Hello! My name is Sunila Sen Gupta, I’m a 45 year old biologist turned illustrator and graphic designer in training, based in Switzerland. I am self-taught in illustration and have been working professionally for ten years now.
Astrid Nielsch for Amazing Stories: Why did you want to become a fantasy illustrator?
Sunila Sen Gupta: I think the very first impulse came from album covers and book covers. And as a French speaking kid I grew up reading a lot of graphic novels as well. I tried drawing comics, but I didn’t feel it was something for me. I was lucky that my mum would buy books like “Fairies” by Brian Froud and Alan Lee, as that gave me a first insight into fantasy illustration.
During University, a classmate of mine always brought these art books to class, and I discovered a lot of illustrators that way. Back then, my greatest favourite was Rodney Matthews. I started to make my own illustrations and copy some of my favourites, but I never considered taking it seriously until I turned 35.
Apart from Fantasy, I am also a children books illustrator, and I just finished a project of a book that we sell to raise money for a local youth centre. It’s still going, in case anyone wants to participate!
A couple of years back, I self-published my first art book. It’s been a moderate success financially, but I had some great feedback, which was fantastic. I am starting to think about a second book in the same vein. Searching for archetypes, and illustrating them.
ASM: Why the fascination with dragons?
SSG: Initially it was the movie “The Flight Of Dragons” that triggered this. The sight of a sky full of flying dragons made a big impression on me as a 14 year old. Then I started to read about the symbolism behind dragons, and got hooked. They have a bit of a bad reputation in Europe, but on other continents they can be seen as positive energies.
In general, I am fascinated by mythology and symbolism in a wider sense. I’ve studied local myths a lot, and dream of publishing a book about them one day.
ASM: What about the fascination with rock music?
SSG: I would say it’s linked with the dragon theme, the energy and power of it is similar. That’s why I painted several portraits of my favourite musicians with dragons, to convey this idea of power and intensity. And again there is this element of “bad reputation”, while the energy of the music is mainly very positive.
I also find that art and creation is a wide open field, there isn’t just one genre or one category, I find this limiting. A lot of writers will tell you that music and art inspire them. I’m always very happy when an author tells me my art has inspired them, it’s this cross-pollination that I enjoy.
Same with musicians who are inspired by books they have read, or works of art they saw. One of my favourite musicians, Alice Cooper, was inspired by surrealism in his early career, and this played a major part in my becoming a fan of his.
ASM: Where can people see and buy your work?
All images on this blog are copyright Sunila Sen Gupta, and may not be reproduced without permission.