Page 12 - AdNews April 2020
P. 12

 Creative sides
“A lot of my work comes from very personal spaces,” says TinTin. “For example, Ollie and the Wind is about a young kid who’s lonely and so uses his imagination to play. That was me for a few years, when I was growing up in Delhi.”
His second book, No Place Like Home, features a polar bear who’s grumpy because he doesn’t know where home is. He isn’t sure what home looks like, but he’ll know it when he finds it.
“I’ve moved around a lot, lived in different countries, and never felt truly happy wherever I was until I came to Sydney ... the first place that’s felt truly home for me.”
This “prolific new talent” quickly caught the eye of international best-selling Australian children’s author Mem Fox, who reached out to TinTin to collaborate on the 2017 book, I’m Australian Too, a celebra- tion of our multicultural heritage, featuring families from countries as diverse as Italy, Greece, Lebanon, Syria, Vietnam and Somalia.
“I was on holiday, driving to Queensland, and got a call from my agent, saying, ‘Hey, do you want to do a book with Mem Fox? They really like your work and feel you can bring the right emotion to the words.’
Heavy metal music puts me in the zone. TinTin Ghosh
“Obviously I said yes but my mind was saying, ‘How is that? Is this even possible?’ Mem was amazing to work with. Generally [people col- laborating on books] are not supposed to talk to each other too much because we’d never get anything done. But Mem and I were in regular contact. We’d just run away in our own world.”
Collaborations with other authors soon followed.
His illustrations for Dear Grandpa — about the special relationship between a boy and his grandfather — with author Kate Simpson is a finalist for Picture Book of the Year 2020 in the CBCA Awards.
Closer to “home”, he collaborates with whiteGREY colleague Jol Temple, another popular children’s author who writes with his wife, Kate Temple.
“A few years back, Tintin was working with a mutual friend at another agency who introduced us over a meal of kung pao chicken, and sug- gested we should work together on a book,” recalls Temple, whiteGREY senior copywriter.
“Kate and I had just finished the text for Are You My Bottom? [about a panda on a quest to find his bottom, which disappeared while asleep] and were on the lookout for a fresh style that could land extreme kawaii-cute- ness yet still be a bridge back to classic storybooks. It was a fortuitous lunch.
“During the next few months, we workshopped ideas. TinTin was really collaborative and wouldn’t hesitate to call with any thoughts.
“He’s the embodiment of intelligence at play, merging a serious, design- led approach with a playful, comedic sensibility. He does this with an unmatched enthusiasm — both in advertising and in publishing. I also love that he does all these cute illustrations while listening to death metal.
“At WhiteGREY, I’ve been lucky enough to work closely with TinTin across Volvo and Panadol accounts. He never fails to champion a great idea, and has such a disarming approach with clients that he sells ideas that would fall f lat if presented by others.”
In all, TinTin has been involved with eight books to date, two due for publication this year: Bin Chicken, about an ibis, is a new collaboration with the Temples. The other is based on a true story about an Indian family who move to London with the lion cub given to them by a maharajah.
His two careers have occasionally collided, but in the most beneficial ways.
Book illustration, for instance, has been a byproduct of “doodling” in his day job.
“I’ve always been an illustrator, of sorts. I’ve loved drawing since I was a kid, and in advertising I develop my ideas through rough sketches. I always have these little squares on the go that I’m filling up with ideas for campaigns. It’s helped me create my style for the books: naïf, simple, textural.”
The careers also cross-pollinate: “I came up with a TV script once, which never made it in front of the client, but it ended up as my book, No Place Like Home. Then an idea for a book I had that never got published was nearly made as an app for a client.”
However, TinTin’s creative career almost ended before it started, while studying at the Delhi College of Art.
“I just felt my professors weren’t in tune with advertising or design,” he says. “They had a very old school way of thinking. I was always at the bottom of my class and would get comments written on my work which, let’s just say, I didn’t agree with. So I was like, you know what, screw this, I’m gone.
“Although I dropped out of university, I had a career advantage from the start — my whole family is in advertising. My father started a very famous agency in India, and then Indonesia. My brother works in adver- tising. His wife is in advertising.”
TinTin might not have left with a degree, but he gained something more profound — a life partner, his former fellow student and now-wife, Niharika Hukku, a celebrated ceramic artist.
“My wife is an amazing talent and she has had a lot of influence on my work,” he says. “Niharika actually used to work in advertising as an illustrator, but then she got really fed up.”
So what about that other thing, the day job? TinTin describes his work at whiteGREY with passion. “Very rarely do you get a chance

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