Nina Chakrabarti

London illustrator Nina Chakrabarti gave a public interview on 11 December 2009 in Amsterdam. Chakrabarti is a professional who works at the boundary of amateurism. Premsela invited her to answer the audience’s questions about the passion, inventiveness and special qualities of amateurs at the American Book Center’s ABC Treehouse.

Born in Calcutta, India, Chakrabarti moved to London as a teenager and subsequently trained there as an illustrator at Central Saint Martins and the Royal College of Art. Her work is characterised by its effervescent compositions of objects and symbols. She draws with Rotring pens, coloured pencils, ballpoint pens, pen and ink, and Apple Mac software.

Chakrabarti’s use of everyday materials and apparently unrestrained method give her work a somewhat amateurish appearance. But her clients include big names such as Marks & Spencer, Vogue and The New York Times. In her book My Wonderful World of Fashion, Chakrabarti directly champions amateurism, encouraging young women to design their own clothes and accessories.

"My book on fashion is just an enthusiastic response [to fashion]," she says. "I'm just a fan; I'm not an expert. This is just a personal take on it... I'm just an enthustiastic illustrator. I'm doing the stuff that I like."

My Wonderful World of Fashion proved such a hit that Bis Publishers decided to publish a Dutch edition, set to appear at the end of September. Het Parool said, "My Wonderful World of Fashion is irresistible. Open it and be dazzled by its countless illustrations of shoes and bags, easy sewing patterns, tips, and half-drawings that invite the reader to finish them."

Masters of Amateurism
Premsela is holding a series of presentations in 2010 on the common ground in amateurism, popular culture and design in collaboration with the American Book Center. In Masters of Amateurism, Premsela invites international authors and designers to talk about their work in the context of an aspect of amateurism such as DIY, hacking, Web 2.0, bricolage or street fashion.
Chakrabarti at the Treehouse
View the slideshow

My Wonderful World of Fashion
See drawings from the book

Chakrabarti video
The artist presents her work
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