Meet the Ilustrators: Sonal Goyal and Sumit Sakhuja

Earlier this week, we chatted with Arefa Tehsin – the author of the book ‘The Elephant Bird’. And now, the magicians who breathe life into the text take the stage : our beloved illustrators! The creators of the exotic world of The Elephant Bird, the bewitching and magical nocturnal scenes of Goodnight Tinku, illustrators Sonal Goyal and Sumit Sakhuja give Pratham Books a little peek at the methods to their magic. 

How did you both start working together?
We were batch-mates at an animation course ,then worked together for a publishing house for 7-8 years and left our jobs together to set up our own studio. It was never planned and we keep it like that.

How do you manage to retain your individual styles while creating a cohesive spread?
We share our concepts and ideas and then come up with a style that suits the story.Then either of us makes the sketches whosoever feels more comfortable with the style. I am more into cartoons while Sumit enjoys working in semi-realistic/realistic styles. (Sonal)
Who and what inspired your art?
Anything and everything inspires us..from the ant crawling across the floor to the Sun shining bright..its all about observing and recollecting at the right time.
Have you noticed any particular trends among illustrators of late?
We feel there is a lot more variety in styles nowadays.
Do you have any advice for aspiring illustrators, especially those of children’s books?
Think like a child when drawing for a child. That’s our motto!
Are there certain characters that you’ve illustrated that are especially dear to your heart?
Very difficult to pick. We love them all!
Is there a children’s book that you wish you had illustrated?
Never given it a thought.

The style used for ‘The Elephant Bird’ seemed rather unconventional. What triggered it?

I wanted to give it a very Indian/ethnic feel so I looked at Madhubani paintings and other folk art styles for inspiration and then came up with a few sketches for Munia and the result is for all to see. (smiles)
Why did you choose to work with Pratham Books?
I saw a few Pratham Books at a Book Fair and went straight home and wrote a mail and sent it along with a few samples. I was delighted when I got my first Pratham Books story Goodnight Tinku.

What were the three things you really liked about Pratham Books’ #6FrameStoryChallenge?
The words were the take-off point to set the imagination rolling.
Got a chance to not only illustrate but create a story. Double treat!
Everybody had a chance to interpret and create their own subplots from the illustrations.
The whole concept was awesome! 🙂

What are yours and Sumit’s favourite spreads (pages) in the books that you’ve illustrated for Pratham books?

Its a tie for me between ‘The Giant Elephant Bird’..the one where Munia is going around with a lantern in hand and one from “Chunnu Munnu’ where Munnu is running out of the bathroom and mom is trying to catch up.
For Sumit,its the discussion under the banyan tree scene from ‘The Giant Elephant Bird’.

Sonal’s and Sumit’s illustrations for the #6FrameStoryChallenge
Visit Sonal’s blog
Read more interviews with Pratham Books authors and illustrators

(This interview was conducted by our intern Vedhika Anoora. Vedhika is from Coimbatore and is currently studying Media & Communication, Literature and Psychology at Christ University. She volunteers to teach children in an after-school program organized by the Centre for Social Action, Christ University. Even though she has been able to navigate her way around a basketball court, she is still unable to find her way to the Pratham Books office without getting lost at least once a week!)

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DISCLAIMER :Everything here is the personal opinions of the authors and is not read or approved by pratham books before it is posted. No warranties or other guarantees will be offered as to the quality of the opinions or anything else offered here