The Enchanted Cottage

The Enchanted Cottage
Thanks to Harper Collins , I have had the privilege to illustrate a one of a kind picture book for One of India’s most celebrated writers, Ruskin Bond’s newest whodunit set in the hills. Here is an excerpt from a brief interview in a leading newspaper that offers insights into the project.
What was your brief while working on this title?
The brief for The Enchanted Cottage (HarperCollins India) was simple — follow your own style. When the publisher contacted me, they were familiar with my style and thought that it would be appropriate for this book. Besides, Ruskin Bond’s writing is so vivid in its description; it was easy to visualise every small detail, and I merely translated it in my own art.
The style and the colour palette is reminiscent of classic literary novels from the Victorian and Dickensian eras. How did it take shape?
I love everything vintage and all things old-world. The same gets translated into my illustrations. I have been running my communication design studio for about two decades now. It was only during the lockdown that I got back to painting because I had a lot of time in hand. Then, everything just happened. I didn’t have any style that I could call my own till then. I kept painting every single day and I could see something emerge. I kept gaining clarity with every new work I did, and started enjoying this old-world aesthetic, which has now become my style. 

To illustrate for a living literary legend must have come with its own set of challenges and excitement. Could you share your process? 
The moment I was approached for this project, I knew I had to get it right. Not everyday does one get the opportunity to illustrate for a literary legend like Mr Bond. To add further, it was not just the cover or a couple of illustrations but the whole picture book; and this was going to be my first as an illustrator.

I was asked for a sample illustration to figure out if my style suited the story. The reply I got from Mr Bond as well as the publishers gave me all the confidence I needed. The process started with reading the manuscript and figuring out how many and where all I could suggest the illustrations. I wanted to ensure that all key parts of the story were highlighted. To keep the book visually engaging, I highlighted the environment in which the story is set in. Some key characters, elements and some pages highlighted the emotions. Based on these, I sketched out rough thumbnails and shared it with the team. Once that was in place, the next step was to flesh out the sketch. After that came the colouring. I was thrilled when everything got approved without a single suggestion for change. The final stamp of approval came from Mr Bond, and I was ecstatic! Finally, we brainstormed on the kind of paper and printing to give it the old-world feel.

What was Mr Bond’s feedback about the illustration?
This signed copy (above) with his kind words is the biggest feedback I could receive! His appreciation for my illustrations throughout the duration of the project made it extra special.



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