Meet Kiranjot Kaur, a multi-disciplinary artist, author and engineer. Her work aims to celebrate her artistic influences including Panjabi, Sikh and Canadian heritages, and lived experiences being raised in a family-owned fabric store.  She is the author and illustrator of Sangeet and the Missing Beat, a children’s picture book and she is also currently pursuing a PhD in earthquake engineering at UBC.  Kiranjot lives, works and creates on the traditional lands of the Kwantlen, Semiahmoo and Katzie First Nations (also known as Surrey) with her three children and husband.


Tell us about your journey? How did you get involved in your industry?

I am formally trained as a civil engineer and I graduated from UBC in 2008 with an undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering, followed by a Master’s in Structural Engineering in 2009. I began my career working for a local bridge design consulting company and then left engineering when my eldest daughter was born in 2015. I have been a hobby artist my whole life and while at home with my daughter, I began pursuing an art career professionally. I have had the honour of having my work shown in several public art galleries, including two solo exhibitions. I also began developing colouring books in a series called Little Sahibs and have written and illustrated a children’s story in hopes of providing some much needed representation and inspiration for local kids and in particular, kids who look like mine! Meanwhile, when my eldest daughter started kindergarten, I returned to school to pursue my interest in disaster planning through a PhD in Earthquake Engineering at UBC, where I am currently studying the seismic resilience of the transportation network in the Lower Mainland, BC.

What is the hardest challenge you have come up against in your personal/professional life? What was your biggest lesson learned?

I believe my hardest challenge is yet to come! I feel once a challenge is overcome, it doesn’t seem like a challenge anymore and your memory of it is altered such that it no longer feels insurmountable. In general, I think time management with so many passions and interests would be the greatest challenge and I am still learning how to balance it all while still feeling like I am accomplishing things!

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What advice would you give South Asian women wanting to do what you do?

Just go for it! The world is ready to hear your voice and it needs to hear exactly what you have to say! I would say that in the absence of representation in your chosen field, instead of feeling the weight of your perceived obstacles and looking for ways to overcome adversity, to imagine a world without the obstacles and try to live in it. You are a powerhouse of inspiration and value, just by being you, and let’s be that change that’s needed.


What does “women empowering women” mean to you?

To me, “women empowering women” means fulfilling the needs of the sisterhood and by engaging in conversations while actively listening, we can applaud and amplify one another.

If you could tell your teenage self something, what would it be?

Despite your doubts, life will exceed your expectations, so you should aim to exceed them, too!


What is your personal motto or mission statement?

Always on an adventure!

Besides your work, what are you passionate about?

My kids and family. My kids are these amazing little beings and I am so fortunate to have them as roommates:)

Where can one find you on your days off?

Hmmm, what days off? Haha, I alternate between tasks to take a break from one thing or another. So if I am taking a break from research, I will do some art, and if I need a break from both, I’ll do something with the kids (inspiration is everywhere!).

How do you balance work, life, family?

I’m not sure that I have figured this one out or that I do balance it all very well but I do my best to involve the kids in my creative endeavours. I am also fortunate to be able to work from home and make progress on projects during school and nap times!


Upcoming Projects

Sangeet and the Missing Beat, published by Rebel Mountain Press, is currently available wherever you buy books!

Stay connected with Kiranjot