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EliPuli | Interview with Illustrator Kalyani Ganapathy
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Interview with Illustrator Kalyani Ganapathy

Kalyani Ganapathy (@ganapathykalyani) is an illustrator and graphic designer based in Southern India with a primary interest in children’s illustration. Her colorful, iconic designs have graced the covers and interiors of many books and magazines. Her work for children can be found with Tulika (Hambreelmai’s Loom), Katha, Pratham (Look Again!, Watching My Garden Grow, Janice Goes to Chinatown and her latest, Are You The Woodpecker?) If you’re as smitten with her art as we are, you should scoot over to or can reach her via email at




If you had to choose a nursery rhyme to illustrate, what would you choose and why?

Old Mac Donald. I love animals and I think I’d have fun illustrating it.



How do you find inspiration when you start a new project? What is your process and how much research is involved?


I’m always nervous about starting a new project. Always. Once I start I find that the ideas start flowing and I can keep fine-tuning my work. I enjoy the process stage of any project a lot, whether it is interacting with an author, or just re-do a part of a sketch. This is when I allow myself to just go with the flow.


Some projects call for more research. Some don’t. In general I feel bogged down looking at too many references. I enjoy a free flow and over the years I’ve realised I’m at peace with the fact that all my work is an experiment anyway. So my research would essentially be about things I don’t know about, things that need to bear resemblance to something real.


Great Jataka Tales – Click image to view



Do you have a secret hotline you can call where kids help you with expert feedback on your art? ☺ How do you decide if your creation will speak to the young reader?


Nope, I don’t. Being a children’s illustrator is also about keeping the child in you alive and looking at life from a child’s perspective. Fortunately my mom and I share an interest in developing content for children and I can always rely on her experience as a kindergarten teacher.



What was your childhood like? Was illustrating always your passion?


My childhood was a good combination of spending time with family and friends (I went to a boarding school at 6). I was enthusiastic about life in general and curious about trying new things. I read a lot and spent a lot of time in nature. I wasn’t incredibly outgoing, but with time I learnt to adapt to new situations. We always had dogs and cows. So I grew up very fond of animals as well.


I liked books. Yes, I drew and I was imaginative, just like many other children. The combination of picture and words together on a page, and the relationship I developed with a book that fascinated me.





Three Halves – Click image to view



What advice do you have for parents and children who feel strongly about a future in illustration but are worried about whether they would be good enough? What steps can they take to keep progressing?


I always feel the key to being a good illustrator is being enthusiastic about reading. Personally, I allowed myself to discover my passion slowly and I have no regrets about that.



When you’re having a dull day is there something you like to draw that instantly cheers you up?


No, I have days when I don’t draw at all. I enjoy a good walk and some time reading and relaxing in silence on a dull day.



Look Again – Click to view


What was the first thing you remember doodling as a child?


Palm trees



What was your experience creating Hambreelmai’s Loom? Did you run into any roadblocks along the way in picturising the spreads?


Hambreelmai’s Loom was my first picture book. I love Mamang Dai’s work. I was incredibly happy to work on something she had written. I had a very clear idea about certain things, like using the Mishmi colour palette across the book, the connection between what Hambreelmai sees around her and the fabric she weaves should be obvious. Once I had that in mind, much of the book fell into place. I had to do a lot of research on Mishmi fabrics and it wasn’t so early to find references and specific motifs, so that took up much of my time.



Hambreelmai’s Loom – Click to view


If you could weave any design or pattern into a fabric, what would it be? Why?


I love our traditional fabrics, so I don’t have a dream pattern project in my life goals.



Announcing the winners of the book giveaway… DRUM ROLL….


Congratulations Lavanya Elangovan, Sangee Dorey & Prema Ramachandran!



To learn more about Kalyani Ganapathy’s work :

Instagram | Website 


The illustrations featured are from the respective Kalyani Ganapathy, Tulika Publishers and StoryWeaver websites

An initiative that started with Tamil Language Month 2019, EliPuli continues to interview children’s book illustrators to find out more about their work and experiences. Why you ask? Because they bring to life the picture books that our little ones love so much! Your child may not be at the age to read words yet, but what draws their attention anyway are the vivid images on the page and these illustrations lay the seed towards passionate readers in the future! EliPuli would like to give thanks to them for the amazing work that they do. Tamil has not enjoyed a very wide range of well-illustrated picture books, so it is important to celebrate the artists who are helping us on our journey as parents and educators to make reading in Tamil fun, enjoyable and mesmerizing!

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