Priyankar Gupta, the illustrator of the soon-to-be-published Trouble with Magic, in conversation with Vimala Malhotra, the co-founder of the Hippocampus Library.
VM: Your illustrations for ‘Trouble with Magic’ so beautifully reflect the tone of the entire story – the fun characters especially are so perfectly portrayed. They so complement the slapstick nature of the comedy. Did you keep the age of the child while planning the illustrations?
PG: As far as the age is concerned I usually get the age limit of the readers as a part of my briefs in most cases. ‘Trouble with Magic’ was no exception.
VM: How did you decide what extent of illustration is required for a story – too many, too few – is there a method you use to arrive at these decisions?
PG: The numbers of illustrations were decided by the Duckbill duo Anushka and Sayoni. Also it depends upon the portion of the content which needs illustrations.
VM: I loved the black and white illustrations. And then I saw some of your illustrations for ‘Trouble with Magic’ in color too. Loved that too. How do you personally prefer to see them in print?
PG: I personally love black and white illustrations. I feel contented drawing them as well. But would love an entire ‘Trouble with Magic’ printed in colour as well.
VM: Once you illustrated the book to your satisfaction did you show it to children to see how they respond to it?
PG: Not really! Perhaps the reality check happens once someone spots my work at the stands and responds.
VM: I love your Friday illustrations and Beast Love images. Have you ever considered creating a pure picture book? I would love to see an alphabet book by you!
PG: Thanks for the kind words! Oh yes! I have many ideas for picture books.
I would love to work on some. I adore children’s content.
VM: There are a lot of foreign illustrators who double up as writers to create picture books with very minimal text. They convey rather exciting concepts – like those by Herve Tullet – a French illustrator. There is such a dearth, and a desperate need, for quality picture books by Indian illustrators. Would this be something you would consider?
PG: Definitely! The role of a thinker and doer is something which I always appreciate and I try to practice. I don’t have a formal training in literature but I have in Art. As long as I get guidance in the content part which gives me confidence, I would love to take up the role of a write-illustrator.
VM: Finally, do you have a favorite illustrator(s)?
PG: Many of them! The list is endless. But to name a few Upendrakishore Ray Chowdhury (grandfather of Satyajit Ray), Satyajit Ray, Will Eisner, Gary Larson, Herge and many more. I have grown up seeing their work and sometimes copying them as a kid.