A peek inside illustrator Gaurab Thakali's compelling mind

14 March 2018

When we last spoke to Nepalese illustrator Gaurab Thakali he was working with a number of publications – like Protein Journal and Mosaic Science – and had just finished a book about life in post-earthquake Nepal. Since then, the London-based illustrator has completed a huge number of impressive projects, from illustrating The New Yorker articles to designing Carhartt t-shirts.

Gaurab’s predilection for vibrant jazz scenes and underground music events still permeates a lot of his drawings. A particular highlight from his latest work is a visually compelling drawing of jazz legend John Coltrane playing the saxophone among mountains tops. Gaurab’s strength is his ability to elevate his subjects through considered composition and vibrant colours. His illustrations exude a warm splendour as a result of his consistent use of orange and purple hues. This regular colour palette also lends his portfolio a cohesion despite the broad range of commissions and personal projects Gaurab has completed.

We asked the artist to talk us through some of his favourite projects from the past year.


Gaurab Thakali for Brownswood Recording

Brownswood Recording:

This project was based on the current London jazz scene that has been bubbling for a few years now. It’s a compilation album featuring young musicians. As I’ve got a history with working on many music-related visuals, it felt right to get involved once the opportunity arrived. It was a big project and I had to create artwork for many aspects of it including vinyl, collab t-shirts with Carhartt, and other promotional materials. A bonus about working on this was a few of my friends were on the album too.


Gaurab Thakali for Nicholas Daley

Nicholas Daley:

I met Nick last year at Church of Sound; an event I also did the artwork for, which Nick was really interested in. He’s a menswear designer who plays with the various cultural diaspora in the UK as a concept. Towards the end of last year he asked me to create an artwork for his AW18 collection show Red Clay. The presentation took the form of a live performance with London musicians and poets such as James Massiah and Yussef Dayes. The final artwork featured all the artists performing on the day in front of the atmospheric church venue’s architecture.


Gaurab Thakali for Black Panther article in Bloomberg Business Week


Since last year I’ve had the chance to work with some of the world’s most recognised magazines, like The New Yorker and Bloomberg Businessweek. I recently illustrated the Black Panther article in the Bloomberg. Black Panther was first featured in Marvel comics in 1966 and, in the current political climate, it was an important statement to release a movie about a black superhero. I’m really grateful I got to complete such a powerful image for the magazine.


Gaurab Thakali for South Street

South Street:

South Street is a new series of curated music events taking place in South London in various interesting venues. They have been set up off the back of a very successful series of gigs that took place at Dulwich Picture Gallery in the summer. I was asked to design the logo and the poster for South Street’s first ever gig, which took place in The Brunel Museum; an unusual underground space in Rotherhithe. The concept behind the poster was to incorporate the structure of the place into the image alongside the style of the music.


John Coltrane by Gaurab Thakali

Personal work:

I’m constantly working on my own silkscreen prints, developing new ideas and stylistic approaches. Two of my recent prints are of John Coltrane and Bill Evans. Coltrane is a saxophonist whose music is a bit out there yet beautiful, with stretching chord progressions and harmonies. It felt right to create a visual that had a similar energy to his music. Bill Evans, however, is a very elegant pianist, who developed his sound methodically by learning from classical composers like Debussy and Bach. The mood, lighting and his concentrated figure express his musical flair.

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About the Author

Daphne Milner

Daphne has worked for us for a few years now as a freelance writer. She covers everything from photography and graphic design to the ways in which artists are using AI.

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