Born 9th February 1981
Place of BirthKochi
City of residenceNew Delhi
- The Baby Bahadur series – 5 books for Tulika publishers
- Where is Gola’s Home – Tulika publishers
- When Ali Became Bajrangbali – Tulika
- Just so stories – 5 books for Puffin’s ladybird series
- The Rituchkra series – 5 books for Pratham
- The Fried Frog and Other Funny Freaky Foodie Fiesty Poems – Scholastic
- Taranauts series of 8 books – Hachette
- Escape from Java and Other Tales of Danger – Puffin
- Rooster Raga – Tulika
- This Book Makes No Sense – Scholastic
- Book Uncle and Me – Scholastic
- The Great India Activity Book – Scholastic
- Bookasura– Scholastic
- India an Alphabet Ride – Nataraj
- City Tales series- 4 books – Oxford University Press, Pakistan
And many more…
Priya Kuriyan is a children’s book illustrator, comic book artist and an animator. A graduate of the National Institute of Design (Ahmedabad), she has directed educational films for the Sesame street show (India) and the Children’s Film Society of India (CFSI), and illustrated numerous children’s books for various Indian publishers. She currently lives in New Delhi.
Fantastic Five – Five of my favourite books
I Want My Hat Back – Jon Klassen I love the simple cut out illustrations and the dark humour employed in the book.
Wolves – Emily Gravett Apart from the illustrations, I love the sense of danger that builds up with each page and the slightly ambiguous ending.
Today is My Day – Piet Grobler and Anushka Ravishankar The illustrations by Piet Grobler are really quirky. I love the fact that the central character of the story which is told in verse is not a typical goody-two-shoes kind of a girl. Typography has also been used in very interesting ways.
A Monster Calls – Patrick Ness / Jim Kay This Young adult book about a child coming to terms with his mother’s imminent death to cancer is unusual and extremely moving. The illustrations by Jim Kay are beautiful and unlike any other children’s book I have seen.
The London Jungle Book – Bhajju Shyam Bhajju Shyam visualises London with an almost childlike sensibility. The images from the London underground to the Big Ben that grace the cover are delightful!
Tell us about your earliest attempts at illustrating. When, where and from whom did you learn the nittygritties of illustration?
Actually I don’t remember a time that I didn’t draw. A lot of drawing is just learnt by solitary practice and more practice, but going to the National Institute of Design made me think about what I was drawing much more.
Where do the ideas for your cartoons come from?
I think it’s just by keeping my eyes open and remaining conscious of what is happening around me.
Apart from their physical attributes,
What does your typical working day look like?
I don’t think I can follow a fixed schedule everyday. A day in my life is pretty quiet, mostly. I like working late into the night and therefore tend to start my work day around 11:00 am. The day completely depends on what project I’m doing and what stage of the project I am in.
There are days when I just need to think conceptually, and maybe crack a look for a book cover or an editorial illustration or a story for a comic. On those days most of my time is divided between thinking and doodling, and I tend to spend a lot of time switching from one thing to the other – while constantly thinking of the project at the back of my mind until it finally takes shape. I know on the outside it just looks like I’m wasting time doing almost nothing, but sometimes I just have to wait until the right idea strikes me. On certain days it’s just the opposite – if I’ve reached that point in my project, when I know exactly what to do, I can just sit (working) for hours and hours with utter concentration.
In the evenings I usually step out for a walk or a run. I get back to work post dinner. Just before this is also the time I get online and catch up with whatever’s happening in the online world. I usually work late into the night since there are really very few distractions – no phone calls, no bells ringing. I usually end the day reading a book before sleeping.
What is one habit / trait of yours that makes you effective / productive as an illustrator?
What is the one thing that you recommend every aspiring illustrator should do?
Tell us something about yourself that very few people know?
I can do a very good fake Bengali-English accent.
Does technology (the Internet, software tools) help you in your illustrating process? If yes, can you tell us about them?
Yes, of course. I use a lot of photoshop and other illustration software. But one must remember that it’s just another medium – like watercolours or poster colours. One has to really work with it to find out what its qualities are – both pros and cons.
Is there any other way in which technology can help you in your work as illustrator?
Well, social media has been a great boon.
One never knows who spots it and what kind of alchemy happens. It’s also easy to reach out to other artists and see the kind of work they are doing and feel inspired by them. There is also the possibility of collaborating across different multimedia platforms where people from different backgrounds bring their own skills to the table and create new products.
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others? (include websites, blogs or Twitter profiles, etc).
Well there are lots of artists whose work I follow. To name a few:
Shaun Tan (http://www.shauntan.net/)
Oliver Jeffers (http://www.oliverjeffers.com/)
Jon Klassen (http://jonklassen.tumblr.com/)
Emily Gravett (http://www.panmacmillan.com/author/emilygravett)
Actually there are too many to name here. I like listening to podcasts like Radiolab and This American Life while I work – some of them are unrelated to art and design but nonetheless they’re inspiring.
Can you tell about what you are currently working on and other works in the pipeline?
I’m currently working on illustrating some stories by Ruskin Bond and a picture book for Karadi Tales.
Can you tell us about your interest in writing comics?
I started writing comics as a way to just keep a sort of memory – a diary of things I thought were interesting.
Book Uncle and Me won the 2013 Crossword Book Award for Children’s Literature. Bookasura – The Adventures of Bala and the Book-eating Monster won the Best Publication for Children award at Comic Con India 2015. Your thoughts on awards and recognitions?
Well, it’s always nice to be recognised for the work that one has done, but I don’t think there are any serious awards for illustration in India as such. It’s a bit unfortunate, but I’m sure things will get better. I think the good thing about awards is that it brings focus onto the profession, and that’s always a good thing for the illustration community.
You studied animation in NID, Ahmedabad, the best design school in India. What drew you to freelance illustration of children’s books, setting aside other opportunities?
I had already begun illustrating for children’s books by the time I graduated from NID, and it was something I continued to do. Part of the process of making animation films involved making conceptual art for it. That’s the stage I enjoyed immensely, because I could use various illustration techniques to ideate without having to worry about the practicalities of how to make the drawings move. Working for Sesame Street (right after leaving a job in Mumbai, which was in a production house that made animated ad films), and working on these books in parallel helped me realise that this was the space I enjoyed working in. Also, everyone in children’s book publishing was so nice and polite! After my stint at the Sesame show was over, I decided to work independently and freelance. Thankfully, it’s been a really satisfying journey, and some really enjoyable projects have come along the way.
Find me at
PlusMinus’n’More: Thank you Priya, for being our guest on F-pages and sharing with us your experiences as an illustrator.