“Illustrating for children is a big responsibility”


–says Subir Roy, art executive with Children’s Book Trust, Delhi.

To be part of kid’s literature is one of the best things that can happen to an artist. It gives certain freedom to create our own world, without any apprehensions….a world full of fun and happiness.

Subir RoySubir Roy, a graduate in Applied Arts from Government College of Art, has extensively contributed to several children’s publications in India and abroad. He is presently working as art executive with the Children’s Book Trust (CBT), Delhi. To begin with, Subir stressed on the importance of books in children’s life today. “A childhood spent without books is worthless. We need to introduce our kids to books, so that they grow up being a wise person,” he said

Subir has over 30 years of experience as an illustrator and has seen several trends and illustrators/cartoonists over the years. But he feels that Pulak Da is one of the finest kids’ illustrators in India and has high regards for Shankar, India’s most celebrated cartoonist before and after independence and the founder of CBT as well. “When I began my career, I got the opportunity to work with Shankar, who was a genius in true sense.”

Further commenting on the importance of illustrations to make any book a good book, he added, “We have been telling same tales to our kids for ages. But the presentation has changed 360 degree now. And illustrations are very important to hold the interest of young readers. It has to have a soul in it. Being an illustrator we need to understand the culture and social norms of our TG (target group). Like, if we are illustrating Ram and Sita, we have to make them look soulful. To depict Rama’s bravery, we cannot make him look like the superheroes of west.”

Being a veteran in the industry, Subir feels that we need to constantly brush our skills to bring best of our talents. At the same time, it’s our responsibility to train young artists as well. Keeping this in mind, he shared that he is keeping himself actively busy with regular workshops, training and brainstorming sessions for young and aspiring illustrators. “As a fillip to create talent, CBT has organised, from time to time, workshops for writers and illustrators of children’s books. A forum for them, sponsored by CBT, has since formed itself into a registered body known as the Association of Writers and Illustrators for Children. Its activities include participating in world events, encouragement to writers, promotion of reading habit, and establishment of libraries. While, ‘The Shankar’s Academy of Art and Book Publishing’, situated in Nehru House, was founded in 1991 to train students in the field of book publishing and to develop illustrators of children’s books. The academy began by conducting two diploma courses – one in art, book illustration and graphics, and the other in book publishing. The courses are conducted by a trained faculty, their content being intensive in nature,” he explained.

Besides CBT, there are many people who are involved in improving children’s literature in India. Adding more to it, he said, “Organisations like NBT, Tulika Books, Pratham and Katha are doing good work for kids. As Indians, we need to imbibe Indian values and culture through books. Our folktales and Panchtantras are timeless classics for kids, so Indian content should be promoted to our kids.”

In today’s world everything is going digital, so is the art. But like most of the artists, he too belongs to old school of thought and shared, “Digitisation has made things easier, but it too has its negatives and positives. When we were doing artwork, there was no option of Ctrl Z. So, in the 80s and 90s it was really a tedious job to be an illustrator. But I feel some of the best works were being produced during that time only. And Indian comics were also booming in that period. Digitisation has made things easier, but the quality of work is not upto the mark.”

As a message to all young readers, he shared, “Read and grow with books.”

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