Sneaky art pops up in the Eau Claire area

Tangled Up In Hue featured a new pop up shop artist

Timothy Spierings

More stories from Timothy Spierings


Photo by Alee Erickson

Nishant Jain, otherwise known as The Sneaky Artist, sits down to doodle his surroundings and those who pick up his book.

With just a small sketchbook and one pen, Nishant Jain has managed to create an entire book of artwork by sneaking around Eau Claire.

Jain was featured for his second time in Tangled Up In Hue’s pop-up shop this past Saturday. On the table were copies of his book, Sneaky Art of Eau Claire.

As stated on Jain’s website, “sneaky art” is the practice of drawing beauty from the world around you without drawing attention to yourself.

“The reason I started being sneaky about it was because I was so bad at it,” Jain said. “I didn’t want people to see how bad I was so I wouldn’t show anyone my drawings. So it was sneaky art, I would draw people and get out before they found out I’m drawing terrible drawings of them.”

Sarah Hammes-Murray, a store manager at Tangled Up In Hue, said artists can submit their works online to be reviewed to be in the pop-up shops.

“We were like, ‘Yes, we need this in our store. It’s amazing,’” Hammes-Murray said. “He was super new to selling his work and getting his work out in the community, and obviously everything just blossomed from there because his stuff is amazing.”

Jain said he started drawing when he was a kid, but he wasn’t very good at it and stopped drawing for a long time. In his final year of his mechanical engineering undergrad, Jain started drawing a webcomic.

“Just to sort of make fun of my friends and have a laugh,” Jain said. “I’d draw with stick figures because I was not very good at drawing and I kept that up.”

Jain quit his job to become a writer and artist for a while, and he said that’s when he decided he needed to draw better. Starting in Chicago where he lived for a year — Jain would walk to different parts of Chicago every day and sketch what he saw.

Slowly, Jain said, his art began to improve by drawing from observation.

“I’d carry a small sketchbook and just a pen,” Jain said. “So I couldn’t erase anything. I couldn’t go back in any way, all of the mistakes were my mistakes.”

After moving to Eau Claire, Jain said that he felt the best way to learn the city was to continue his sneaky art practice.

At his pop-up shop, Jain brought the first sketchbook of Eau Claire he has and said that his first time at the Acoustic Cafe, ECDC and Music in the Park are all included inside.

“We have this pop up shop so we can come and meet and talk with the artists,” Hammes-Murray said. “It’s beneficial to the artists because they can personally sell their product. Like I said, it’s easier to sell something if you can explain to a customer what it is and what it means to you.”

Jain said being minimal is part of why his sneaky art works for him. Without placing necessity on having a lot of tools and a lot of stuff to set up, he can draw as soon as he finds a subject.

“If you associate too many things as necessary to your drawing process then you hold this high price on starting to draw,” Jain said. “I don’t want to do that. I want to start to draw the moment I see something. I want to be ready to get it down.”

Jain will be at the Artist Market at Phoenix Park this Saturday, Sept. 14 from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the last market for the year. Everyone who buys a book gets a portrait that he draws of them in person on the inside cover.

Spierings can be reached at [email protected]