Monday, October 5, 2015

Mushrooms, umbrellas and an air of mystery: Megha Vishwanathan on her illustrations for 'துப்பறியும் துரை '

For the #6FrameStoryChallenge that we ran early this year, Megha Vishwanathan submitted not just one visual story, but two (see them here)! So when N. Chokkan picked her illustrations to weave a story around it for our 'Weave-a-Story' campaign, we were thrilled. And curious, of course, to see his interpretation! One of the things illustrators seemed to have enjoyed about the #6FrameStoryChallenge was the freedom to create their own stories. And hopefully, illustrators will get more such opportunities to tell stories that are brewing in their minds.

Read this interview with the StoryWeaver team in which Megha Vishwanathan - a Bangalore-based artist - gives us a glimpse into her creative life.

How did it feel to see a story woven around your #6frame illustrations and available on StoryWeaver?
Delighted! I was worried that it's a story not grounded in reality or looks very familiar as just a visual narrative. But I was genuinely happy to see how N.Chokkan has spun a refreshingly new tale. In fact I actually can't wait to hear it read to me in Tamil. 

Tell us a little about the illustrations in 'துப்பறியும் துரை' / 'Kaushik, the Kind Detective'.
The words were really an inspiration :). Of course the eye quickly scans the grid and given the time of the day and caprice of my mind, some words are hot and some not. For this story - I think I saw mushroom and umbrella first and that they can have very deceivingly similar canopies is what the sticky first thought was. In my head, the visual of the little girl under the umbrella and by the canopy of the mushrooms popped first. It pretty much gathered the rest of the visuals to huddle together as a story.

I make digital illustrations. These illustrations were created with an open source imaging tool called GIMP ( and hand drawn and coloured using the Intuous 4 graphic tablet. I most enjoy making black and white drawings and with muted colours. But I can imagine them not being very fun in a children's story. I started sketching these out in just shades of grey, but figured a dash of colour may bring the picked words better into focus.

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.
I am on a self-imposed healthy diet of appreciating art online from the world over everyday. I read and watch movies for all that wonderful cross-pollination. I'm usually behind schedule with the ideas sprouting in my head, and at least for now I am not short of inspiration. It's often my discipline to put them on paper or my skills that can't keep up. I have an eclectic mix of favourite artists, writers and film productions and it's a really long list. Currently I'm reading a Neil Gaiman comic and blissfully staring at mythological art from a lot contemporary artists I follow.

I have been wanting to find visual narratives by going for walks, taking photos, making /listening in on conversations, etc. Maybe that too, in less busier times. I do visit the far and few galleries in the city with my always-up-for-an-art-outing kind of company, usually follow it up with live studies in a park, public space or a cafe. I probably feel more inspired in places where there are people, animals and interaction. Scenic mountains and boundless oceans are for times that I need to calm my monkey mind :)

Read the story created by Megha Vishwanathan and N. Chokkan in Tamil (original) and English. Through StoryWeaver's 'Weave-a-Story' campaign, it has already been translated by the StoryWeaver community into Hindi and Punjabi. We want this story to travel as widely as possible and for this to be possible, it needs to be available in many more languages. Can you - our ever-supportive community - help us share this with more children by translating it into languages you're fluent in? It's super simple, see the video tutorial here.

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