Born 12 December, 1984
Place of BirthKolkata
City of residenceMumbai
- The Magic Pakodas (Amar Chitra Katha)
- Little Painters (Pratham Books)
- Kavi Series – 4 books (Karadi Tales)
- Ashoka and the Muddled Messages (Duckbill Books)
- Fakruddin’s Fridge (Tulika Books)
- What Shall I Wear Today (Pratham Books)
Tanvi Bhat is a freelance illustrator who lives in Mumbai and loves the rains. She’s a self-taught artist who loves to draw for children’s books. In the past few years she’s illustrated various books with Pratham Books, Amar Chitra Katha, Karadi Tales, Duckbill Books and Tulika Books. She has also conducted illustration workshops at various literature festivals like Kala Ghoda and Junior Writers Bug. She works with water colors and gouache and gets her inspiration from things she sees when out exploring the streets of colorful India.
Fantastic Five – Five of my favourite books
I’m mentioning all my favorite children’s books first and then a few fiction titles I love.
Esio Trot (Author: Roald Dahl, Illustrator: Quentin Blake) It’s hard to pick a favorite amongst all the Dahl-Blake world of magic but I feel my heart clung really hard to this particular story.
Icky Yucky Mucky (Author: Natasha Sharma, Illustrator: Anitha Balachandran) This delightfully icky book is another one of my favorites. I think this is one book I totally feel at home with!
Tiger on a Tree (Author: Anushka Ravishankar, Illustrator: Pulak Biswas) The art in Tiger on a Tree sends me right back to my Bengal days. Such simple strokes and yet so effective and powerful. And the story is stark and heart wrenching.
Embroideries (Author and Illustrator: Marjane Satrapi) This isn’t a children’s book, but I must mention it. Embroideries is such a wonderful book about women talking about being women. It’s a peek into an afternoon full of delightful conversations on varied subjects.
Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman, Roald Dahl’s collection of short stories for Adults, Birthday Stories by Haruki Murakami These are a few short story anthologies that I absolutely love!
Tell us about your earliest attempts at sketching/drawing. When, where and from whom did you learn the nittygritties of illustration?
I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember, on walls, on my face with my mother’s make-up. I’d make cards for every person I’d meet! Although I never thought I’d be an artist.
It was only after I took up an animation course that I realized how much I loved art and even then it took me a year at an animation job to realize that I was only illustrating all the time. At that point I just listened to my heart and started drawing as a job.
I guess I’m a self taught artist even though I don’t believe in the notion of it. I feel we pick up little things from our life and people we meet and things we see. It’s these little things that ultimately teach us about art.
They come from many, many sources.
I find their thinking to be so fresh, original and unique.
What does your typical working day look like?
Wake-up, laze with tea and TV (it’s Downton Abbey at the moment, and I’m not going to admit it if you ask me in person!) Then I get to work, and work through the afternoon, mostly in my nightie. Shower and evening tea come around 6 pm and then back to work if I need to. If it’s an errands day then there’s no method to the madness.
What is one habit / trait of yours that makes you effective / productive as an illustrator?
I’m a big procrastinator, but working in ad agencies in my past has made me a quick worker. So I take a good amount of time to create the world for my story (characters, style) and once that’s done, I work fairly quickly to finish the pages.
Read, follow amazing artists and be confident of your voice. I feel that’s most important. I had people uplifting my creative ideas when I needed self assurance the most. But even if you don’t have that, know that there is a place for your art and you will find that little ‘you’ shaped hole in the world.
Tell us something about yourself that very few people know?
I have an extreme love-hate relationship with pigeons.
I have a hate-hate relationship with mosquitoes. There’s a zero tolerance policy in my home. That zapping racket is my favorite gadget. 🙂
I have a really funny drawing face. I’ll show it to you if you come for tea one afternoon!
Does technology (the Internet, software tools) help you in your illustrating process? If yes, can you tell us about them?
A bit. It helps me stalk my favorite artists and be up-to-date with their work. It helps my mind wander when it needs to. And most importantly it allows me to correct my ‘outside the lines’ coloring.
Is there any other way in which technology can help you in your work as writer?
Illustrating is such an isolating job. I sit alone at home and draw. Technology helps in letting me know that there are people who enjoy my work, that kids are reading the books I draw, and that it’s not all in my head.
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others? (include websites, blogs or Twitter profiles, etc).
So many artists influence my work. Quentin Blake, Prashant Miranda, Priya Kurian, Maurice Sendak, Oliver Jeffers, Donald Drawbertson, Yelena Bryksenkova, Mattias Adolfsson … the list can go on and on.
Can you tell about what you are currently working on and other works in the pipeline?
I’m currently working on a lovely storybook with Duckbill Books about a girl who has special powers. Also working on an app book with a client. The story for the app is a brilliantly funny one as well, with magical elephants and what not.
I think you definitely need an eye for aesthetics, but other than that there are no rules in illustration. It’s not fine art, it’s a means of expression. And I feel so strongly that art lessons in school discourage kids from being creative and convince them that they’re no good at drawing!
Does illustrating for historical fiction like “Ashoka and the muddled messages” pose any specific challenges?
Oh there were challenges. But Natasha Sharma had found me solutions before I had even thought of the questions. We wanted the illustrations to be as historically accurate as possible, and she went to great lengths to do all the research. I just had fun drawing and reading juicy tidbits from history.
Ten years from now, what do you see yourself as (professionally)?
I refuse to look so far into the future but the one thing I can hope for is that by then I would be able to draw hands better!
Find me at
Twitter handle: @tanvichoudhury
PlusMinus’n’More: Thank you Tanvi, for being our guest on F-pages and sharing with us your experiences as an illustrator.