in 2017; my parents weren’t comfortable with my decision at first and questioned the financial stability of the field. However, I insisted in pursuing my dreams and worked hard to achieve my goals. Eventually my parents accepted my career choice after seeing my capability and commitment to my craft.

At first, I was working as an art instructor at Pinot’s Palette where I taught more than 500 people in three months. However, I decided to leave as I got really busy with my brand, JYXDI.  Working hard for me was putting in extra hours and staying up late—sometimes at 3 and 4 a.m.—painting.

JYXDI with “Gaia – mother nature” oil painting.

HA: Was the first year of being a full-time artist easy? What challenges did you encounter and how did you overcome them?

JM: It wasn’t easy nor hard. I enjoyed what I was doing, so I didn’t worry about the income at first. Aside from being an art instructor, I didn’t have any other sources of income. There were times when I had to borrow money from my family to buy materials, but after working on my brand for three months I was able to financially support myself.

I just kept releasing exclusive content for the love of art. Eventually more people started seeing my potential and began to buy my paintings through Instagram. I believe paint and canvases are all you need to create masterpieces.

A Rick and Morty glow-in-the-dark wall mural completed in Etobicoke, Ont.

HA: There are many art accounts on social media, but not all have the large following that you do. What do you attribute this success online to?

JM: My niche was anime which has a huge fan base worldwide. My account started gaining attention online when I began creating Naruto paintings, as the audience loved my unique designs. I use my own style of art which infuses a spiritual element of galaxies and universes. I provide final touches to anime art by painting blue and purple colours with a mixture of white, bright stars as a background.

A Naruto-themed Michael B. Jordan character design piece JYXDI created in collaboration with Coach.

HA: What is one highlight of your career so far?

JM: I did a collaboration with Coach in 2019, for Michael B. Jordan’s Naruto-themed clothing line. Michael loves Naruto and when he discovered my art, he hand-picked me and two other people from the U.S. to represent Coach at New York Comic-Con. Not only did I attend the event, Coach had me draw Michael as a Naruto character, which was promoted in a video shot at Coach’s headquarters. It was a great opportunity to increase brand awareness and expand my audience.

HA: What advice would you give to those who are thinking of a career change?

JM: Always follow your heart, and eventually with consistency and hard work, things will work out in your favour. Never listen to anyone who doesn’t support your passion and learn to block out the noise. Take the risk and you will be rewarded. Go at it and own it.

JYXDI with “In the shadow of the waves” oil painting.

HA: To end this interview on a fun note, what are some anime you are watching?

JM: When I have free time, I watch Parasyte on Netflix.

  • This is JYXDI’s follower count the time the article was published and will most likely increase in number.