Illustrator Of The Week: Sailesh Thakrar

Illustration for Oilskins And Oil Paint, part 1 - March 9, 2019 issue

We’ve chosen to feature Sailesh Thakrar as our Illustrator Of The Week, prompted by a very nice email from a reader:

“‘Oilskins and Oil Paint’  – a message to the illustrator Sailesh Thakrar. That was the best ever illustration I have seen for ages in ‘The People’s Friend’. So much lovely intricate descriptive drawings even the wee hedgehog. WOW!!! Thank you.”

We thought you’d like to learn a bit more about the illustrator who earned this wonderful praise . . .

Sailesh, tell us a little about the process you go through to create an illustration like the one for this serial instalment? (Oilskins and Oil Paint, part 1, issue dated March 9, 2019).

My process for starting an illustration hasn’t really changed. It’s just that the pencil, paper and paints have been replaced by digital media.

After I receive a brief, I read through the story, highlighting details of the characters and background references to feature in the picture.

I still like to employ a traditional approach by making thumbnail sketches on paper. Once I’m satisfied with a composition, I gather the material needed. This could be a combination of pictures from my own library, the internet and pictures of friends and family.

This is the fun bit, but you can go overboard. Discipline is required. Once the rough visual has been approved, the colouring can start.

You’ve been illustrating for “The People’s Friend” for several years now. Has your style or method changed in that time?

My style of work hasn’t really changed. I have been able to replicate what I used to achieve with traditional paints and brushes to give the same look digitally. Digital illustration is easier, though, because I can make any required changes almost instantaneously.

Is illustrating a serial more challenging, because you have to maintain continuity over several illustrations?

Although working on a serial is somewhat more challenging, it is extremely enjoyable. In order to maintain continuity, one has to look at the bigger picture, composing at least 3 instalments together.

Do you have a preference between modern and period stories to illustrate? What are the challenges of each?

I enjoy working on both modern and period stories. Creating something different every time can bring its own challenges, but the period stories require more time to research, as the details need to fit the era I’m trying to convey.

Do you do other non-“People’s Friend” illustration work?

Yes, I do work for other clients in publishing and advertising agencies.

What is your one “top tip” for aspiring illustrators?

You should familiarise yourself with illustration trends, but try to develop your own style. And above all, be passionate and enjoy illustrating.

If you found this interesting, why not read Lucy’s piece on Why Illustrations Matter. It’s a subject that’s close to our hearts!

You can find some samples of Sailesh’s other work on his Vimeo page.

Shirley Blair

Fiction Ed Shirley’s been with the “Friend” since 2007 and calls it her dream job because she gets to read fiction all day every day. Hobbies? Well, that would be reading! She also enjoys writing fiction when she has time, long walks, travel, and watching Scandi thrillers on TV.