For the latest Show & Tell we invited illustrator, friend and collaborator Priya Kuriyan to speak about her work (online here and here). Priya has worked across a wide range of projects from Penguin Book covers to Discovery Channel animations, editorial illustrations for the BBC to packaging illustration, not to mention editing graphic novels and now writing her own picture books as well as continuing to illustrate them. Priya’s commitment to her work, whether commissioned or self-initiated, seemed to set the tone of the evening and resonated with several of the other people and projects presented. As a whole this week’s presentations were especially inspiring, not simply because of the projects on display, but because of the drive behind them.
Priya took us through some examples of how, in illustrating children’s books, she weaves in subtle references to popular culture and current events, finding things that will strike a chord with both children and adults alike. She mentioned how conscious she has become of creating characters that represent a more realistic range of people — why can’t a wife be taller than her husband? — creating books which offer a more honest reflection of the world around us, or at least the world we’d like to live in. Beyond commissioned work, one of Priya’s recent projects, a return to observational sketching, captures the eccentrics and eccentricities of Delhi. A great and at times hilarious reminder for us all of how drawing helps us to look afresh at the everyday and become more aware.
Sid’s presented the work of John Gurche, a paleoartist revered for the quality and scientific accuracy of his sculptural reconstructions of hominids and early humans. An accomplished painter and illustrator, his renderings of dinosaurs have been seen everywhere from the covers of National Geographic magazine, to character designs in Jurassic Park. His work is breathtaking, but it was his dedication to an accuracy that few people experiencing his work will ever appreciate, that really blew me away. To strive for years to reconstruct something that perhaps only you yourself will ever know the accuracy of, is humbling.
“Who are you? We beings from your future are using every method we can devise to bring you into focus and answer this question. We want to know you, to see your face, even to experience the world through your senses […] We sift through the debris you cast off, trying to understand the way you lived. We hold the tools that you made and feel a connection with you […] We would so like to know about your life, what you think about when you gaze into a starry night sky. Do you wonder about your people’s future, about whether there will be heirs to inherit your world and your ways? We can answer: Yes, for we are they.” – Excerpt from Shaping Humanity, by John Gurche.
Another remarkable amount of dedication, this time to sustainability, was as the roots of the work of two architecture firms presented by Sijya this week. Elemental and Vo Trong Nghia, Sijya explained, go out of their way, regardless of the brief, to make buildings which are substantially more sustainable. Often with small budgets and contradictory briefs, they do this not because projects call for this but because this has become a given in everything they do.
On a smaller, more subtle level, Little Big Details, presented by Pragun this week, is a site which curates and celebrates the finer details in the field of UI/UX design. The little things that enrich the user’s experience of an interface, quietly building the voice of the site one click and error-warning at a time. Sometimes seen, sometimes almost invisible, like the Google maps Pegman wearing the shirt of the competing country during the world cup, these small tweaks happen because someone has stopped talking about the ‘big idea’ and started thinking about the little ones.
With our long-term engagement on the quarterly colour magazine for Asian Paints, Mohor explained she is always on the look out for other brands focusing on content as opposed to other, more traditional forms of advertising. Mohor spoke about such brands which put extra effort into creating new content, and in doing so build their own, more tangible stories. Casper, a mattress startup, for example, recently launched Van Winkles and editorial platform which publishes articles around aspects of sleep. More on this soon from Mohor who will be putting down her thoughts in a more comprehensive post.
Also, in preparation for a another blog post, I presented some thoughts on copying — what we mean when we talk about it and why it might not be so bad afterall. My main point was really that we need to define what we mean a little more clearly when we speak about copying, especially as the debate around copying, and copyright, takes on new and interesting trajectories. There is a whole vocabulary around copying that helps us talk about it and the intent behind it in clearer and more nuanced terms. Again, more on this to come, in the meantime I’ll leave you with the most amusing copy (of a copy of a copy) I found.