Bhavana Vyas Vipparthi and the Mixed Media Monster

Posted by Remya Padmadas on April 30, 2018


Bhavana Vyas Vipparthi, has lived and studied in Bangalore all her life. Having finished a Fine Arts course at Srishti, School of Art Design And Technology, she went on to do a masters in animation film design at NID in Ahmadabad. Her mind is now consumed by her terribly talkative three and a half year old son and  perfect dog. She makes up a million stories a day to stay sane. You can find her work on She has illustrated two books for Pratham Books, 'A Cloud of Trash' by Karanjeet Jaur and 'Absent-minded Ajja' by Arundhati Venkatesh.

Graphic Designer Vriddhi Chaudhry had some questions for Bhavana about her work in mixed media, and her ideal 'art day' at home and shared them with her over email. Here are Bhavana's answers. 

1.How did you develop your personal style? Have there been any significant events or projects that led to this development?

I have always been comfortable working with mixed media. If given a free reign without any client restrictions on style and treatment, the mixed media monster always takes over the playing field. From my diploma project in Art School (a wordless picture book) to animation art-boards that followed , the wonderful play of drawings, cutouts and reality has always excited me.

2. What is your creative process like? Are there any practices you follow during when creating?

I usually always start visualizing any project, be it an animated spot or a book by making really rough thumbnails of the ideas that come into my head. Just quick doodles to get the initial images and scenes down on paper. Some pages in the book haven’t changed at all from that early initial doodle, while others have completely transformed.

After that I work out what the characters will look like, and their environment. This takes a lot of scribbling and ideating. When I have come to a place that I am happy with, I make a final storyboard of the book. Then I start to gather my materials. Different kinds of paper, leaves to be shot etc. The final page layouts are final drawings of the whole page, made from the client approved storyboards. They are made to the print page specifications, as this also works as my template of the cutouts. Using these as a guide I make cutouts for each page.  The characters, roots etc are made in parts, painted in, and I stick them onto OHP sheets to keep them organized by pages. Some parts are really small and tend to get lost. These sheets are then photographed, cleaned up and composited with all the other elements(backgrounds/leaves) on Photoshop.

3. What is the most challenging part about being a mixed media artist? 

I can usually see how the end result will look as I start to doodle. The challenge is to convince the client about your idea. Fortunately I had a wonderful editor who was not only incredibly patient, but also gave me her total confidence. I had a great time making the art for "Absent minded Ajja" thanks to Bijal.

4. What was your inspiration for Absent-Minded Ajja? How would you say your surroundings have influenced your work in Absent Minded Ajja?

When I read the story, I know I wanted to make them more then just a regular family. I wanted to have fun and make it a bit quirky. Ajja is dressed like my father, in a kurta pajama, but I added the beard in last minute to make him a bit more lovable. The things around the burrow are inspired by things my son is into right now. Crayons, the golf ball (which is an asteroid at home) and the broken fork etc, were things I thought Sujju would like to collect. I love ferns and mushrooms and plants and bits of all these things are in there.


5. How do you go about selecting texture, materials and patterns?  

All the leaves in the book are from a picnic we had in Lalbagh. I just filled up a small bag and took pictures when I got home. The clothes of the rabbits and the roots are different kinds of paper. I have a big soft spot for all kinds of paper, handmade/recycled/printed…anything. And any excuse to buy more paper works for me. Most of the time I have a clear idea of what I need to source, and sometimes the paper inspires its own use.

6. Often working in an organization gives you a supportive feedback system. While working by yourself what criteria do you use to critique your work?

Funnily enough, my three and a half year old was my constant critic for the art on Ajja. He would ask about what was happening on each page and narrate the story back to me as I worked on Photoshop. My husband is also an animator and artist, and an approving nod from him is always hard-earned, so that keeps me on track too.

7. What is the one thing you learnt while working on Absent Minded Ajja?

Working within the constraints of a story while setting up your own challenges was a good learning experience on the book.

8. What do you hope to accomplish with your work?

I love children books. I buy lots of them mainly for the art. Now I end up reading the same ones a 100 times over to my son. I really enjoy the ones where there are many things to look at in a page and every-time you revisit them they seem new. 

9. If you could imagine the “perfect art day” for yourself, what would it be like?

The perfect art day is an impossible dream for me right now. With a home schooled toddler in a small nuclear family, time management is my biggest enemy. I really struggle to juggle all my mom jobs and get enough time to do everything else. But a perfect art day would be to just sit undisturbed and get lost in the job with a few hours in-between of paper shopping.