Bandana Tulachan : The Illustrator

November 8, 2014 , by Samridhi Goyal, 1 Comment
Bandana Tulachan : The Illustrator » My Dreams Mag
There are many different graphically illustrated novels available throughout. The illustrated version of The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho is bright, colorful and vivid. It has complex ideas presented with the help of simple forms and images which is easier for a layman to understand. Dwelling into our own back yard we will meet one of the most promising rising artists in illustration and cartooning -- Bandana Tulachan. All her comics take inspiration from the folk tales and fables that children grew up with. They have beautiful sketches to accompany them in subtle colors and shades. And the smooth refined lines take it to another dimension altogether. Having worked at Sattya Media Inc and Idea Innovation factory before, she has dabbled in various mediums such as street art, stickers, water colors and more. She has also collaborated with Libby Hathorn and Room to Read. Dreams talks to her to find out more.

What was the environment you grew up in? Do you think it has any influence in what you create as an artist or illustrator?
I loved drawing and created art pieces. I grew up drawing, painting, building things, collecting junk and basically, making a lot of mess and watching a lot of cartoons. And the best part is my parents loved what I did (apart from the messy ones). They’d patch my drawings on the wall, allow me to draw anywhere in the house and demonstrate my scribbles and doodles to guests. There support has been the driving force in whatever I have done until now. They instilled in me to appreciate simple things in life and appreciate as well as respect art and design. This sense of freedom and optimism has always stayed with me reflecting in my illustrations.
All of us hear of the times when the artistic and literary scene was much richer. What can be done to regain the lost glory?
Art scene in Nepal is evolving constantly. I think we are at a very interesting time right now and a lot of things are happening. It may seem very hard but there is a space for doing something amazing. As long as artists don’t give up on being original and work hard, art scene will always be interesting. I have also noticed that children possess more curiosity towards art than adults. Getting exposed to art and literature from an early age can help general people develop awareness about arts. If this curiosity carries on to their adulthood a whole new audience can be cultivated. It might be different from the contemporary but a special art culture can definitely be established.
You have acquired a formal education in Fine Arts. Do you think your work would have been different had you not studied it formally?
Definitely yes. Studying art has been a life transforming experience. I have matured not only as an artist but as a person as well. Doing my Bachelors in Fine Arts from Kathmandu University, every day I was in the presence of creative people, creating, learning and getting inspired. It was fun, hard, hectic, challenging and accomplishing all at the same time. Its really been a great experience that has taken me closer to what I want to do in life. The formal education has instilled a sense of confidence and strength in me. In the beginning I was interested in all aspects of art but it was only after taking Graphic Arts as an elective that I was sure of my calling. I am pretty certain I would not be working in this field at all, if not for college.
You have done various works ranging from posters to invitation cards, tickets and even stickers. Would you say that the journey to each one has been different and what work has been the most gratifying?
I wouldn’t say the journey was different but rather the same one. I want to do multiple things. Even when I am busy I try to get time for things I am passionate about. By doing this, I feel I am starting to have clear idea about what I want to do in life. Each job, be it designing a poster, a logo or illustrating a book or a magazine has taught me a lot about myself and the field.

Amongst them illustrating for children’s books has been the most gratifying for me. Children’s picture books are delightful. They are simple and complex at the same time. As an illustrator you can have a blast with your imagination. I remember how I loved reading picture books as a child and it makes me happy to imagine that a child could enjoy my illustrations.

What exactly is your creative process when you start developing a comic? Do you tend to veer towards specific themes?
I start with the basic outline of the story. I know what is going to happen and how the story will end. Then I work on developing the character, how they resemble, their clothes and surroundings. Since its easier for me to develop the story as I draw, I work on the details of the story while preparing the story board. This part takes a lot of time.

While storyboarding I play around with compositions, page layout and the general flow of the story. Only after I am satisfied I draw the sketches, ink the lines and I think I really like a sense of supernatural in the stories I do. I find it really fun to draw things and situations that aren’t based on reality. I love drawing monsters, aliens and strange creatures. This is one of the reasons I did my graduation project based on the folk tales of Nepal, as there are many intriguing stories of demons, gods and circumstances. I also like to draw Nepali surroundings and motifs in my works. Bun Dyo the God of Rain and Other Short Stories was my graduation project. It is the only one that I have written as well as illustrated.

Comics are said to be great agents of social change. On the other hand some might want to degrade comics to lower strata of society. What is your take on it?
It’s a shame to judge comics as something trivial. People make the mistake of regarding comic as a genre of gag and easy reading or glorification of superheroes. But comics exist just like the movies, books and music. I think comics are amazing channel of expression for telling stories and showing a different world of literature. It can contain humour, autobiography and some serious subjects like war and death. Comics are now being recognized as important literary works that can cover a variety of subjects. Works like Maus, Palestine may be comics but they are as sophisticated as any book.
Tell us something about your work with Mitrata Foundation and how the association came about?

In 2012, I started illustration of my first children book by Libby Hathorn. Libby had come to Nepal and wrote a beautiful story about a Nepali girl and she wanted a Nepali illustrator to work on the images. I heard of this through my sister who worked at Mitrata Foundation and applied for the job. There weren’t really a lot of contenders though and I got the job. It took me more than a year to complete the book that was mainly because Libby lived in Australia and we had to communicate through emails. It was a also the first tough project for me. I really gained a lot of experience through that book.
How do you the working styles at home and abroad differ?
I think working styles differ according to individuals rather than by nationality but maybe external factors such as the environment you live in and the culture affect how you work.
Where do you think the concept of street art is heading in Nepal?
For me street art is a very interesting concept. The streets are usually laden with advertisements. There is no escape from them. Something selfless like art appearing on the street can be a very beautiful thing. Art can be beautiful, gloomy, informative, provoking, amusing and engaging. It is the right tool for beautifying the lives of people and asking them about a certain issue. Art in public space is created just for the sake of people, with no boundaries for rich and poor, artists or laymen. So it is also the responsibility of the artists to think about what to put out on the streets where so many can be affected by it.

There has been a boom in the street art in Nepal with movements such as Kolor Kathmandu. This initiative has generated a lot of positive response which shows that people are appreciative of street art. This form of art can head in the positive direction provided the artist respects the public space and is mindful of the effects it has on the public.

Is it difficult to work in the art/illustration scene here? What are the challenges that you face and are these specific because you are a woman?
It is difficult to find jobs and projects that are receptive to new styles and experimentation. Sometimes it is difficult to get a a healthy payment considering the quantity or quality of the work. However, I want to develop myself as an artist. Maybe good things will follow later on. You have to struggle whether you are a man or a woman. Since I have an understanding family, my gender hasn’t hindered me much in my work.
What about your work with Room to Read?
I have been working with Room to Read Nepal since 2013. Room to Read believes that, “World change starts with educated children”, so they are working on producing and distributing picture books for children in various developing countries in their native language.
In a country like Nepal, where reading culture is non-existent and there is a lack of reading materials for children in rural places, Room to Read makes books accessible. I feel like this is a cause worth working hard for and Room to Read is quite flexible in terms of creativity and trying out new stuff. I have also attended their workshops which are very well designed. I’m always inspired to create better illustrations for their books.
What are your most notable artistic and literary influences?
I grew up watching the animations by Studio Ghilbi which had a lasting impact on me. Also Moomin comics by Tove Jansson are absolute favorites. I also love Oliver Jeffers picture books. I recently had the chance to pick up one of his books and it was such a delight to see the real thing rather than just on the internet. I can get inspired by anything really: the nature, my surroundings, poetry, songs and of course artwork, designs, illustrations and comics. Being inspired pushes me to find new ways to create illustrations.
What do you see in the future for Nepali comics?
Comic scene is almost non-existent in Nepal. I don’t know think many people are working on comics in Nepal. I think it would be great if people explored this medium of expression. I hope in the future more comic artists will emerge in Nepal.
Can you divulge your future projects and plans?
I feel like I have a long way to go, a lot of pictures to draw and many more books to come up with. My future plans include finding out time to create more original work and challenge myself more. I also plan to publish a comic book anthology based on the Nepali folklore that I developed for my graduation project. Apart from that I aspire to keep growing and creating as an illustrator.
A picture is a silent song, like an untold poem and when you look at Tulachan’s works it actually seems to be fluid poetry. All the stories that she lays hands upon seem to turn into work of unmatched beauty and more like polished silver. Such a bright and vivacious lady, whose talent and grit shines through in her person and her work. The DREAMS wishes her all the best and hopes more comes up from her that could be masterpieces in the Nepalese art fraternity.

Words by Samridhi Goyal.


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Categorised in: Arts, Interviews

One comment on “Bandana Tulachan : The Illustrator

  1. Shreyans Tamang says:

    Nice going Bandana!! btw, its “Sattya Media Arts Collective”, not “Sattya Media Inc” http://www.sattya.org/

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