Kathir Arumugam: A school dropout, who’s now an artist!

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‘Do not judge a book by its cover.’

Ironically for the saying though, people do judge a book by its cover. But most often, textbook covers promise exactly what they contain. By the design of the cover page, the dull colour and the weird font, students find the textbooks boring even before opening them!

The 33-year-old Kathir Arumugam has been hired by the Tamil Nadu State Board to redesign textbook covers and make them interesting enough for children to judge books by their covers!

Hailing from Arachalur, a small village near Erode, Kathir shares that it was his love for typography that helped him steer himself in the right direction. From his early childhood he was more inclined towards the creative side. It isn’t that he decided to quit school consciously or that he wanted to quit. It was more because he couldn’t fit himself in the school no matter how hard he tried!

After leaving school education mid-way, he realised his interest in art. “After having dropped out from school, I worked with a design company in Erode as a tea boy. With the money I save up, I did my graphics course and later joined Uyirmmai ten years ago,” he says.

It was around that time, he met ‘Cuckoo’ Siva Raj. Raj is an avid reader and seeing Kathir’s interest in art, he gave him a book written by Vincent Van Gogh. At first he didn’t find any interest to read a book with so many pages. But many days later, surprisingly he finished the book as Raj helped him develop a reading habit.

After a long wait, he finally got a job at ‘Uyirmmai publications’ for cover designing. And from here his designing career took off. “I have been working as a layout artist for magazines like Uyirmmai, Penne Nee, Devathai, Kungumam magazine and Namthozi. Apart from this, I have also been designing creative logos, developing Tamil typography and have also designed covers for popular Tamil authors like Bala Kumaran, Jeyamohan, Sujatha and S Ramakrishnan.” says Kathir.

T Udhayachandran from Tamil Nadu Text Book Corporation assigned him to redesign Tamil Nadu State Board textbook covers. For somebody who couldn’t complete school education and then going on to design the textbook covers for Tamil Nadu state board is totally a dream come true.

Kathir, who now works as a freelance artist, wishes and plans to open his own design studio very soon. He also hopes to design movie posters in future.