Monday, October 22, 2012

Interview with TimeOut Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore- Friend Request

My Facebook Friends takes its readers on a worldwide tour

   My Facebook Friends 
"My Facebook Friends " is a collection of ten profiles of people and the places they inhabit all over the world. Sunalini Mathew spoke to illustrator and writer Kavita Singh Kale, an artist who documents the everyday lives of people she has come to know over the years.

What triggered the book?
I had a scrapbook, where I had stuck passport-size photographs of all my friends, one next to the other. Then I began to draw on top of these, and they became a book of sketches. I transferred this idea on to an acrylic-on-canvas, called “Facebook”. So all the sketches in the painting are of real people – my friends. My publishers [Tulika] were keen on using the painting as the book cover. You can pick out the people I have talked about in the book from
the cover. So the concept of all my friends together in one place has gone from a book, to a painting, to a book again. This is another form of Facebook – a hard copy version, a tease.

What was your source of inspi­ration to write and illustrate the book?
When I was at NID [National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad], a part of my animation film course was a subject called Environmental Perception. We had to go to a place, live there for a week, and do intensive research. We could sketch and keep notes about their houses, lives and objects they used, but we were not allowed to photograph anything. This is where the idea of the “Keepsake” at the end of each person’s profile came about. It is an object from the place that you can learn about.

Why did think of doing it as a book for kids?
I’ve met such nice people from different parts of the world (except Ng’endo, who is an Internet friend I’ve met only online). I thought I could share their stories with kids ten years and above, as I talk about different professions (artist, wedding planner, scientist), ages (20s to 60s) and places (Seoul, McLeodganj). It’s nice for kids to be exposed to all these things at a young age. They may open their minds to the fact that you can have friends from anywhere in the world and not everyone has to be your age to be your friend. It’s also about travelling, meeting new people, learning new things.

What part of the book did you enjoy doing the most?
I enjoyed doing the history part. When I was doing the research, I realised that almost every place had been under British rule, so I highlighted different parts of history for different places. I also spoke to the people that I was talking about, and asked them what places they liked the best in their towns. I made these into full-page illustrations. I had seen most of these places, but I also used photographs and some imagination. Like in the case of the Kaadu Malleswara Temple, the temple is there, but the crowd in front is my own addition.

Can you describe the illustrative style of the book?
The character design is not complex; the lines are simple, without too much detailing. It is almost a comic book-style. Maybe this comes from my work as an animation filmmaker. Each drawing is a frame. I am a transmedia artist. This means that an idea gets translated from one medium into another. An example of transmedia art would be making toys from the characters of an animation film.
I also like colourful matchboxes and children’s charts that you get at stationary stores – the ones where there’s a fish drawn in a box, and the caption says “Fish” at the top. The water colours in the book are also something like that. I like to talk about real people and situations, and about contemporary and current topics. People say that there is humour and a little sarcasm in my work.

What would you like to tell parents and children about life and learning?
When you travel with your children, of course you will do all the usual monuments, but also take time to walk through the place, so that you can do something unstructured and unplanned. Kids can take the format of the book and use it to create their own picture book, with their own friends and impressions.

My Facebook Friends by Kavita Singh Kale. Tulika, Rs. 200.

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