Okie, so let me first preen properly, show off and all that, because Tulika gave me this wonderful opportunity to interview the superbly talented Ajanta Guhathakurta , the illustrator of ‘The Sweetest Mango‘
Thank you both Tulika AND Ajanta for being kind enough to consider me.
Now for the actual part. I basically sent a set of questions to Ajanta and she was kind enough to answer.
RM: Tell us something about yourself not only in terms of what you do, but also, some specific trait of yours which you feel describes you in a unique way.
Ajanta: I am passionate about creative art. Everything that requires creation attracts me… like painting, embroidery, textile printing, cooking, crafts and doing interiors. At the same time I also pursued music which is my parallel passion.
RM: What prompted you to start illustrating children’s books?
Ajanta: My parents always gifted me books that had many pictures and i would most of the time follow the illustrations to grasp the story. So after graduating in fine arts, I grabbed the first opportunity i got to illustrate children’s books.
RM: Is there a specific method or technique you use for illustrations? Can you give an example to explain it to novices like us?
Ajanta: There is no specific method. My strength is my versatility using different styles, mediums and techniques.
RM: If my child expresses a desire to become an illustrator, what would be your suggestion to be a successful one? any particular course you suggest?
Ajanta: A person is required to have an inherent talent to imagine and create.One can acquire skills but without an inherent power of imagination and innovation(which cannot be taught), ones growth can get restricted to an extent. I have met both kinds of illustrators one who have grown in their work and the ones who have limited potential. There is no separate course for illustrations. It’s a part of a larger curriculum in any art/design institute.
RM: What or who were your inspirations while getting into illustrations?
Ajanta: All those illustrators whose work spoke volumes and kept me glued to their work.To name a few: Sukumar Ray, Micky Patel,
Maurice Sendak, Mick Inkpen etc
RM: Do you have any particular favorite children’s illustrator?
Ajanta: I am fond of many. I enjoy Victor Ambrus
RM: How do you start the process of illustrating…does it involve reading the story, then drawing rough sketches…?
Ajanta: Yes i read the story first while slowly creating preliminary visuals in my head. During my second read I make my sketches and decide on what style the tale requires and for which age group of kids.
RM: Which is the medium you use when you draw illustrations…pencil, water colours, crayons or is it done directly on the computer??
Ajanta: Anything on paper, never on computer.
RM: You teach painting to children. How exactly do you go about teaching them? Are most artists born as one, or do you think one can ‘learn’ how to paint?
Ajanta: Teaching painting for me is a process through which I get ample opportunity to learn from the kids themselves. Lots of interaction and experimental drawings techniques for fun. In my classes I polish the strengths of each kid and in return I learn how to communicate through art in the most simple visual language. As I said before, one can teach skills and rest is all about inherent talent and capacity.
RM: Can you share with us the feeling when your first illustration got published? When was that and what was it about?
Ajanta: My first illustration got published in our school’s annual magazine.My parents, friends and teachers were very proud and so was I 🙂
RM: Any upcoming books from Tulika or other publications we can look forward to?
Ajanta: I am working on a couple of books from Rupa and NBT. My next one from Tulika is yet to come.
Thanks again, Ajanta 🙂 you have been sweet enough to let a novice like me interview you and thanks Tulika (Niveditha) for giving a novice like me an opportunity to interview 🙂