Illustration Inspiration: Manka Kasha, Creator of Small Knight and The Anxiety Monster

An Illustration Inspiration interview with Manka Kasha
The Children’s Book Review

Maria Biktimirova aka Manka Kasha is a University teacher born and raised in Russia. She has a postgrad degree in English Language and Literature and is reluctantly trying to work on her Ph.D. in her free-from-drawing time. When she is not teaching her students (who are absolutely the best), or drawing, she prefers to read, listen to cast recordings of some musicals, or binge-watch TV shows. Small Knight and the Anxiety Monster is her debut picture book.

I make art because …

It is my way to process my feelings, communicate with the world, and express myself in the most honest and authentic way. Also, my drawings make people smile, I heard, which is the best! 😊

Art medium used …

Watercolor and ink.

Artistic process …

Pretty chaotic, to be honest. It all definitely starts with an idea. I need to live with it for a while, let it get more and more detailed and full-fledged, and then it depends—it can be two short steps from rough sketch to the finished illustration (or no sketch at all if I’m feeling bold), or it can take several scrapped attempts to finally get there.

I am inspired by …

Everything! Books, music, people around me, views, and smells.  Small things too—like an especially crinkly leaf, funny mug, or someone’s colorful hat, spotted in the crowd.

My favorite place to create & illustrate is …

The comfiest place is probably my working desk—all my art supplies are in close proximity and I always can go to the kitchen to refill my huge tea mug. But generally, if I have my sketchbook and a couple of tools, I’m good anywhere!

My most used art supply or tool is …

Probably my trusty liner, or a set of watercolors from Nevskaya Palitra.

Illustrator idols …

I’ve always been inspired by E.H Shepard and Antoine de Saint-Exupéry in terms of simplicity/expressiveness harmony. I also adore Chris Riddell and Jim Kay’s work.

All-time favorite children’s book I didn’t illustrate…

The Wind in the Willows, probably. Also more like a book for all ages—but Howl’s Moving Castle.

A literary character to create art with …

Grantaire from Les Misérables for sure! My all-time comfort character and contextually—a fellow artist. 😊

Currently working on …

An absolutely lovely book by Jacinta Farragher—Joy’s Journey. Can’t wait to share this one with the world. All in all, there’s quite a lot going on – and hopefully, there might be something in store for Small Knight too!

To learn more, visit Manka Kasha here:

Small Knight and the Anxiety Monster

Written and Illustrated by Manka Kasha

Ages 3+ | 40 Pages

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends | ISBN-13: 9781250618795

Publisher’s Synopsis: An adorable, heartfelt picture book debut from Manka Kasha, Small Knight and the Anxiety Monster follows the magical quest of a knight finding the courage to confront an ever growing monster.

The worry kept growing day by day, until… one morning Small Knight woke up to see a huge inky monster in their room.

When Small Knight feels pressure from their parents to be a perfect princess, an anxiety monster shows up. No one else can see the monster, so Small Knight and their best friend Tiny Bear, decide that it is up to them to save themselves. They set off on a magical quest, only to discover that the answer was inside themselves all along. Turning to face the Anxiety Monster, they learn how to keep it under control.

Personal and whimsical, Manka Kasha’s debut picture book is a beautiful story about understanding your anxiety and finding the courage to face it.

Buy the Book

Discover more illustration inspiration and books like Small Knight and the Anxiety Monster, created by Manka Kasha, on The Children’s Book Review by following along with our Illustration Inspiration series and articles tagged with Anxiety, Books About Knights, Picture Book, and Transgender Books.

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September 22, 2021 at 12:33PM Bianca Schulze