Monday, March 29, 2010

Illustrating Water Stories

The Water Stories blogathon closes today. Participants selected to review Tulika's titles for both blogathons will be announced  tomorrow, March 30, 2010. Stay tuned...

Meanwhile, here is Water Stories' illustrator Nirupama Sekhar's reflections upon the appeal of illustrated books. You can see some of her art for the book in this slideshow.

‘Water Stories’ is my first book as illustrator. Being a graphic designer by profession, I didn’t quite realize the power of  “characters” until this project. “Tiddalik is not happy,” my very adult friend commented, “he thinks he should have made the cover.” I was happy simply to hear my characters coming alive, escaping from 2D flatland.

What is it about a happy, colourful illustrated book that is so endearing? I think the answer lies in between the lines, and beyond the images; it lies in the reader’s imagination. An illustrated book, unlike say a comic book, leaves much to the imagination. You, as the reader, will have to fill in the rest of Koluscap’s bloody struggle as he avenges the sea-monster. And the single image of Koluscap’s painted face and raised foot is your portal key to start that journey.

Personally, I have a deep love for the book as a designed object. It is a beautiful thing, really. Amidst all other examples of visual design, the book perhaps is the most permanent. You don’t throw away a book, as you would a newspaper or magazine. You don’t forget a book, the way you would a print advertisement. It is meant to be read, discovered, cherished and years later, rediscovered again.

‘Water Stories’ has been a lovely, satisfying book to work on. The project started off with researching folk tales and myths about water from all over the world. Human dependence on water has been both universal and timeless, as tales from Botswana or China, Greece or India will tell you. The visual motifs and patterns of different cultures provided a rich reference to visualize water in unique ways for each story. Myriad representations of the same theme - water - just goes to show how different we all are, and yet how very similar. All the illustrations for ‘Water Stories’ were hand-drawn watercolour illustrations.

Hopefully, ‘Water Stories’ will help you respect and discover water in much deeper sense, beyond how we urban-dwellers usually end up taking it for granted. And if you do make some new friends in Tiddalik or Selekana along the way... there, that would be for me a success.  Happy reading!

- Nirupama Sekhar

Water Stories from around the world is available online at a special price till April.