Sunday, December 6, 2020

A Fitting Conclusion - The interview

So this is the most in-depth and extensive interview I have done in my career as an illustrator. I talk about process, pictures, payment, profession, publishers and other related matters. The difference with this interview is that the questions were asked by another illustrator, making them pertinent, relevant and allowing me to open up as I have never done before. This is also a wonderful closure to this blog and to an entire part of my career as an illustrator at the end of this year. Now I can move on to other things with much gratitude for all I’ve been given.

Many thanks Niharika Shenoy, not only for giving me this chance to articulate my thoughts but also for interviewing and showcasing Indian illustrators so nicely on Medium.

Click here to read The Interview

It has been a great 10 years on this blog and a full 13 years of blogging. It is time to close the circle here too as with an entire volume of my life.

Here are the places you can find me and my work -

The writing, travels, sketchbook stuff, opinions, photographs will all be at

Thank you and goodbye.

The Forest

One day when you wake up,
you wil find that you've become a forest.

You've grown roots and found strength in them
that no one thought you had.

You have become stronger and more beautiful,
full of life giving qualities.

You have learned to take all the negativity around you and turn it into oxygen for easy breathing.

A host of wild creatures live inside you and you call them stories.

A variety of beautiful birds nest inside your mind and you call them memories.

You have become an incredible self-sustaining thing of epic proportions.

And you should be so proud of yourself of how far you have come from the seeds of who you used to be.

-------------------------------------------------------- Nikita Gill


#priyasebastian #priyasebastianillustration #priyasebastianillustrator #seagullbooks #isitthesameforyoubook #conflictzone #picturebookartist #picturebook #kashmirbook #illustratorinterview #picturebookillustration #picturebookillustrator

Friday, December 4, 2020

Up in the Hills

 Sometime in December, I went off to spend time with friends in Mussoorie and Landour. I got my very first glimpse of the Himalayas from the plane and I was enthralled. I got acquainted with words phenomenons like "Winterline" and tried to draw new shapes (mountains) in my sketchbook. I also ate loads and loads of pork and had to beg for simple vegetables with my meals. I used a walking stick to walk even a few kilometers because that is a necessity when you live in the mountains.

The spectacular Winterline where hot air gets trapped beneath cold air 
causing this beautiful phenomenon.

Landour Bakehouse (below) with the classics - 
Delicious Chicken Tikka croissants and Rose Cake. 
So good. 

Sketching the Himalayas in Chakkar in Landour

Apart from the desperation to get out and about, this holiday made me remove my Montreal woolens from the recesses of my wardrobe and wear them. I was still very cold however, until my friend simply threw her mother's sheepskin shawl over me and I was instantly warmed. As Henrik Drescher told me, "It is not how much you wear but what you wear!". When it comes to weather, Bangaloreans don't know very much.

Beautiful pageants around fires are something completely new to a Bangalorean's eyes!

Below, gorgeous treasures picked up during treks around the mountains.

When people like Thoreau spoke about walking amidst nature to rewire the mind, I don't think he meant a walk at the local neighbourhood park, not even Lalbagh, although it can be a good substitute if there is nothing else, but what a healing, soul-cleansing experience it is to walk in a proper forest. How blessed and beautiful is Jabarkhet Nature Reserve.

Many thanks Sam and Bussu for this memorable holiday.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

The Trek


This picture has not been taken from a plane. I actually trekked up this height at Makalidurga Betta.
You will have to click on the picture to fully appreciate the magnificent view.

The rest of the pictures are somewhere on my Tumblr.


Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Together / Apart


Sometime ago I was asked not only to illustrate but also to write about the effects of the pandemic on the theme Together/Apart for The Indian Quarterly. This is the result. It also got me my name on the cover of my favourite magazine, which is nice :)

Blogger does weird things when I cut paste from Word, in fact I find it is no longer a pleasure to use Blogger. Much like Wordpress, it is a chore to upload, align, write in the right place etc. If you want bigger, more sumptuous images, you can find them in my Behance account, where you can also read what I've written.

I think I am going to be done with Blogger and blogging very soon.

Monday, October 12, 2020



On this day ~

5 years ago I drew this fish.

6 years ago I experienced Autumn in Montreal.

7 years ago I demolished this tin of cookies at my desk after completing a project.

1 year ago I had a spiritual experience when I walked at dawn through the ancient city of Matera.

And today, what did I do today?

I am happy. I had a satisfying day where a challenge before me was solved smoothly , elegantly, and in a fuss free manner.

That much.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

The Ancient City


Matera, every step of the way, every turn of the head, so much beauty.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020


The evil that persists and persists and persists.

What do we call the horror that stretches across our present age like a canopy, a kind of shadow violence, the sort we are all guilty of: violence of the ignored, utterly avoidable variety. The casual violence of cruelty. The violence of poverty, denial, lack of care, of turning our attention away from slow burning fires that we ought to be duty bound to watch and hold in our eyes. We are not innocents here, but shadow men, looking the other way while havoc is wrought in our silence.

                                                                                       ~ Fathima Bhutto

Thursday, October 1, 2020

That Thing Indians Do

"Agree to disagree is reserved for things like, "I don't like coffee". Not racism, homophobia and sexism. Not human rights, not basic common decency. If I unfriend you during this, it IS personal. We do not have a difference in opinion, we have a difference in morality." 

Yes indeed we Indians tend to bob our heads, especially while listening to monologues by privileged white males dominating the conversation.

Mocking an ethnic accent and mannerisms is always done with the excuse that it is a joke and that we are all one big jolly family who are comfortable with each other and therefore it is a license to be insensitive. 

Just like the more open expressions of racism, recipients of microaggressions are left feeling angry, belittled and  wronged. Because of their ambiguous nature, microaggressions such as being mocked at for the way you speak can result in an added layer of emotions which can cause confusion, leaving the recipient with a lack of clarity about why they are feeling offended. When this is done repeatedly, one feels spat at and diminished. That is the effect microaggressions have. It can erode confidence completely to the point where the recipient feels completely dehumanized and unable to respond effectively at that moment.

Microaggressions perpetuate false and negative stereotypes and put down ethnic groups. Because they are subtle, they are usually excused as unintentional, but it contributes to systemic issues while being damaging to the individual.

"This is what racism does, you see. It constantly stops us, diverts us, interrupts us. It halts us at the borders of countries and of love; it makes us stand in the bathroom mirror and feel ugly, it makes us invisible when we want to be seen and visible when we do not. Racism exhausts us. It taunts us with the safety that’s always out of reach."

"I called my younger sister a few months ago, when I was having my mid-life crisis. I asked her, when does racism stop? When does the age come when you can just relax—where you’ve earned enough or achieved enough or become respected enough so that you’re free of it? “It never ends, Musa,” she said. “It never does.”


There is a compulsion from the entitled to ask Indian women this condescending question, "How do you live as a woman in India?" (Usually followed by "What do Indian women wear?", and the eternal, "How do you speak such good English?"). Is how I live my life supposed to be the answer for all Indian women in such a vast and diverse country? If this question is from someone who has already visited India, I wonder what they chose to see and absorb when they visited. But the fact of the matter about such questioning is this - I am not a creature that has emerged out of a zoo or a jungle. Consider Google for your information and read up before you meet me so that your questions have more layer and depth, thereby making the conversation more interesting. Nobody wants to sit in a restaurant in Italy and talk about Rape while eating Tiramisu. There are more appropriate environments where issues pertaining to Indian women can be discussed with the seriousness it deserves.


Monday, September 28, 2020


 Click on the pictures for bigger images -

Thursday, September 17, 2020

The Glimpse


The people of Matera are white, all of them, even the tourists are white, there were no Asians, South East Asians, Blacks or Latinos; in this city of all white people I was the lone exception. I was looked at with curiosity each time I entered a shop  and then after a pause and an overcoming of diffidence, I was asked where I was from.
Then one day suddenly out of the blue, I saw this young lone Black woman walking along one of the streets with a lilt in her step. She had none of the tourist accouterments and she seemed very much at home. Her appearance against the pale, bleached walls of Matera was striking. And then I saw her yet again from the balcony, walking somewhere. I wonder who she is and what her story is.

#matera #materasketchbook #italy

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Owning my Path

And if I

Asked you

To name

All of the

Things that you love,

How long

Would it

Take to



                         ~ via TS

Sometimes you make a long journey for a specific reason only to find that your curiosity was leading you towards a mirage.

The wonderful thing is that you can always take the return flight home; you can always turn the steering wheel back, to your own road.


One of the most striking properties of survival-machine behaviour is its apparent purposiveness. By this I do not just mean that it seems to be well calculated to help the animal's genes to survive, although of course it is. I am talking about a closer analogy to human purposeful behaviour. These may include 'desire' for some object, a 'mental picture' of the desired object, an 'aim' or 'end in view'. Each one of us knows, from the evidence of our own introspection that, at least in one modern survival machine this purposiveness has evolved the property we call 'consciousness'.


The fundamental principle involved is called negative feedback, of which there are various different forms. In general what happens is this. The 'purpose machine', the machine or thing that behaves as if it had a conscious purpose, is equipped with some kind of measuring device which measures the discrepancy between the current state of things, and the 'desired' state. It is built in such a way that the larger this discrepancy is, the harder the machine works. In this way the machine will automatically tend to reduce the discrepancy - this is why it is called negative feedback - and it may actually come to rest if the 'desired' state is reached.

~ Richard Dawkins THE SELFISH GENE


Monday, August 17, 2020



One of the many things I've learned during this pandemic is how to make an InDesign cover.

The illustration I've used is one from my book of course, but I thought it would work very well for what I am reading at the moment - My Body and Other Stories. I had read the first story called The Husband Stitch in Granta before I bought the book and it was intense. A key element in that story is the green ribbon. Rather than drawing the green ribbon and incorporating it into the illustration, I've chosen instead to use the element  in the design by using a cursive font and the colour green. I was told that people buy a book, sometimes even a second time only for the cover. Would you pick up this book and buy it if it had this cover?

 The other thing I learnt to do in InDesign is to draw this egg below for an unpublished book with an imaginary title. It was one of the first things I did and I enjoyed making it.


The InDesign classes conducted by @sukrutianah are during weekends on Zoom. Each class is one saturated hour. I realized much to my bemusement that the screens of my fellow classmates suddenly going blank is absolutely normal and they are still listening. I once made a comment about the Harry Potter movie being better than the book and the blank screen of one of my classmates expressed outrage.  We are from Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Bangalore respectively and the experience is  great. Thanks to this course I actually opened InDesign on my computer and started using it.