Posted by: Kathy Temean | January 15, 2022

Illustrator Saturday – Tara Anand

Tara Anand is an illustrator and visual artist from Bombay, India.

She is currently pursuing a BFA in Illustration from the School of Visual Arts in New York. Her work tends to draw from books, history and her surroundings and she enjoys working with female-driven narratives. She has worked primarily on editorial and children’s book projects.

The New Yorker | Google India | Bitch Media | Bloomsbury Publishing UK | Scholastic | Harpers Bazaar India | Vogue India | The Indian Film Festival LA


I start with a very rough black and white outline of the general idea, I don’t really have a lot figured out at this stage in terms of looks.

Then I flesh out the shapes a little better and pick some colours. At this stage for this illustration, I had no idea what I wanted the center to be and thought it would be the focal point of the illustration.

I eventually make the center blank and focus on painting the forms of the books over the lineart. This is digital but I work almost the same as I would in gouache, no layers just painting each form individually. Ii also start playing with adding some fun details to the spines of the books.

The detail on the spine ends up making the books so lush that I decide the center has to be something that’s simple and doesn’t detract from them.

I eventually decide on this starry background with a planet just to light the scene a little.


How long have you been illustrating?

I’ve been drawing and painting since I was very young but I think I only started understanding and working towards “illustration” as an idea around highschool (9th or 10th grade)

What and when was the first piece of art you created for money?

When I was very young my mother was a designer for a medical magazine in India that ran a column about problematic children that they wanted to be illustrated by a child. I remember doing a few “spots” in felt pen and eventually getting a cheque in the mail for 500 Rupees.

What made you move from Bombay, India to the US?

I was always interested in studying art in New York because of the access to a flourishing industry and resources like the museums and galleries. I eventually moved to attend SVA!

What made you decide to pursue your BFA in Illustration from the School of Visual Arts in New York?

Artists whose work I would admire in bookstores and on the internet were teaching there. I loved the idea of learning from people engaged in successful creative careers of their own. I visited SVA the summer before I applied and it was evident to me how much they knew about the discipline and cared about it.

Were you doing freelance art before starting your degree?

I was doing a little bit of freelancing here and there for magazines in India before I moved. I had to take a year off for health reasons in just my second semester at SVA and that was when I really had the opportunity to freelance while I was recovering at home in India.

Do you have any favorite classes?

I’ve taken many classes with Zohar Lazar at SVA and all of them have provided me with invaluable guidance. I just come away from each session really fired up about my work (and other people’s too!).

What made you decide to want to illustrate children’s books?

I’ve always loved books, and they were my first encounter with illustration so I’ve always wanted to illustrate stories.

Does SVA help you find illustrating work while attending school or after you graduate?

In my experience, SVA teachers make themselves available as resources whenever and are the best people to ask for recommendations. SVA itself has a career department that has a job board and the department shows are meant to put your work in front of the right eyeballs so all the moving parts are there really but one does have to learn to make use of them.

What type of art did you do when you first started your career?

I would say I am at the start of my career so what I’m making now!

Do you plan on moving back to India?

I am curious about spending time and working in America after I graduate but eventually I think being near people and places I love is important to me so yes!

You are a very accomplished artist. How did you develop your skills?

Thank you! School has really helped propel my development but I think its just a matter of making a lot of work and trying to develop good taste and a good eye to look at / critique your work with. Putting my work up online also helped to see how things I was doing were being received and allowed for feedback.

When did you become a freelance artist?

I freelanced a little before college, my visa does not allow me to work while I am studying at SVA in the States but when I took time off SVA I worked with a few Indian companies and then when I had to move back for the pandemic, I was able to do so again!

Do you exhibit your art? If so, has it helped you get work?

I have not had the opportunity to exhibit in a substantial way yet

What type of things do you do or have you done to market yourself and your talent?

Maintaining an online presence is the number one thing that has worked for me. However, this isn’t a passive thing, it involves engaging with other artists, art directors, looking for opportunities and reaching out to people who I wanted to work with!

Was Warrior Women, the first picture book you wrote and illustrated?


How did Warrior Women find a home at Tulika Publishers?

In 2016 I did a series of illustrations about Warrior queens in Indian history that made the rounds on the internet and then eventually won an award from the Indian Government. Tulika reached out to me after hearing of the series of illustrations through the press about the award and asked if I would be interested in turning it into a book.

What inspired you to write and Illustrate Warrior Women?

I was at summer school in Chicago and listening to my classmates talk about figures like Joan of Arc and Catherine the Great from their own cultures, largely western and I found I could only contribute a couple of names. When I went home I started doing some research that eventually became the source material for the book.


How did you connect with The Cat Agency and how long have you been represented you?

The summer before my senior year at SVA I was doing a lot of portfolio reviews as I saw them being offered online with Art directors/agents etc. I happened to sign up to one with Chad and he was very interested in my work! We went back and forth for a while and I eventually signed with The CAT Agency towards  the end of last year!

What kind of Illustrating work have you done for Bloomsbury Publishing UK?

A picture book! Coming 2023!

In 2021 you were awarded The Society of Illustrators Zankel Scholar Award. How did you get considered for this award?

SVA nominated me along with a few other students.

Do you still work still work on your portfolio?

Yes! I’m in my last semester of my senior year so working on my portfolio is a big focus right now and hopefully forever.

What do you feel helped develop your style?

I don’t really think I have a style, that’s something I struggle with for sure because I’m interested in so many different ways of working.

Do you have any desire to write and illustrate another picture book?

Yes definitely!

Have you ever tried to illustrate a wordless picture book? 

No but I would be very interested to explore that.

Have you illustrated anything for children’s magazines? 

Not yet.

Do you sell your artwork online?

I sell some work with Kultureshop in India, they ship internationally!

Is working with a self-published author to illustrate their book something you would consider?

It would depend on the manuscript and budget but if the story is something I’m passionate about definitely!

I know you will have many successes in your future, but what do you think is your biggest success so far?

The picture book I have coming up with Bloomsbury! I’m very proud of the work in it.

What is your favorite medium to use?


Has that changed over time?

I used to very much be focused on working with ink and watercolours but my painting style has evolved to be less delicate and more spontaneous and I just love the versatility of gouache.

What type of Graphic Drawing Tablet do you use when illustrating?

Until very recently I used a wacom Intuos tablet but I recently got an ipad and have completely switched over because it mimics the traditional process much better.

Do you try to spend a specific amount of time working on your craft?

I draw every day but I don’t have a specific amount of time attached to the practice.

Do you take pictures or research a project before you start?

Research is very important to me because I think making things look specific gives them more meaning! The research process parallels my painting process but I look at a lot of image references and generally try to read a lot about any subject I’m working with.

Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

Yes for sure!

Do you have any career dreams that you want to fulfill?

I’d like to illustrate for the NYT book review section and have an exhibition one day!

What are you working on now?

I’m currently focused on finishing up my last semester of school.

Do you have any material type tips you can share with us? Example: Paint or paper that you love – the best place to buy – a new product that you’ve tried – A how to tip, etc.

I’ve recommended Turner Acrylic Gouache to so many people because I really think my work benefits from the quality of the paint hugely!

Any words of wisdom for new illustrators?

I would definitely put myself in that category but I think what I’ve benefited from is being consistent with putting my work and myself out there and reaching out to people for questions, resources or even to introduce myself and my work.

Tara, thank you for taking the time to answer the interview questions and showing us your process. Please let me know about your future books and successes so I can share them with everyone.

You can visit Tara using the following links:





Talk tomorrow,



  1. Her illustrations are so good! It’s great that she is pursuing her dream and she has reached great heights! Great interview! ☺️


  2. her illustrations are beautiful


  3. You’re amazing. Will you illustrate all my books?


  4. […] One illustrator’s journey. […]


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