Translating the Habitual – an Interview with Illustrator Karthik M.



Silently observing family, friends and strangers, Bombay-based Karthik M. translates human routine into funny, insightful illustrations. The full time brand content writer, recently became a part time illustrator when a love affair with the medium began. It is his way of expressing his perspectives on our ever evolving world, which make his work an intimate glimpse into the inner workings of his mind, which feels like an open forum for questioning and appreciating the world we live in.




When did you begin illustrating?
I started illustrating consciously around five years back. Before that (well, even now) doodling and scribbling formed a major part of my work day for sure. And they just found their way into the dustbin later. The idea of side projects got me greatly interested, and I think that is the point where this whole love affair with illustration began.

Were you always a creative person?
I get a bit confused with the tag of a creative person. I’m just a guy who loves to make things. And according to me, everyone is creative. It is just a way of expressing oneself or your thoughts on the world around you in your own special way. I was always a curious person, looking at stuff, asking questions. Actually, lots of it. So I would say I’m more of a curious guy and everything else is just a byproduct of that.




Humour is a reoccurring motif in your work. What role does humour play in your illustrations?
It makes me happy that my work brings a smile on your face, although that was never deliberate. I am forever looking for that twist in the ideas I’m exploring. Fortunately, I have been able to find stuff which most people overlook. I guess that’s where the humour might be coming from. I would love my ideas to form questions in someone’s mind more than anything else. And if I can do that by making them smile and go “Ahhh …”, I’d be delighted, of course.


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What do you do when you hit a creative block?
Earlier I used to just keep at it, thinking that’s the only way the block will go away. Wisdom comes with experience, they say. So after all the head banging, I have enough sense nowadays to drop what I’m doing and do something else if I hit a creative block—it could be another side project or a maybe a house chore. That usually works.

What do you do when you are not busy creating?
I’m usually with my better half, trying my best not to irritate her, or playing with my three feline brats, or trying to think of a way to declutter the house, and messing it up even further.






You often mix illustration and text. Do you ever dabble in poetry or prose?
One of my side projects involve writing 140-character stories on Twitter (@mysmallstories). My day job involves writing for brands. So you could say that there is a bit of dabbling in prose happening there. Lettering is something that has caught my attention in recent months. So I’d definitely be exploring some writing for that.

Your work very much represents modern society, addressing daily routines in an insightful way. Where do you go for inspiration?
Everyday life continues to be the biggest source of inspiration for me. Daily conversations, silently observing people around, asking questions keeps those grey cells busy. A good example of that would be Vichar (, the collaborative art-verse project with my wife. We used to question and discuss the everyday things. Things that used to affect us in all ways big and small. One day, we just thought of giving a form to it. And Vichar was born. It means “thought” in Marathi, an Indian language. Besides daily life, the internet is a place that never fails to enlighten me with its huge pool of interesting information.


To see more of his work visit