2 minutes with… Ashwin Chacko


Event week is finally here, with our first event of the year happening this Saturday. We kick off our 2023 programme with a Family Fun Day of readings, storytelling, drawalongs, book advice, music and more. Author, illustrator and motivational speaker Ashwin Chacko is part of our line-up for the day, so we caught up with him to find out a little more about his creative process, the power of imagery, and what led him to use his creative skills to inspire others.

You are both an author and an illustrator. What comes first with your books, an idea for a story, from which the illustrations emerge, or a newly drawn character, around which you form a story? Or do they tend to emerge in tandem?

It tends to be a bit of both. Sometimes I’ll draw a character and it will spark an idea for a story, other times I’ll write the story and design the world to suit it. Most often I write first. 

The old adage says ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ and visual storytelling is a key part of what you do, from working with schools and community groups to big brands. Can you talk to us about this power contained within imagery, and how you approach this when working with others?

Storytelling is and always has been the core of how we communicate, the right story can evoke emotion and transform a culture, it is truly powerful. Drawing is one of the earliest primal skills we learned. It has the  ability to communicate a story through a visual language. The act of drawing to remember or to tell a tale goes back to our ancestors leaving a mark in the caves they inhabited, the act is very intimate and intuitive.

Our brain uses icons and images intermingled with our emotions to store information. I want you to try this exercise with me. Close your eyes and try to imagine what your face looks like. You will notice that the face you see in your head is an icon of your real face, it tends to be flat with only key details remaining. Our brains are programmed to recognise patterns. This is why when we look at a plug we can see a face, two eyes and a mouth. 

The combination of both stories and drawing creates a huge impact as it reinforces the spoken work with a recognisable icon helping the audience keep their attention, comprehend complex ideas and retain the dual impact of auditory and visual cues. 

When working with others I always try to understand the deeper emotion and feeling they want to communicate and work with them to craft both the words and pictures to work in harmony to leave a lasting impact. 

You bring such boundless energy and positivity into your art, and you are also a motivational speaker, teacher and mentor. How did you first move into this area of connecting your own art with the drive to promote well-being, social positivity, personal growth and empowerment for others?

In 2020 when the world paused I had time to consider; what do I want out of life. This time of self care, led to a time of deep introspection on my identity, work and most importantly my why. The process eventually led me to the answer that my purpose is to bring love, joy and encouragement in everything I do. Then I looked at the skills that God had given me and asked how can I use them to serve the world to bring love, joy and encouragement. My skills plus my purpose allowed me to create my vision and led me to try and be a positive influence in every sphere of my life. In life we face circumstances that are outside our control, all we can control is our attitude and action towards the situation. We can allow the circumstance to shape us or shape the circumstance to our advantage. 


Thank you to Ashwin for his time, and for sharing these thought-provoking and inspiring words. 

Ashwin is part of our line-up for this coming weekend’s Family Fun Day event, along with Alan Nolan, Niall De Búrca, the Book Doctors from Children’s Books Ireland and Music Generation Dublin City. Ashwin will be reading from his book Everybody Feels Fear, a book which playfully reminds children that we all feel afraid sometimes, and that’s ok; what’s important is learning how to talk about, and understand, our fears so that we can push on through! After the reading, we’ll be rolling up our sleeves for a drawalong guided by Ashwin. 


Please note this event has been postponed to Saturday 11th of March.