Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Meet Priya Kuriyan, the artist who drew the cat whose fault it was

Over the last week, Priya Kuriyan's guilty-looking cat has charmed many of StoryWeaver's readers. This comes as no surprise, as Priya's work is already wildly popular. But we're so glad that StoryWeaver launched with 'It's All the Cat's Fault!', which was illustrated by Priya and written by Anushka Ravishankar. If you haven't yet seen her gorgeous watercolour art and in particular, the worried cat, read this fantastic story now. We're excited that this story has had over 2000 reads in a week's time and has been translated into 11 languages.
 
Below is a short conversation between Delhi-based illustrator Priya Kuriyan and the StoryWeaver team.
 

You've done a LOT of work with Pratham Books and you were an Illustrator Guru, a champion of sorts, for our #6FrameStoryChallenge. We're SO happy that you help us create such beautiful books. What did it mean to be a Star Illustrator for StoryWeaver's launch?

I'm always happy to work for Pratham Books because they inevitably come up with the nicest ideas to make sure that every child gets to read stories. StoryWeaver is by far one of the most exciting projects in its scope and once I heard of, and understood what it could do, I had no doubt I wanted to contribute.

You've been working as an illustrator for a few years now and you have worked with multiple publishers. As an established illustrator, what are challenges you face?

Illustration can be a very time-consuming, solitary affair and sometimes this means having to pick and choose projects carefully so that one can do justice to the work one is doing. This can be tough as a freelancer, especially when one has to let go of interesting projects just because of a lack of time. Also, sometimes it's difficult to convince clients that some projects requires a certain amount of time to be developed well.

How do you decide which medium to use for a particular story?

It usually depends on the story and what genre the story belongs to. For eg: I recently worked on a book about a ghosts and decided to use charcoals for it as I thought it would work well and convey the eeriness of the story well. There are times when the medium itself becomes an integral part of the story. For eg; If it's a story about garbage, I might decide to use collage so that the possiblity of using waste material in the illustration can be explored.

Do you feel that it's important for an artist to find a distinct style, or is it more important to be versatile?  

I happen to be of the opinion that it's alright either way. They both have their advantages and disadvantages. To me, having a versatile style is more exciting as I'm often surprised by the results of trying things out a little differently.

Do you find yourself going back to certain things while illustrating children's books because they tend to work - colours, techniques, styles and so on? If yes, we'd love to know what some of these are.  

When I know that there is lesser time to do a certain project, I tend to be conservative and stick to techniques I've used before and am confident will yield decent results. I still illustrate mostly by hand and one of my favourite techniques is to use regular poster paints with a very fine brush and then use water soluble colour pencils on top of it to give it a texture. I also love mixing charcoals and watercolours for some of my drawings.

What do you do and where do you go when you desperately need inspiration to draw? Yes, we're asking you to spill your secrets. 

Step outside. Take a walk in a green spot to clear my head out and watch people pass by. Sitting in sunny spots in parks in the Delhi winters is especially nice :)


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