Art of the imagination

Priya Kuriyan   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

An eye for detail, a sense of colour and a quirky sense of humour are what’s taking Priya, an independent animation filmmaker and illustrator, places. The 35-year-old artist, who lets her imagination interact with words, has created several page turners for various Indian publishers and is currently illustrating some stories by Ruskin Bond.

But then, Priya always knew that a life in art was what she wanted to pursue. A fan of the works of Atanu Roy, Jayanto Baneerjee and Mario Miranda to name a few, it was their images that inspired Priya to take readers on an visual journey through her imaginative world using clear, soft lines and vibrant colours, herself.

Says Delhi-based Priya, who hails from Kochi: “As my father, Jacob Kuriyan, was in the army, my family and I shifted often from town to town. Drawing was the one constant in my life. Besides, I was never academically inclined. If I weren’t in the field of art, I would have become a teacher, I think.”

A graduate of National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad, Priya made her entry into the world of illustrations through Tulika Books.

“I sent Tulika a portfolio of my work while at NID. They liked it and asked if I could illustrate Radhika Chadha’s I’m So Sleepy. The book is about an elephant who forgets how to sleep.”

The book was well received, the illustrations enriching the reading experience. She went on to illustrate a series of books with the same character. “It was called The Baby Bahadur series,” says Priya, who started freelancing as an illustrator after working with an animation production house and with Sesame Street, India. “I decided to freelance as I couldn’t pursue my love for illustrations seriously while I was employed,” says Priya.

Although she illustrates book covers and designs the covers of various magazines, Priya finds picture books a real visual treat and enjoys working on them. “Becoming a children’s book illustrator was never a conscious decision; it just happened. Children are smart and are quick to catch on if there are any inconsistencies between the text and pictures. And so, I make sure I read the whole book before I start picturing the text.”

She also avoids stereotyping her characters. “In Natasha Sharma’s Princess Easy Pleasy, I consciously made the wife taller than the husband. I also introduced different skin colours. Picture books help eliminate stereotypes and increase the child’s chances of growing into open-minded adults. I try to add a touch of humour to my pictures and enjoy making drawings that include subtle layers of information. This I feel makes a child want to revisit the story,” says Priya, who enjoys experimenting with different kinds of treatments and media.

A keen observer of the life and the people around her, if the protagonist in Meera Nair’s Maya Saves the Day is modeled on Priya’s niece, Sarah Ann Cherian, Priya’s experience of school is captured in a short piece of graphic writing she did in Whispers in the Classroom Voices on the Field. The petite artist says she always carries a notebook with her, the interesting characters and situations she meets and encounters later weaving their way into her illustrations. In fact, she features Delhi and its denizens and the imageries of her various travels in her blog ( So, what next? “Well, I hope to finish writing and illustrating some of my own books.”

Related Topics
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Jan 17, 2021 3:24:37 PM |

Next Story