Nina Chakrabarti


Hastings, UK

I was born in India and moved to the United Kingdom in my teens. I ended up going to art school by accident, where I had the best time, made friends for life and met my husband-to-be. I lived in London for 30 years and then moved to a place where I can breathe the sea air. I have written and illustrated several books for children on topics such as fashion, nature and collecting. I love cooking, dancing and walking in the woods near my house early in the morning. Also — mad
about mushrooms.

“I’m super tidy until ...”

Where do you work? What’s your workspace like? Any objects you’ve had a long time?

I turned a room in my house into a studio space. I painted the walls a vivid green and put up a cork wall  — a place to pin inspiration and ideas. I have accumulated quite a few books over the years that I find very useful in my work. I am surrounded by them. I would say I am super tidy until I’m in the middle of a project — then the tidiness goes out the window and the book piles get higher and higher.

Where do your best ideas come from? (dreams, shower, museum, train?)

I am interested in unusual and beautiful objects, and I love wandering around museums, the smaller and stranger the better. One of my favorites is the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford. It is packed with obscure and weird artifacts.

What was your favorite thing to draw as a child? Why did that lodge in your head?

I loved doodling, endless spirals and patterns within other patterns. I would doodle on notepads, school desks and the walls at home, much to my mum’s annoyance.

Listen to music while you work? Anything special in your work space that unleashes your creative juices.

I like playing this Ravi Shankar/Philip Glass album called Passages. It has a very particular quality that help the juices flow. I am partial to a good podcast, too.

How do you celebrate the completion of a big project?

By cooking a lavish meal that I invite my friends to.