When Meri Bindi landed on my desk, I was immediately taken in by illustrator Lavanya Karthik’s distinctive art work. Which I when I decided to get it all straight from the horse’s mouth. (You can read the interview with the book’s author, Anu Anand, here.)
RJ – I love the paper cut artwork. Is there a special name for this technique? How did you decide to do this book this way?
LK – ‘Cut Paper Art’ would describe it best.( I know a lot of people would call it ‘collage’, but I associate that term with a mix of media, textures and materials). It’s a style I love working in, and even used in my first book (What does Anu see? for Pratham) but it wasn’t the first choice for the book at all. The illustrations for Meri Bindi were first visualized in watercolour. But midway through the process of making them, I realized they would look far better in cut paper.
RJ – Were the animals corresponding to each of the bindis pre-decided by the author, or did you bring in your ideas?
LK – The story behind the illustrations, and the characters in them, developed gradually, with each version of the spreads. In fact, the very first version only starred a bunch of little kids with bindis on. By version 4 or so, however, this sweet little story emerged, that works wonderfully in tandem with the text. Anu and I were constantly exchanging ideas and suggestions for the spreads, adding pages, and so on.
RJ – There are two spreads in particular, the first two, that have vivid backdrops. One is a cityscape while the other is the room where Noor and Neel are playing. Any specific personal influences for both?
LK – The cityscape was actually the last spread made, and was Anu’s idea entirely, to introduce the characters and the very Indian environment they live in. I love a picture brimming with detail and colour, and cut paper art is perfect for that – it is a great way to build layers in an illustration, letting you add details as you go along.
RJ – How many packets of bindis did you end up buying before settling on the ones that you finally feature in the artwork?!
LK – Not too many, but only because I am always knee deep in craft supplies and stick-on bling anyway!
RJ – Can the readers have a sneak peek at your work station?!
LK – Let me describe it instead….. I have a huge, airy, sun-drenched studio space in the middle of a beautiful pine forest, with floor to ceiling windows offering me spectacular views of the Himalayas. Sadly, it only exists in my head because I live in a tiny flat in Mumbai, hemmed in by buildings on all sides, with spectacular views of parked cars, delivery vans and washing lines. In the real world, my workspace is a 25 year old fold-down drawing board in one corner of my daughter’s room, covered in coffee cup rings, ink stains, ancient games of noughts and crosses and the odd to-do list.
RJ -Someday, we’ll extract a pic of this yummy workstation out of you, Lavanya! Just as we managed to get glimpses of the WIP! Thank you for sharing these with our readers! It’s been a delight chatting with you. Wish you many many more fun projects and wow books!