I'm Paramita Brahmachari.
I am a freelance designer.
I work from my home in Kolkata, India.
I have no formal training in design.
But I come pre-addicted to the good books.
I studied Comparative Literature and Film Studies for my Undergraduate and Postgraduate degrees, both from Jadavpur University.
In 2012, I completed my Doctorate, which was jointly affiliated to the Department of Film Studies at Jadavpur University and the Centre for Social Sciences, Calcutta (CSSSC) as part of an Indian Council for Social Science Research (ICSSR) fellowship, and immediately slid into a freshly introduced four-month course on book design, taught by the fabulous Sunandini Banerjee at the Seagull School of Editing and Publishing.
I wrote film reviews for The Telegraph in Kolkata for nearly seven years while I was in university and after, sometimes, although rarely, also writing on music and visual arts.
I freelanced widely at the time, but it had mostly to do with writing, research and texts. I remember one of the stranger jobs, purely due to its setting, was as copy-editor of books, journals, and essays for the Anthropological Survey of India, back when it used to be housed in a building behind the Indian Museum along with the other Survey offices. There, I would walk past a surreal collection of taxidermied large mammals and birds – giraffe, zebra, possibly an emu, and suchlike – on the ground floor at the Zoological Survey. The Anthropological Survey offices themselves had several long, dark corridors lined with cabinets thickly stacked with variously classified, and oddly tiny skulls, this I somehow found very comforting and grounding.
It wasn’t until August 2016 that I first had a paid assignment for a book cover. Since then, barring a year or two in between, when I could not work because of family emergencies and then the COVID lockdown, I have loved the time I spent working on covers, reading books, noting down motifs, colours, characters, or quirks. I learnt how to draw in the past few years, and love to experiment with pastels, watercolour and printmaking, and often end up using my new skills in the designs. I have also hand-lettered some of the text on my more recent covers.
To date I have designed books with Routledge, Taylor and Francis; Pan Macmillan (including its imprints Pan and Picador); Stree-Samya; Bloomsbury Academic U.S.A.; Aakar Books; Yeruvaka Books; and Jadavpur University Press.
I still very occasionally edit and translate (the latter only from Bangla to English, and only very recently for literary fiction), but designing books is the work I live for.
WHY 'neurotic egg'
It was a very apt name, I thought, both for my website and social media personae, because it was an excellent description for my perpetual state of mind. But equally, it was my secret shorthand for how I work. From the frenetic skitterings that precede an idea coming together in my mind, to the slow incubation into something clearer, something about to hatch on paper, or screen. I have always loved the feeling of this something in potentia, that may or may not come about, and I am always, without exception, surprised by the stealthy pass it makes in my head from panic to production.