The Girl with a Green Mind

An interview with illustrator, Ambika Karandikar

Meet Ambika Karandikar, an illustrator and dancer from Pune, India. Ambika illustrates picture books, book covers, storyboards and comics for English and Marathi publications. In this episode she talks about her encouraging parents, her carefree childhood in Pune, her bitter disappointment in art school and how she turned this despair into a learning opportunity. From there, Ambika took her first steps into the world of illustration. Ambika is also a nature lover who is discovering the deeper meaning of metamorphosis. She can also be found tending her garden or strolling the hillsides outside Pune when she isn’t working.


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Before the pandemic I was constantly working away on one book or another. That’s how I met Vibha Batra and we made a mammoth 283 page graphic novel, ‘The Secret Life of Debbie G’. I also celebrated the launch picture book, ‘The Song at the Heart of the River’, by Ishani Lauren Naidu. Needless to say, it was time for a pause. While I put my feet up, the pandemic came along and it turned out that a pause was the wrong move.

When I was ready to return to the world, I realised this time I had to carve a space for myself. Believe me, it was hard!I started asking myself what I wanted from life and from my work. If I didn’t have to turn out an artwork every day what would I do? The more I searched, the clearer my answer came. I wanted to write and draw, not just draw. I wanted to move out of the little box I had created and learn about other people like myself.

That and the strange reoccurring dream that I was asking questions like Oprah Winfrey led to a personal project where I am interviewing makers, artists and farmers about their lives. You’ll read about the inspiring moments and the triumphs, the shattered expectations and how the take one baby step at a time.

Cargo Collective 2017 — Frogtown, Los Angeles