Anjora Noronha was one of the Illustrator Gurus for our #6FrameStoryChallenge in 2015, and we're delighted that she is illustrating a book for Pratham Books this year. Written by Sheila Dhir, this story is about the moving friendship between a goby fish and a pistol shrimp who live deep in the ocean.
Read a short interview with Anjora, in which she gives us a peek into into her illustration process.
What mediums do you most enjoy working with? How do you choose a particular medium for a story?
For personal projects, my drawing kit contains a sketchbook, watercolour postcards, a tiny bottle of Indian ink, a tiny tube of watercolour in ivory black, a mechanical pencil, a 'pencil' eraser, an aquapen, a MUJI gel pen (LOVE) and lots of tissues collected from all over the place.
Other than that, I don't have a particular style or medium that I work with, so the start of a new project is always a mix of excitement and nervousness at discovering which medium is going to be the medium of choice. I somehow never know, and so each time I start, I have to go through sheets and sheets of paper and material, looking for what 'feels right'. 'What feels right' includes: how much texture I can achieve; if the essence of the medium suits the essence of the story (this is naturally highly subjective); and also very simply - if it excites me.
What kind of stories do you enjoy working on the most?
For children's books I prefer working on books that have a strong environmental theme. For adults I prefer working on stories about people and cultures. My favourite thing to draw is portraits of people I meet when I travel.
Which part of your work do you enjoy the most, and which part do you enjoy the least?
The most enjoyable part is when all the frames and page sketches have been approved and finalized, and it's time to colour them in. That is the most charming part of any project for me: I put on music, or a podcast, and spend hours glued to my desk in creative solitude. Most details have been decided by this stage, at this point it is a matter of turning off the thinking side of my brain and allowing things to happen on their own. I sleep at night excited about the next day of drawing. Even though I find it more challenging, I also love the character development stage because either I act out expressions and postures, or I ask someone to act them out for me. What I enjoy the least is scanning and cleaning the final artworks and preparing them for print. Following that, there's always the big existential angst about which font to chose, and at what size, with very few helpful cues from the universe.
This year, you’re illustrating a book for us on the symbiotic relationship between a goby fish and a pistol shrimp. We loved all the character sketches you made for this. What kind of preparation goes into illustrating a book for children?
Ideally, the initial stage would involve doing studies of the characters from life, but since I didn't have access to the two main characters in the story I'm currently working on, I watched as many YouTube videos and read as many articles as I could. Then I filled many pages with drawing after drawing of the characters, repeating them over and over again. My aim was to get to know these two so that I could intuitively draw them in any situation. This was followed by a style and colour test, which is the phase where I try to discover which medium I will be working in. For this book, it is colour pencil, which is a medium I have never worked in before. I tweaked my colour palette multiple times and drew one page over and over again, changing individual details with every attempt to discover what textures and effects I could achieve with them. I have stopped using sites like Pinterest to find inspiration.
The third phase has been to thumbnail the entire book, and incorporate feedback. The practical side of illustrating for children cannot be ignored, and I like collaborating with editors as they are involved in the entire process but are not stubborn and attached to everything (as illustrators tend to get). This is where we have reached so far. Some pages need to be tweaked, some are good to spend afternoons of coffee and music with. Each thumbnail will be fully detailed and shared with the editors before being coloured in. The last stage is scanning, cleaning and layout. After that I hand over the files and wait for the printed books to come by mail :)
Who are some of the illustrators whose work you follow closely?
For children's books: Carson Ellis and Júlia Sardå Portabella. http://www.carsonellis.comhttp://www.carsonellis.com has a Q&A section on her website, and one of the things she speaks about is her limited gouache colour palette, and how - when she added a colour to it - it was quite ground-breaking for her. Júlia Sardå Portabella seems to work mostly digitally, so I turn to her work for clues on how to work digitally - a new medium for me. Recently I discovered the work of Joann Sfar, and have bought every book of his that I can get my hands on. The colourful and surprising artwork of Brecht Evens. One of my favourite young, contemporary artists is this guy called Ward Zwart, who puts up a lot of his work online, but is very mysterious otherwise. (He did reply directly to a message I left him on Instagram though :) Stephanie K. Birdsong, mostly known as shoulda-woulda-coulda: for her daily and very quirky warm up paintings in her Planner. Oh, to be so productive on a daily basis! And of course, the work of my peers in India, some of whom I know personally, and whose creative journeys I have been following for a while now.
How do you deal with creative blocks?
In three ways. The first is that I break down what I have to do into micro steps, and then push myself to complete one micro-task after the other, all the while telling myself that I can change everything at a later stage. The point is just to gain momentum, which always leads to enthusiasm. Most of the time, producing a lot of work that doesn't work leads to something that does work, and when that moment comes, the Battle against the Block is won. The more involved I get with an artwork, the more enthusiastic I am to delve into the details and spend time on it. The second is that I try to meet someone who is currently in a good creative place / moment. There is nothing that kindles my excitement about the work that we illustrators and designers do, than having a long, dense conversation about the nitty-gritties of the creative process. There hasn't been a time when it hasn't left me fired up to sit down at my own table and MAKE. The third is to not allow myself a break after completing a big project, so that I don't lose the rhythm and flow, but I'm still working on that, I almost always end up taking a short break :P
Anjora Noronha grew up in Vienna, moved back home to Goa, studied at the Srishti School of Art and Design in Bangalore, worked in Delhi, and then studied more at the University of Barcelona. She currently lives between the Indian tropics and a windy little town somewhere in northern Europe, where she works as an illustrator on a variety of projects ranging from comics, children’s books, and historical books of places long forgotten.comment (1)
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Pratham Books is a not-for-profit children's book publisher that was set up in 2004 to publish good quality, affordable books in many Indian languages. Our mission is to see ‘a book in every child’s hand’ and we have spread the joy of reading to millions of children in India. In 13 years, we have published over 3000 books and distributed over 14 million copies of our storybooks and 16 million story cards.
Last year, Pratham Books' increased its footprint by going digital. As an industry leader, we were one of the first publishers in the country to open license our content. All this content is now available on StoryWeaver, which is a digital platform that hosts stories in languages from India and beyond, so that every child can have an endless stream of stories in her mother tongue to read and enjoy. The stories can be read, translated, versioned or downloaded for free. All stories on the platform are openly licensed.
Donate-a-book, is a unique crowd-funding platform for children’s books. The platform helps to bridge the gap between individuals who want to help children read and those organizations, schools and individuals who need books for children.
At Pratham Books, we are shaping a new, innovative approach to multilingual publishing because we believe that every child needs good books to read in a language of their choice.
Pratham Books is looking for a Graphic Designer to join our digital team. This is a full-time position based in Bangalore.
The candidate will be responsible for
Designing picture books for print.
Adapting original design files (in print), and converting it into sizes and designs that are suitable for StoryWeaver - Pratham Books’ digital story platform.
Working closely with our Content Team to create and adapt content for digital and print mediums.
Working closely with the production team for the first print run of the books.
Pratham Books is a not-for-profit children's books publisher. Pratham Books’ StoryWeaver is a digital repository of openly-licensed, multilingual children’s stories.
Expertise in InDesign Creative Suite, Photoshop, Illustrator, CorelDraw
Basic graphic design skills and an interest in book layouts
Basic understanding of the printing process (digital and offset)
Minimum one to three years of relevant experience
Ability to work quickly and accurately on design files
Be a team player, quick learner
Good communication skills
Salary will be commensurate with qualifications and experience. Please send your resume to [email protected] with ‘Graphic Designer - Digital' in the subject line of the email.
APPLICATION DEADLINE EXTENDED TILL NOVEMBER 10, 2017
In keeping with our mission of putting 'a book in every child's hand', Pratham Books is inviting applications for a STEM Library Grant. With an aim to ignite curiosity in children, we want to give away 200 STEM Classroom Libraries comprising of books that explore STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) subjects and emotional intelligence.
Sometimes, Maths and Science can be daunting for children. However, when concepts are presented in a fun and engaging manner children find it easier to grasp and retain them. There is a dearth of simple, informative books for young readers and access to these books will help children in their learning journey. Pratham Books has developed a special set of books that will enrich the child’s current curriculum and be a useful classroom aid for the teachers.
The books cover a diverse range of topics in Maths, Science, Technology, Environment, and Emotional intelligence. Some of our colourful books are: How Far is Far (estimation of distances), I Spy (subtraction), Bonda and Devi (robots), Ammachi’s Amazing Machines (simple machines and their use), Autumn, Monsoon, Spring, Summer and Winter (seasons of India), Up World, Down World (biodiversity of canopy forests), A Cloud of Trash (Cleanliness), A Helping Hand (inclusivity and accepting differences), Reethi and Mithu, Angry Akku (handling emotions).
These books are sure to evoke curiosity in children and encourage them to discover and ask questions about the world around them.
What is a STEM Classroom Library Kit?
The kit is a wall-mounted modular library unit that can be put up in any classroom or library. It consists of 100+ books, primarily in STEM subjects. Hindi or English books will be given away on the basis of medium of instruction in the classroom/learning centre.
If you wish to apply for this grant, kindly go through the Application Guidelines listed below and if you fulfill the criteria, do fill out the Application Form.
Guidelines for STEM Library Kit Application :
The Applicant should be a Non-Profit Organization registered under the Societies Registration Act of 1860 or Section 25 of Companies Act of 1956 or any other legal entity under regulations of Government of India OR a Government or Private School for children from low income communities.
The Applicant should be working with children from low income communities.
The Applicant should have a functioning reading program/ active library for children with fixed reading hours outside curriculum. This reading program must give children access and opportunities to read book, which are not a part of the set curriculum and are read for the pleasure of reading.
The Applicant should be working with children from Grades 3 to 8.
The reading program that the applicant runs should impact at least 150-200 children of the community.
The applicant would be required to sign a Memorandum-Of-Understanding with Pratham Books and give regular updates and feedback on the outcomes of the library received. The organisation would have to share two structured reports before March 2018. (a set format will be shared by Pratham Books)
The applicant should be open to collaborating with Pratham Books on a programmatic intervention as per need, requirement and interest. This could be any or all of these - digital intervention, volunteering opportunities, storytelling sessions, research related programs, marketing campaigns, opportunities for interaction with children.
Only online applications sent through THIS link will be eligible for the grant. E-mail or printed applications will not be accepted.
Preference would be given to organisations who have never received a grant from Pratham Books before.
The STEM Library kit from Pratham Books is available as single language kits with books in the following languages only : English and Hindi. The kits will be granted in the same language as the medium of instruction in the classroom or learning center.
Last day of application: 3rd November 2017
Applying for the grant- Please click on THIS link to apply for the library grant.
Points to be noted
A duly filled form is imperative for us to consider your application, so please don’t miss any columns while filling in your application.
Only applications received via THIS Google Form link will be considered. Applications sent via email or post will not be eligible for the grant.
Decision of Pratham Books will be final while selecting the final list of beneficiaries for the grant.
Pratham Books is not obliged to disclose the cause of acceptance or rejection of any application.
As the applications start pouring in, we promise to read and consider every application we receive. We are also looking for new partners in this journey, so organisations who have not yet benefited from any grant from Pratham Books before will get first preference.
Please write to us at [email protected] if you have any further questions or comments.
This grant has been supported by Oracle.
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