Mahendra Singh

Mahendra Singh – Designer

Pen and ink illustrator, 38 years experience, with a classical/retro style suited to both adult and children's fiction and non-fiction..


I'm a pen and ink illustrator who's been drawing pictures that help tell stories since 1985. I do both book covers and interior illustrations, black-and-white and full-color. My visual style is classical or perhaps retro describes it better. I emphasize cultural and artistic references that help flesh out texts and give extra conceptual "oomph" to the project. One of my books made it onto the NYT-bestseller list (Adventure Time Encyclopaedia) but I've also done covers and interiors for award-winning poetry, SF, humor, fiction, non-fiction, graphic novels and kidlit. Clients include: Firesign Theatre, Abrams, Workman, Feral House, Melville House, Penguin/RandomHouse, Egmont UK (Minecraft), Skyhorse, St Martins, W.W, Norton, Gollancz and many more publishers in the USA, UK, Germany and France.

My working method is simple. Whether it's a cover or a set of interior illustrations, I ask the author for their preliminary ideas/suggestions. If they're unsure (or half-sure) of what they want, I make some initial suggestions and come back to them with 3 rough ideas for each picture. The author then chooses one basic idea (sometimes with elements from the other rough ideas) and I make a tighter pencil. This pencil is reviewed by the client and this is the final and most important round of revisions between artist and author. Once we've settled upon the final, tight pencil drawing, I ink the drawing with a dip pen, old school. If it's a color cover, I finish it in Photoshop, which allows for more flexibility in color choices. At this point the art is finished and ready for the cover or book designer.

This process is all about communication on both sides. Authors make the final decisions based upon my presentation of options that I think will work best for their text, intended audience and the author's own brand. The author communicates what they want the art to say about their work and I communicate what 38 years of experience has taught me about making effective pictures. It sounds a bit pretentious like that but it's really a lot of fun.
Contemporary Fiction Cultural & Ethnic Literary Fiction Middle Grade Picture Books Poetry
  • BA Studio Arts, Mary Washington University

Work experience


Aug, 1985 — Present

I've made pen and ink art for every conceivable sort of newspaper, magazine, book or advertising project. I've drawn cruise missiles, parking lots, lost submariners, Victorian explorers, kids' TV cartoons, video games, Hindu gods, poets with beards and various political rascals. I love what I do and I hope that my enthusiasm and skills will help your project come to life.

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