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Meet Cartoonist Shyam Shankar: Find out what inspires this self-taught Artist!

Shyam also conducts workshops for all ages in a bid to encourage the budding talent

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Illustration by Shyam Shankar. Image source: mljohnyml.blogspot.com
  • Shankar moved to Chennai and started working at the age of 15 with a children’s magazine
  • He prefers manual drawing over digital methods of sketching
  • Soon he started illustrating for more than 120 magazines in numerous languages

As a child, you might have undergone several failed attempts at sketching. But have you ever wondered who blows life into the characters you see in a children’s magazine or in a film storyboard? Well, it is the artistic genius of talented cartoonists and illustrators.

Speaking to one such cartoonist, Shyam Shankar, The New Indian Express brought to the surface nuances of this highly-skilled profession.

Cartoonist Shyam Shankar Image Source: The New Indian Express
Cartoonist Shyam Shankar Image Source: The New Indian Express

Shankar, now 38, started off with sketching toons professionally when he was just 15. However, he recalls that even as a child he was quite passionate about drawings.

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He said, “By the time I was 12-year-old, the walls of my room were full of drawings and paintings stuck on them!”

He further said that his grandfather always encouraged his talent.

Shankar moved to Chennai after his class 10 and was immediately employed by a children’s magazine as a cartoonist. His talent soon got the wings it deserved as he started illustrating for more than 120 magazines, including ones in Telugu, Tamil and English.

Debunking a myth that a cartoonist’s job is mere to sketch, Shankar explained that it is not just drawing the character “but an entire situation must be visualised in one’s mind.”

He added, “You will be given the entire script but unless you observe the situations people live in, you cannot commit it to paper. For example, if you are told to draw the main characters —a fishing couple — you cannot draw it unless you have actually been to a fishing community and observed their life. What is expressed in one sentence in the script must be exactly portrayed in the illustration.”

Talking about the dearth of talent in the industry, Shankar pointed out that several budding artists fail to observe and hence are not able to develop their art.

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“My entire life has been like a single racehorse. There are very few peers in my field. I often tell the artists I meet to develop their talent and then I myself will introduce them to major magazines. What’s the use in having talent without competition,” he stated.

Shankar also frequently conducts workshops with Ramakrishnan (a known cartoonist), which are open to all ages and are aimed at nurturing the talent.

He also revealed that all his drawings and painting are manual as he doesn’t prefer digital methods that take away the authenticity and beauty of the artwork.

Shankar concluded by saying, “I don’t believe in visiting cards. My work is my visiting card!”

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  • Aparna Gupta

    He is absolutly right that bieng a cartoonist is not about sketching but also to visualise the whole situation through one sketch.

  • Vrushali Mahajan

    Cartoonists have been one of the USPs of various newspapers. Times of India had R.K Lakshman, DNA has Manjul, etc

Next Story

Once Water-Starved, Chennai’s Cantonment Area Now Boast of 13 Brimful Water Bodies

A senior Indian Defence Estates Service (IDES) officer said that additional storage space for two-crore-litre water was created

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Water, Chennai, Cantonment Area
Water bodies -- 13 in all-- are revived and a water recycling mechanism was put in place. Pixabay

Once water-starved, Chennai’s Cantonment area and military station now boast of 13 brimful water bodies and recycling plants, and also generate their own electricity. Inspired by the innovation, the Ministry of Defence has directed its Estate Wing to implement the development work across all defence establishments.

The ministry has suggested Directorate General, Defence Estates (DGDE), an inter-services organisation of the ministry which directly controls the cantonment administration, to replicate the Chennai Cantonment area development model.

Water bodies — 13 in all– are revived and a water recycling mechanism was put in place at both Cantonment Board St. Thomas Mount cum Pallavaram and Military Station, where there was an acute shortage of water in 2018.

A senior Indian Defence Estates Service (IDES) officer said that additional storage space for two-crore-litre water was created. “Further, because of recycling plant, 2 lakh liters of treated water is used in these areas per day,” the officer said.

Water, Chennai, Cantonment Area
The ministry has suggested Directorate General, Defence Estates (DGDE), an inter-services organisation of the ministry which directly controls the cantonment administration. Pixabay

The board also created a waste management system where door-to-door collection of garbage is being carried out and then segregated into bio degradable and non-biodegradable. It is then treated in a bio-compost pit. Thereafter, biodegradable waste is put in centralised processing wind row system and then manure is created and made available for sale.

The board revived a green zone with around 2,000 plantations, set up solar power plants and a sewage treatment plant.

The solar power infrastructure set up in a year had generated electricity worth Rs 1 crore which is distributed within the cantonment areas.

Interestingly, the board has created a separate dumping zone for plastic bags. The board came up with an innovative idea of retrieval of ration milk and meat poly packets from consumers. It formalised collection and disposal, prevented littering and reaped financial benefits.

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A senior Indian Army officer said the innovative idea was of Lieutenant General S.T. Upasani, who was the General Officer Commanding (GOC) of Dakshin Bharat Area. Lt Gen Upasani recently took charge as Director General of Information System, the crucial post in Indian Army which was lying vacant for the last two months.

Further, the board carried out campaign to revive green zone and planted 2,022 trees with 98 per cent survivability.

This development model is set to be replicated at 61 cantonments areas across the country that had been notified under the Cantonments Act, 1924, which was succeeded by the Cantonments Act, 2006. There are 62 cantonment areas. The overall municipal administration is managed by the cantonment boards, which are democratic bodies.

The ex officio president of the board is the station commander and the Chief Executive Officer, who is also the Member-Secretary of the Board, is an officer of the IDES or Directorate General, Defence Estates (DGDE). (IANS)