At 5, joined kathak dance classes aspiring to become an actress
At 10, joined hindustani classical vocal aspiring to become a singer
At 14, joined Taek-wondo preparing my mind to join the Indian Army
At 17, joined Usha Tailoring institute rethinking about becoming a fashion designer
At 18, I finally realized, I was born to paint….. may b an Art Therapist in years to come….
Why are you an Illustrator?
I like doing things my way….so when i read, I draw and read the same text the way I want to enjoy it, and this time the drawings are telling me the story.
Did you attend school for fine art or design?
Yes, I graduated in Fine Arts from Delhi College of Art
How did you land your job in Penguin?
2001, Penguin planned to launch their children’s division. They gave an ad in TOI for specialists in children’s books.
You have a distinct style of illustration. How long did it take you to develop your style?
I will differ with you on that….I actually don’t have a distinct style. I never wanted to. Am quite sure that I will get bored if I shape up a distinct style.
Were there any particular role models for you when you grew up?
My Mother, a housewife. She would always keep me occupied with colours and paper, so that I don’t do mischief! She would point out when I would forget to make wings in a bird, or add the tail to a dog or even what colours not to repeat in the bouquet of balloons. She would show me different drawings, sketches, paintings published in newspapers and magazines to encourage me and to make me participate in various competition. She has maintained an album of all my childhood scribbles and drawings. I used to stare for hours when she used to be engrossed in making hand-made dolls, wall hangings, embroidery and even my summer holiday artwork projects. She instilled art in me in various forms.
Who was the most influential personality on your career in Illustrations?
I cant recall any. Never saw myself revisiting or collecting ‘a particular personalities’ work. I admired all good work that evoked a certain emotion in me.
Did you work as a freelance illustrator?
Used to many years back
Was there any time when you wanted to quit Illustrations?
Are many advertising agencies getting illustrations made these days? Do you work more with agencies or publishers?
Yes illustrators are in high demand in agencies, especially the ones good in digital. I am with a publisher where I have liberty to choose what I want to illustrate.
Have you ever wanted to make your illustrations/characters into toys?
Yes in various occasions, especially characters from my Ladybird books.
Any other Indian Illustrators who you admire?
Many. Pulak Biswas, Late Micky Patel, Late Sukumar Ray, R.K Laxman, Atanu Roy, Manjula Padmanabhan, Bhajju Shyam to name a few…..
Do you have any favorite fellow illustrators or resources relating to your fields?
Don’t believe in having favorites but I work with many talented and passionate illustrators from all over India. And I cherish working with each of their unique strength.
You have such a wide experience as a top working professional. What advice do you have for aspiring creative professionals? Would you advise them to take on Illustration as a career option?
I will surely do. One should follow ones heart as far as creativity is concerned. But my personal view is that in this profession, one has to keep taking the initiative to improve oneself, keep thinking out of the box. Never to arrive at a comfort zone even if certain style has got popular or fetches more assignments. Demand of illustration is different in different agencies, publishers or studios. To keep practicing on the drawing board and to keep a wide range of skills will take us a long way in experiencing an enriching body of work…
Mac or PC?
Who would you like to take out for dinner?
Gulzar Sahab/Bhajju Shyam. Gulzar Sahab for his originality. Bhajju for creating magic with Gond Art style and bringing it to the contemporary world.
What’s on your iPod?
Don’t have one.
Ajanta can be contacted via her blog here