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Interview With Astound’s Kamala Nair- Illustrator of Naomi Osaka’s New Book

Published on 09/12/2022

To celebrate the release of the Astounding new title “The Way Champs Play“, Astound US Inc chatted with their illustrator Kamala Nair about the experience. “The Way Champs Play” is the debut picture book of tennis pro, Naomi Osaka, published by HarperCollins.

Kamala Nair, Illustrator

What did you find most enjoyable and rewarding about illustrating “The Way Champs Play”?

“The prospect of working with Naomi Osaka and the HarperCollins team was exhilarating. Moreover, Erica De Chavez’s art direction has always sparked my admiration, and a collaboration with her was something I looked forward to. Hence, there was no scope for apprehension about being a part of this massive project. Character development was the most rewarding process for me. The journey that involved studying different sports and creating inclusive characters was essential.”

What was your favorite page to illustrate, and why?

“My favorite page is usually the first one I work on. It determines the tone for the rest of the journey. I can get lost working on this spread for hours, checking every stroke, color, texture, and lighting. It is a very meditative process.”

How was it working with the team at HarperCollins and all those involved in bringing this title to life?

“Working with Erica, Launa Horry, and the HarperCollins team has been a joyous endeavor. Whenever I felt that a particular option was the best possible output, they always turned the tide by brewing fresh ideas to make it even better. Moreover, they are organized and understanding, which ensured that our work and communication were compatible and amicable.”

What did you find most challenging about the project?

“The challenging part was maintaining the consistency of the six main characters throughout the book. I invest a considerable amount of time exploring the characters in the book. I explore various alternative possibilities by sketching the characters in different poses and scenarios. This is an exercise I indulge in to avoid discomfort while sketching them in any pose as the story demands.”

Any takeaways that you’d like to share with budding illustrators or those with dreams of illustrating a children’s picture book?

“A sketchbook or journal would be an excellent tool for budding illustrators. Often, when my hands are full, I have noticed that I tend to lose the sense of what I intend to do. During such times, visual journaling helps a great deal in redirecting my focus.”

Thank you Kamala for sharing these wonderful insights into “The Way Champs Play”. Grab your copy of this beautiful book here.

The ITSme Society is a collective of top creative agencies that represent award-winning talent worldwide. The ITSme Society agencies represent illustrators and writers across 7 agencies: Advocate Art, Astound US Inc, Illo Agency, Artistique, Yeon, CWLA, and Collaborate.

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