Vaishnavi is a children’s illustrator and a mompreneur. She is the founder of Wildpaper, a venture that creates nature-centric learning products that help children develop their cognitive skills. She talks about her journey as an illustrator, how being a mom gave her her business idea, learnings from the pandemic, and more.
Tell us your story— how did you decide to pursue a career in illustration?
I feel I have always been an artist. It was my passion, so couldn’t think of a career that did not involve art in it! I used to work as a UI/UX designer. Illustration is something I started concentrating on in the last few years while creating my own brand. Since I was already an artist and had a background in communication design, it was an easy transition but there was a lot of learning involved.
What inspired you to start your venture, Wildpaper?
My children of course. Having them made me realize the beautiful world that I wanted them to know, but there was a big gap in the Indian market to teach nature to kids. I remember not being able to find the right products for my children. They were not available in the Indian market or were overpriced. I realised not many people were creating such products in India which was a shocking revelation to me. This is when I created my first card game which became a success. Post this, I worked on a couple of more products. When I realised that there is a need for these products in the market, it made me realise this is something I’d love to work on. That’s how it led to a full-fledged brand.
Growing up, which were your favourite books and authors?
I have always been a fiction reader. So growing up, my reading largely bordered around Dan Brown and John Grisham. But as an artist, I loved the Marvel and DC comics. Before I entered the world of children literature, these comics were my source of art. I’m a huge fan of graphic novels because of their ability to convey powerful stories, which takes you to a whole new world. I started reading these novels for their intricate visuals and storylines. Eventually, as I grew and studied design, it was about understanding how these ideas were interpreted visually.
I think my favourite illustrator/author (non-children) today would be Osamu Tezuka. If I have to pick from the children world literature, they would be Oliver Jeffers and Quentin Blake.
We know your kids are an important part of your creative process. What’s the kind of feedback you usually get from them? Are they harsh critics? :p Any memorable stories you would like to share?
There’s a genuine honesty that comes from them, which I cannot ignore. Children are not conditioned to respond in a specific way. Usually, if I’m trying to draw something and if my son isn’t able to recognise it irrespective of the visual style, then I feel I lost it. If my son, who’s exposed to a vast collection of children’s literature, doesn’t relate to my work, then I feel I’m going wrong somewhere. My children’s ability to connect to my work is usually a benchmark for me since my target audience is children.
What’s the best compliment you’ve received for your work so far and from whom?
There are a few that come to mind., especially from parents (and it wasn’t about their children). I remember parents who wrote to me that their love for nature was revived because of my products. When their kids get curious and ask questions about nature, they feel my books give them a second chance to rediscover this learning experience along with their kids.
If you could illustrate any classic children’s book, which one would it be and why?
I think I would love to illustrate Little Red Riding Hood. I like to interpret things in a different way. Lately, I’ve been working on a series where you see the world through the eyes of wildlife. Little Red Riding Hood had a lot of duality in terms of its story which is something I would love to explore by using a very limited colour palette.
Any tried and tested tips you would like to give to parents of young kids on how they can make their lockdown-life easier?
After a year of lockdown, one thing I’ve learned is to be patient, to slow down. We have so many ways to cope with everything that’s going around us but we can’t expect our children to react in a similar manner. So, this is a reminder for us to be present and listen to our children because it’s the need of the hour.
What’s the one thing you’ve learnt through your entrepreneurial journey that you would like to share with artists aspiring to start their own business?
Be patient. You cannot become recognised for your work overnight. You have to put in a lot of hard work and keep learning. The learning should never stop because it allows you to grow. All good things come in due time. You cannot rush a creation process. So, take your time and pace yourself. Don’t create something out of FOMO (fear of missing out). Although Wildpaper was started in 2018, it’s the compounded learning that I gained over the years that helped me immensely in my journey.
Which are your favourite accounts to follow on Social Media and why?
My favourite accounts to follow on Social Media are artists and authors due to their positive outlook on life. Some of the accounts I follow are: Brain and hear, green humour, Alicia Souza, Gemma Correll, Fowl Language Comics and Awkward Yeti.
Where can people get in touch with you?
Email id: [email protected]