Raya Rahman and Kashfia Kayes
March 8, 2020
Inshra Sakhawat Russell is a multi-platform storyteller who uses film, photography, illustrations and thoughtful design to create extraordinary worlds.
Inshra S. Russell - Visual Storyteller
In 2017, she wrote and illustrated her first children’s picture book called Tiny Jumps In, featuring a little girl with a big sense of adventure. Tiny, the child protagonist in Inshra’s book, is a dreamer. She’s very curious about the lake next to her house and has been dying to explore it for a while. But there are obstacles she must overcome - practical ones like learning to swim, and psychological ones like the fear of doing something new for the first time. With vibrant hand-drawn illustrations, Inshra takes the reader and listener on an underwater-adventure with Tiny that children of all genders can relate to.
Guba Publishing published Tiny Jumps In in 2017.
Today, on International Women’s Day 2020, we interviewed Inshra about what inspired her to create this empowering character.
Kasfia Kayes (KK): What gave you the idea to create Tiny Jumps In?
Inshra S. Russell (ISR): Tiny Jumps In is a story that came out all in one go, one night. It happened straight after I read David Lynch’s book ‘Catching The Big Fish.’ It’s a book about using transcendental meditation to dig deeper to find more creative ideas. In the book he uses fish as a metaphor for ideas. I started and finished the book all at once and in a big burst of inspiration, created most of the book over night. Of course it was just the starting point, and I went back to it many times and re-did a lot of pages later.
Tiny Jumps In was inspired by the book “Catching the Big Fish” by David Lynch where fish is a metaphor for creative ideas. Illustration by Inshra S. Russell.
KK: Who inspired the character?
ISR: Ever since I can remember, I’ve been drawing this little girl with dark hair, dark skin and big eyes. She would keep appearing in my pictures, though never consciously. Perhaps she is my spirit in child form. Eventually she made her way into the book as the main character. That’s when I realized I needed to give her a name…and Tiny was born.
Inshra and Tiny
KK: What does the concept really want to portray?
ISR: The intention behind Tiny Jumps In is to inspire action. If you’re curious, dig deeper and you’ll find amazing things you don’t expect. It also takes the observant reader through the 3 color stages: primary, secondary and tertiary colors through the beginning, middle and end of the story.
Inspired by color theory to make the book, Inshra encourages kids to experiment with colors at her readings.
KK: Tell us about the artwork inspiration.
ISR: When I was making the book, I just wanted to complete it so I didn’t spend a lot of time on researching styles. I was trying to do it in whatever style I was comfortable with. The artwork turned out to be a combination of pencil drawings, scans of textured paper and rough photoshop work. This was my first picture book and I experimented a lot with layers, both real layers (of tracing paper) and photoshop layers.