Debasmita Dasgupta started an arts project dedicated to fathers by the name ‘My Father’s Illustrations’ and it has been inspiring fathers and daughters ever since. Here’s an interview with the amazing talent behind the page.
1) What is ‘My Father Illustrations’ all about?
“My Father illustrations” is an arts-project dedicated to fathers who fearlessly fight for the rights of their daughters. It is a collection of illustrated inspiring father-daughter stories from all over the world. Currently, the initiative has more than 5,000 followers on Facebook.
Fathers and daughters are equal owners of “My Father illustrations”. This series is not just about how fathers stand for their daughters but also about how the daughters imagine their fathers to be or draw inspiration from them.
As an artist and founder of “My Father illustrations”, I am always in search of stories of fathers and daughters that can move the world. Some I find and some find me. Whenever I stumble upon a good story or get one in my inbox, I illustrate and publish it on my social media platforms.
Since this August I have also initiated a new chapter called “Doodle with Dad” through which I partner with individuals and non-profits to organize community-based story camps with fathers and daughters. During these camps we not only share our stories but also doodle together. The first two “Doodle with Dad” drives were organised with Magic Bus India and Leher in Mumbai.
2) How did you get the inspiration to start this project? How has it been coming along so far?
It all started with a TED Talk by an Afghani woman, Shabana Basij. She shared how her father helped her to continue with her studies against all odds during the Taliban regime. She quoted her father, “we will let nothing stop your education, even if we have to sell our blood for it.”
I was completely bowled over by Shabana’s story. It reminded me of my own father’s ironclad adherence to his ideals. I thought there must be many other fathers, in different corners of the world, who fearlessly stand for the rights of their daughters. Why aren’t enough people talking about these stories? There should be a way to showcase and share such untold stories because every positive story can create another.
Then the question was what can I do? Fortunately, I didn’t have to look any further than my work desk. My answer, in the form of the red sketchbook and pencil, was right in front of me, shining in all glory and truth. My illustrations. The idea came like a bolt of lightning but it changed me forever. Within a week, I started the ‘My Father’s illustrations’ series.
I would encourage all your readers to join the project and share any inspiring father-daughter story they know.
3) From the name and the concept behind this page, we believe your father must be playing a huge motivational role in your life. Please elaborate about the same?
My father is my ideal. He is a self-made man of strong principles. He is strong where many men are soft and soft where many are strong. We talk like friends even though we argue over many things. I inherited my passion for art from him. He is a stage actor and a person who is driven by the spirit of collective development. He always wants me to find my truth before following.
4) At what age did you start creating artworks and what was your first inspiration?
Drawing started as a hobby as soon as I learnt to hold a pencil and pen. I was (still am) an avid reader of comic books. My mind would soak up all the details in their illustrations. As I grew up, I turned this love into a passion, illustrating for myself and for close friends. During my college years, I came across many artists, painters whose work influenced me a lot. And even though, I studied science as a major, I never seized to illustrate. I could doodle tirelessly for hours. It was only in 2008 that I decided to turn this passion into a profession when I got a chance to publish my first children’s picture book, ‘The Friday Fair’ with KATHA. There was no turning back afterwards. I had taken the plunge into an ocean where every wave is a new inspiration. And the discoveries are endless.
5) Your illustration style is unique. Is there any inspiration to your style?
Most of my illustrations are hand-drawn and digitally coloured. They always focus on positive relationships. Relationships are as abundant as nature. They can be human to human or human to nature or human to animal or animal to animal. I have explored them all in my illustrations such as, a young girl making a lifelong friendship with a Gulmohar tree, or two giraffes enjoying an evening together. All my characters love to smile, their eyes are very expressive and they are soaked in uninhibited colours. My friends often tell me that my characters look like me
There are so many illustrators/painters who have inspired me. I cannot name them all but I have to share names of a few including Jamini Roy, Mario Miranda, Danny Gregory and Koosje Koene.
6) Do you have a page or link where people can view your designs and products?
7) Do you believe artworks have the power to inspire?
Absolutely! Art is the other name of nature. It is all around you. It is inside you. Give it a chance. Observe it, feel it, love it. And you will have enough inspirations to inspire others.
8) I see that most your artworks are based on a concept. Which is your favorite artwork and why?
This is a tough question! It is very difficult to choose one. But here is one, which is very close to my heart. I have started illustrating a series on “epic women from India”. Inspired by some of the fascinating female characters from the Mahabharata and Ramayana, I have started this series. So far I have managed to illustrate only one but I have some artwork in the pipeline.
9) What would be your advice to young illustrators and design aspirants?
Just create and share! Do not think whether your art is good or bad, whether people will like them or not. If you love to create, someone will appreciate your love.
10) Art to you is…
Art is like meditation to me. When I concentrate on the lines and colours, I am at peace with myself.