How many here are fans of Enid Blyton? You remember reading the books into the night with a torch under the sheets? I do, so when I found out that an illustrator I wanted to interview (for the Gita For Children) had also done the covers of the Secret series for Enid Blyton, I almost whooped in glee. Meet Sayan Mukherjee, the illustrator who has gotten to do the covers one of the most iconic books ever. (I’m not sure if I’m talking about the Gita or Enid Blyton here. Lol)
1. The Gita is very important in our country and the Gita for children is very important since it’s probably their first introduction to the writings. How was the experience?
Working on the Gita for children was an enriching experience for me. As a kid I remember reading Gita once. But I couldn’t understand much about it. I think it’s not very easy for kids to understand. The Gita for children made it very easy for the kids. It simplified the whole concept beautifully.
While working on the Gita for children I tried to keep the illustrations very simple to make them talk to the kids. Kids relate to simplicity and that was my brief to follow while working on the book.
2.How did you get started as an illustrator and what was your very first bookish illustration?
I illustrated a graphic novel, which was a graphic adaptation of a famous bengali novel called Chaander pahaar. It got published from the house of Penguin Random House in 2014. It was one of my favourite bengali novels since my childhood days. The day was very special when I was working in the office and the first copy of the printed book came to me fresh from the press. It was a dream come true moment and it will always be special for me.
3. I hear you’ve done the covers of The Enid Blyton Secret Series. The Enid Blyton is absolutely iconic. When I was young I had the covers with the yellow outline and a picture inset with the wordings on top in black and yellow. That’s iconic as well, both to the time and the series. What did you do to make it modern yet retain that flavour?
I tried to make the covers look bright, colourful and vibrant. That’s all I did for this particular project. I generally use a lot of colours in my artwork and I felt these covers somehow demanded to be more colourful. I didn’t follow any particular brief to retain the flavour. Before starting the work, I was scribbling and came up with the idea of making the cover look vibrant. It was a fun project for me altogether where I had all the freedom to make the covers as I wanted. I am thankful to my editor and publisher who saw the final cover from the first pencil sketch.
4. Was it intimidating to do the covers of such a loved series.
It can be a bit intimidating if one thinks in a particular way. To me, it was an opportunity to make the covers in a way which I wanted to see them as. I am actually thankful to my publisher who liked the work and saw it as the covers from the basic sketches for the new series.
5. What is the favourite cover among the ones you’ve done?
I liked both the covers of The Gita for Children and The Enid Blyton’s Secret Series.
6.There are cover awards abroad and cover designers get recognition, even if it’s only a little. Do you think this’ll come to India soon too?
As you know a book is judged by its cover. Hence, the cover artists should get the recognition. I think Kyoorius is doing a pretty good job in acknowledging the craft in design in India. Kyoorius has their design awards where they have categories for the book jacket designs as well. It has started in India and I hope it will become big where artists in publishing will also get recognised.
It’s one of the oldest books in the world and India’s biggest blockbuster bestseller!
- – But isn’t it meant only for religious old people?
- – But isn’t it very long… and, erm, super difficult to read?
- – But isn’t the stuff it talks about way too complex for regular folks to understand?
Prepare to be surprised.
Roopa Pai’s spirited, one-of-a-kind retelling of the epic conversation between Pandava prince Arjuna and his mentor and friend Krishna busts these and other such myths about the Bhagavad Gita. Lucid, thought-provoking and brimming with fun trivia, this book will stay with you long after you have turned the last page.
I hope you enjoyed reading that as much as I did doing the interview. I can’t wait to see more cover design awards and see artists get more recognition in India.
Which of the covers above is your favourite? Tell me in the comments below. Mine is the secret island, I love the blues.
*You can follow Sayan on Behance to see what he’s working on.