About the Illustrator: James Ballance
James is the resident illustrator of the Jai Jais and is currently working in London. A BA graduate from the University of the West of England in illustration with Animation and holding 13 years of industry experience, he has cultivated an impressive portfolio. From a young age, James always had to be doing something creative with his hands, whether it was drawing or making models. Some of his earliest memories are of him laying on the kitchen floor drawing characters from SuperTed, then later filling endless sketch books with robots and monsters. His parents encouraged him by turning an entire wall in his bedroom into a black board - though this might have been more as a means of discouraging him from drawing on the rest of the walls in the house!
After connecting with Sunita through the special needs school where James used to work, he began illustrating for the Jai Jais. His vibrant, colourful and imaginative imagery brings the Jai Jais stories to life and he has illustrated over 20 books, not including the many other products such as puzzles the Jai Jais offer. James plans the imagery he creates for the Jai Jais using pencil and paper with the key elements then drawn with pen. These are both scanned into photoshop where they are composed and coloured. His style and technique vary depending on which series he is working on. For example, The Baby Series characters are comprised of fabrics scanned into his computer, with rounded shapes and muted colours and The Main Series uses bright colours and soft shading compared to The Legends Series which is for older children so the images are more dynamic and gritty.
Figure 1: A snapshot of James’s process in creating the characters in the Jai Jais.
James is an advocate of encouraging diversity within western cultures and is an avid storyteller via his artistic talents, thus creating a perfect synergy with the Jai Jais. Through the development of James’s creations and researching traditional representations of the Gods and Goddesses, he has developed an appreciation and understanding of Hinduism and simultaneously fulfilled a lifelong love of telling stories. To James, illustration is about communicating what the written word is unable to, which he has successfully achieved using his own unique style.
James has developed various styles of illustration from friendly preschool to dark comic books by working on animation, computer games, advertising, magazines and children’s books. His range of skill sets extends to his equally varied use of mediums. He is experienced in using pen and ink, sculpture, animation, photoshop and also creates sculptures of characters from popular culture which he sells, along with his own artwork, at fairs and conventions.
James’s aim has always been to draw for children’s books and he enjoys creating fun and exciting characters that take you to weird and wonderful places.
A sample of his work can be found at the links below.
Instagram: @James_ballance_uk / @Portal_immortal