Nadia Budde says that the popularity of graphic novels and picture books has made illustration a good profession to be in

Nadia Budde is busy taking classes amidst colourful paintings on classroom walls and the long corridors of Stella Maris’ Fine Arts Department. An illustrator and graphic novelist from Berlin, she is in the country, on the invitation of the Goethe Institut, to conduct workshops, illustration classes and spread the word about an art form she loves. She began by drawing portraits, figures and landscapes. “All children draw and that’s how I started as well,” she smiles, “It’s only later when I studied illustrations that my professor asked me to be more free with my work. ”

And so, in 1999, Nadia published her first picture book for children, ‘One, Two, Three, Me’. “It has various characters, mostly animals and goes on like a poem. Each line ends with a rhyming word, which then becomes the subject for the next line. It’s more like playing with the characters, words, sentences and the language itself,” she adds.

While Nadia admits that her books are for children, she says that anyone can read picture books. “They’re not really stories but games,” she explains. “Adults also tend to buy these books and enjoy reading them. Categorising these books according to age might be important in some places but I think the lessons are universal.”

Picture books have become a rage, especially in the last ten years, she feels. “There is a lot of interest in these books because of educational value. People are trying to cultivate the habit of reading now. And families are a lot closer and bond over such books. They read bedtime stories, discuss it and so on. But a major interest in illustrations is not just picture books for children but also specifically for adults — probably influenced by the Manga culture in Japan.”

There’s been a flood of graphic novels and picture books in Europe of late and suddenly, being an illustrator has become a profession. “They were fine artists before and now that children’s books have a huge following, more and more illustrators are coming into the picture.” Nadia herself has authored and illustrated 11 picture books and graphic novels.

Illustrators have their own style and Nadia explains hers. “My characters have a strong black outline and very strong colours as well.”