Children’s books illustrator, Sumouli Datta freely expresses what she loves about illustrating specifically for this genre and unravels significant elements that go into the process. Keeping the child within alive is key, she highlights alongside other valuable insights openly shared in this interaction.
Based in Kolkata, India, Sumouli Datta has designed more than 20 Children’s books and covers. A full-time illustrator who characterizes her style as a jolt of happiness and sunshine. Mostly into children’s book illustration, digital & custom illustration. Sumouli also conducts workshops for budding artists. Google, Netflix, and Amazon are only some of her clients.
Could you please elaborate on your journey in the field of design, in terms of formal education, personal learning, projects, clients and experiences?
Sumouli: I have been very inclined towards creative work since my childhood. I was the one in the entire class who used to wait eagerly for the art class. Jumping straight to my graduation, I did a course in Multimedia. Then my art journey took a detour from the creative to the corporate field. Interestingly, art was within me and was not willing to give up on me. I ended up making random, small illustrations using ball pen and paper during work breaks. A colleague suggested starting a social media art page. I then got exposed to a whole new world of
Illustrations, great artists, and much more. My goal changed immediately and I started working hard with all my passion to achieve certain short and long-term goals. The journey I am living is the best. I have learned a lot from my first commission to what I am doing now. The girl who was willing to work for free now collaborates and works with top brands.
What design elements do you apply in your work to ensure it gets the ‘jolt of happiness and sunshine’ you characterise it as?
Sumouli: All my illustrations are full of warmth and a lot of playing with light and shadow. That’s my style. I struggled a lot to find it and, now that I’ve found it, I am just living my best time with it.
What kind of expectations do clients have when providing the brief and what’s your process to execute it?
Sumouli: Each work is different from the other. My range of work starts from children’s books illustrations to digital wall murals for restaurants, personal projects, brand collaborations. It is a very general routine for all types of work that I take 50% advance after the brief. I only take up the project if I see the client is very crisp and clear with it. I tend to avoid clients who come with vague briefs. Once the work is done with a two-step approval (one after sketching and another after coloring), I share the final file and take the remaining amount. That’s pretty much it.
How did you get into specialising in illustrating Children’s books and covers? Could you please highlight the most noteworthy
Sumouli: l love this question. After being active on social media. I instantly realized my love for Children’s books illustration because of the composition, dynamic gesture, colors, and light and shadow play. Every book is very unique yet similar. I struggled to get my first book for 2 years but, since then, have got multiple opportunities. The most noteworthy one is my recent one – I illustrated the whole book for Ruskin Bond’s, ‘Tales From My Heart’ in collaboration with Westland Publications.
Having also illustrated for such a variety of brands, could you please elaborate on your most significant projects in that genre?
Sumouli: My best Brand Collaboration project was definitely with Google. We educated underprivileged kids about Google Doodle. For best learning, we also allowed them to learn to doodle during the event.
How do you achieve making your work relatable for children or even the childishness in adults and what differences do you find in it from illustrating otherwise?
Sumouli: I try to illustrate keeping the child in me alive. That’s the key when I illustrate children’s books. I try to imagine what I would have wanted to see along with the script.
What kind of customised projects have you been involved in and do you choose any particular kinds?
Sumouli: Couple illustrations, family portraits, and wedding cards are most of my projects. I take a maximum of 3 in a month to manage along with other commercial commissions.
What’s your vision for the kind of works you wish to do hereon and your further growth as an artist?
Sumouli: I want to upskill my level as there is no end to learning. I am always looking for better opportunities to collaborate and bring out the best in me, which I feel is yet to come as I am trying to improve my skill-set regularly.
How do you feel children’s illustration has evolved, from the not-too-long-ago pre-digital era to a more digital phase now?
Sumouli: I missed such colorful illustrations during my childhood. I wish this digital era evolved earlier. I feel this is it! We are here in the oceans of colors and more imagination. The transition was required and we are still evolving for good.