Have you ever thought of what goes into the making of a great graphic book? There is good story, thought, writing and more importantly — good visuals. A book cover and its illustrations are probably the first element that interact with you. We talk to three young ¬illustrators in the city about their art and get a peek into their job.
Urmila Shastry, 26 - "Illustrators are underrated"
This peppy sketcher doesn’t have a preference for fiction or non-fiction. She picks what she finds interesting (her works are on the right and below). “The first draft is more of an ideation of content and visual language,” she says. Besides making a name for herself, Shastry wants her community to rise and shine.
“I think illustrators are underrated in India. An illustrators’ club would be a great idea! I think we could use a space where we can create a community and share our work, create networks and give feedback.”
Ask her about work and she’s quick to reply, “I sometimes look back at a cover and think I could have made certain elements better, but thankfully, I haven’t regretted anything as of yet.” So how difficult is it to deal with somebody else’s work? “Some scripts are harder than others. When I have difficulty with a book, I print out the script and read it several times, highlighting strong visual references until I have a better grasp of the book.”
Tanaya Vyas, 23 - "So much goes into a cover"
Young Vyas is mostly into visual designing. Having graduated only last year, she is already six novels old. And her love for drawing is keeping her strong. “The work is enriching. It is amazing to see your name on the book. After reading so much, one interprets the book onto the cover. Trust me, it’s the best feeling ever,” she says. Vyas (a cover by her is on the right) likes to explore all genres. She explains how the job of an illustrator is a full-time one and one has to be on the toes all the time. “I want a book illustrators club also. I think it’s important to meet and exchange ideas,” she adds.
Parismita Singh, 34 - "The experience is magical"
A lover of children’s books, Singh is a pro at illustrations and prose (a page from one of her books is below). The author-illustrator has been in the business for a good 10 years now. The job, she says, is ¬rewarding in many ways. One is that you get to work closely with the author and the second is the moment of pride when your name appears on the book.
“The sad reality of this profession is that we don’t have enough ¬support. We need more help from the publishers to commission work,” she says. Singh believes patience is the key to this profession, as also the openness to criticism. It’s almost as if she’s fostering somebody else’s baby.
“Yes, of course differences happen between the author and the designer. Stories are tricky. Sometimes, the editor feels differently. We have to use the political connotation very carefully,” she says.
She is most comfortable with children’s books as it gives her enough freedom to fiddle. “Children’s books are fun. There is little text and more scope to play with pictures. The experience is magical.”