A Bold Approach

Kanika Nair is the illustrator of the much-loved Farmer Falgu series. Her distinct, sparse illustrations that are bold and vibrant have played a big part is making this series the success that it is. Kanika loves to incorporate various insights about children that she has collected over the years into her illustrations. She works as a freelance illustrator, writer and designer of children’s books. In this blog post, we interview her about her experience illustrating this popular series.

The Farmer Falgu illustrations are extremely unique, sparse and minimal but with striking colours, how did you decide you wanted to use this approach for the Farmer Falgu series?

The colourful Indian cultural canvas has always fascinated me and inspired my designs and illustration style. I enjoy illustrating with strong bold lines and striking colours!


When creating Farmer Falgu, did you use reference images or base him on someone you know?

While reading the script, I felt an interesting connection between the story and my hometown. So I decided to set the story in Rajasthan, a state in northern India that is rich in historical significance and famous for its vibrant colourful culture. Since Rajasthan is the place where I spent most of my childhood, was able to incorporate several of its unique elements into the illustrations. Chitra’s style of storytelling has so many layers in terms of sounds, characters, and landscapes. This gave me a great opportunity to explore my imagination and creativity.

What was your response to Farmer Falgu Goes to the Market being selected for the USBBY Outstanding International Book list?

I am extremely proud that a wide audience at a global scale is enjoying Falgu Series! The books have a lot of unique Indian insights, and I am really proud we are able to represent that internationally.


What is the nicest compliment you have received from a reader of the Farmer Falgu series?

The most memorable compliment came from one of my students in US who said, “Falgu’s turban is so colourful, I want a turban and a bullock cart like him!”

Of the four Farmer Falgu books, which did you find the most challenging to illustrate?

Farmer Falgu Goes Kite Flying was the most challenging and fun to illustrate. I have lots of fond memories from the yearly kite-flying festival in Rajasthan and I was very excited to depict the authenticity of that colourful festival!


What medium do you prefer working with when you draw?

Dark pencils, charcoal pencils, and bold markers are my favourite mediums.


And finally, is there a children’s book illustrator whose work has inspired you?

I am a big fan of Eric Carle’s illustrations! I love his minimalistic, bold and bright illustration style.