Keshav Venkataraghavan, or Keshav, as he is popularly known, is a Chennai based cartoonist and illustrator, who is currently one of the chief cartoonists with The Hindu newspaper. He has more that over 15,000 political cartoons and over 10,000 illustrations to his credit till date, as one of the leading illustrators of the country.
Born in Bangalore and brought up in Hyderabad, the art wiz settled in Chennai. Quizzing him about his childhood memories on sketching and his early career, he said ” I always (kept) drawing… (with) chalk on the floor and (with) pencil on the walls (and with) watercolour on paper. This was my (memories of) childhood. After coming to Chennai in 1978, I finished my graduation and started contributing to Ananda Vikatan. First, it was an experience in direct sketching from live music concerts. Then I was working in a bank and when I got an opportunity to work for The Hindu, I quit the Bank and joined The Hindu as a full-time cartoonist in 1987. The nation’s leading cartoonist also added that he used to participate in art competitions ever since the time he was in school.
On being asked about him joining The Hindu, he told that while contributing to Vikatan, a Tamil magazine, he got an opportunity to participate in the Hindustan Times cartoon contest in the year 1986. He also secured three prizes in various categories of the event and met the major cartoonists who where judges like Ranga, Sudhir Dhar etc, who encouraged and inspired him after which he sent samples to The Hindu. He eventually got selected and joined the organization in June 1987. “The journey was one of learning. I learnt everything from working with The Hindu. I have been under great editors over time and it has been a wealth of learning.” he added.
Questioning the nonpareil artist about his use of technology, “I use digital tools like photoshop to just add colour.” he answered. On a personal level, Mr. Keshav also added that he prefers manual sketching and drawing over digitally designing them. In addition, he told “It is a personal opinion of the viewer. Everyone cannot think in the same way as the artist” on bein being asked about people interpreting his art work in a different way.While being asked for the best and the worst part of being an artist, he replied stating that creativity is a challenge and is fulfilling which helps one to find peace, which is the best part and not getting an idea is the worst part. Finally, quizzing upon his advice to budding artists in the field, the competent artist said “Have patience. Practice. Observe life around you. Respect nature.”
Apart from being a fulltime cartoonist, Mr. Keshav Venkataraghavan also has his art web series called “ #Krishnafortoday ” for a long time now dedicated wholly to Lord Krishna which he posts on his facebook page and his blog. The hotshot artist apparently draws/paints for about three to four hours a day apart from illustrating for The Hindu.