'Meet' an interesting personality and achiever in this column.

After a diploma in mechanical engineering and a job that involved marketing metallurgical products for almost two years, Ashok Rajagopalan's foray into drawing for children's books has been quite an odyssey. From brief stints as graphic designer, freelance cartoonist, writer-cum-illustrator, the 46-year-old is now excited about acting in an art film in Malayalam. “I ramble a lot and one thing leads to the other and they all are part of me,” he says. Ashok Rajagopalan, best known as illustrator of children's books, tells Liffy Thomas about the child in him.

“I haven't forgotten my childhood, that's probably why I am good at my work,” says Ashok Rajagopalan, whose conversations, according to him, are some times silly, deep in thought or goes like the fantasy world. Keep the child alive in him when working on books for them is what he follows as an illustrator. That perhaps got him work, one after the another. He has worked for about 500 titles, children's books being his forte, in the last 20 years with different publishers. Chandamama gave him his first break in 1989 with Junior Quest, after which he spread his canvas for textbooks publishers and then to a host of children's books and magazines. A Silly Story of Bondapalli, brought out by Tulika, will be released this week where Mr. Rajagopalan's pictures of bondas and rib tickling series of events promise to keep readers rolling with laughter.

“My job is to bring pleasure for the reader through pictures, but the biggest challenge is to make the writer and editor happy with your sensibilities,” he says, adding that a good illustrator reads, enjoys and lets his imagination go wild. While drawing came quite naturally to him, writing has been a long desire. With Witchsnare, an interactive game book by Penguin India, it got fulfilled in 2007.

Gajapati Kulapati – a picture book – would be his debut as writer-cum-illustrator. Keeping him busy are his regular contributions for children's magazines Impulse Hoot and Impulse Toot.

“Also, I am a baby in the film world and there is lot of work on the sets,” he says.

The artist says he does not have any particular style in his drawings but that has never come to his disadvantage. In most of his books he experiments with caricatures, some wacky, cute or emotional.


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