KOCHI: In Norwegian author and filmmaker Paul Wennersberg-Løvholen’s ‘Super Farty Pants’, farting isn’t humiliating, rather it can help you save the day (you heard that right). The protagonist Amelia is granted superpowers wherein she can propel herself through the air by consuming vegetables. Now, how cool is that? The adorable girl who farts is brought to life by Palakkad native and artist Kamala M Nair.
Conceivably, the 25-year-old has a swell job - illustrating children’s books, an understandably herculean task as opposed to illustrating for adults. Represented by New York and London-based illustration agency ‘Astound’, Kamala’s work exudes lively and spectacular illustrations marked by colour palettes that can uplift a child’s senses.
“After graduating from school, I wanted a career that was a blend of art and science. And what better than architecture, right? However, during the final year of my course, I started exploring other opportunities and came across illustrations, which I found rather intriguing.
The primary reason for my transition to a children’s book illustrator can be attributed to the fact that I wasn’t quite happy. Around the time, I realised that I was most myself when I was dabbling in art as a child. Realisation struck and I shifted. My current job makes me feel more connected to the kid in me,” says the Bengaluru-based illustrator.
Kamala believes that children’s books authors and illustrators have an enormous role to play in shaping a child’s mind. “When we talk about the problems in our society, we fail to recognise that the same wasn’t introspected at a younger age. Having stories that focus on societal issues not in a preachy manner but in a funny, comical perspective of storytelling, would easily grab a child’s attention,” she says.
Though she has illustrated six books, Kamala also makes it a point to work on her personal projects, from illustrating cutesy characters that help reminisce her time in Kerala as part of #Childhoodweek to mythical creatures in #Incrediblecreatures week.
“Paul found my artwork through social platforms. His story was insane but brilliant, with a distinct take on subjects like farting and burping. I was instantly drawn to it. Super Farty Pants 2 released this year. While the first book had more of funky colour palettes, the second, set in Paris, had a vintage aesthetic. We also had a set of diverse characters - an Indian and a superhero on a wheelchair. This brings in more inclusivity and relatability,” elaborates Kamala.
“I choose a project only if the story is impactful and challenging. The other factor is the time frame. I begin my process with research. Character design is imperative as children must develop a connection to the same. Storyboarding is next on charts wherein the text and illustrations are divided into panels for better visual representation. After storyboarding is approved, we decide on the colour palette for the book, depending on the target age group. The final stage begins with illustrating the book in its entirety,” explains Kamala.
She stresses on the mindfulness one requires to illustrate for kids. “Two to three-year-olds process information in a different manner than five-year-olds. For the former, we opt for larger illustrations with primary colours,” she says.
‘We did it together’
Kamala turned author and illustrator last year for her book ‘We did it together’. “While it has always been a dream to write and visualise, my book is more informative rather than a story. During the lockdown, many kids faced anxiety while staying indoors. ‘We did it together’ by Ember Publishing house, educates them, provides additional resources and teaches them about preventive measures,” she says. Kamala is currently working on a few manuscripts, while illustrating her character as a fox. In a parallel universe, she would like to give a different spin to fairy tales.