#HGArtProject 015 : Karthik Krishna

Karthik's illustration for Homegrown.
Karthik's illustration for Homegrown.

Every week, we turn our facebook page into a revolving art space to feature the exclusive works of meandering and varied, young Indian artists who’s work we admire, in the hopes that our readers too may be exposed to the burgeoning artistic talent in the country. Last week, we featured the multi-faceted Dwayne D’mello; this week the HG spotlight’s on Karthik Krishna.  

Coming from a lineage that includes three nuclear scientists, Karthik Krishna might have chosen a beaten path-career but it’s one that he’s developed his own sense of expertise in. His work is evocative and flawlessly blends elements you wouldn’t think possible. Scroll on to read a thoroughly enjoyable interview with the artist.

Karthik's illustration for Homegrown.
Karthik's illustration for Homegrown.

I. HG: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Karthik: Coming from a family that comprises of three nuclear scientists over two generations, one would not expect to be appreciated for an artistic inclination.

Thankfully, that wasn’t remotely the case in the environment that I grew up in. My mother, who is a professionally trained Carnatic Classical singer, and my father, whose paintings and sculptures I grew up with, kept pushing me even in the smallest of my endeavours, which I believe was very formative in this context.

I have been sketching portraits since I-don’t-remember-when. I sucked when it came to using paints. I used to try assisting my dad just before the ganesh Chaturthi season on his idol making sessions. Well, I got fired midway every year.

I studied architecture from the National Institute of Technology. That is the closest I’ve come to studying design through a formal course. Although, the college system wasn’t exactly friendly to a person, who was looking to peek deeper into their abilities and improve themselves by the means of a non-threatening environment.

But one thing I cannot deny is the growth I had because of the constant interactions with people from various parts of the country and the neighbouring ones.

I haven’t yet worked with a company or a design firm yet, but I look forward to doing that now. ANY EMPLOYERS READING ?!

II. HG: What has inspired you over the years?

Karthik: I have always been an avid reader. I loved reading for the picture that my mind imagined whenever I read a book. I would be lying if I said writers like Khaled Hosseini and RK Narayan, whose writings will stun you with their sheer simplicity, did not have an irreversible impact on me.

My second inspiration might be Bollywood. Where else would you expect a skinny guy to bash up twenty men, twenty times his size, with a cigarette calmly placed between his lips? See, that kind of stuff radiates hope. It teaches you that being mindless at times isn’t a bad thing.

I am a very temperamental and opinionated person. Not judgemental. I try to attain closure with my work. The only thing I avoid is being haunted by the way a certain work has turned out, after it is done.

III. HG: Could you tell us more about the thought process behind the artwork you made for Homegrown?

Karthik: I am half-mallu and I had always been scared of kathakali dancers as a kid. I was just wondering the other day if they were the Indian versions of the western clowns. I wanted the menacing vibe to be incorporated. Hence the intended resemblance to Joker.

I tried to make it as unpolished and raw as possible to depict the madness. If you want a quote I suggest kathakali dancers to be our Homegrown Jokers.

IV. HG: Can you tell us about artists, local as well as international, that have influenced your work?

My absolute favourite artist is RK Laxman. Creating a character as down-to-earth as the Common Man and turning it into the face of the common public of India is nothing short of greatness.

Another artist I  pray to be as good as is Mario Miranda. I strongly suggest anybody who comes to Bombay, to have at least one meal at Café Mondegar. Miranda’s depiction of life in this city is sure to win you over. And the buxom ladies in his illustrations. PHEWW!

Giorgio Morandi is another artist whose works had a very formative impact as I started out in this field. Although he’s better known for his still life, I am a tad bit fonder of his portraits. The tonal subtlety in his paintings is so moving. The height of expressionism.

V. HG: If you could work on one project in collaboration with the Indian Government and have complete creative freedom, what would it be?

I strongly believe that there should be no punishments for  victimless crimes. We frown upon people who deface our cities with pan stains, cigarette stubs etc. I would like to work on a project that’d give a facelift to my Bombay, accommodating such acts of defacements. Many campaigns could revolve around it. As a designer, I am allowed to think that an act of defacement could be aesthetically used too.

VI. HG: What do you have planned for the future?

I am currently freelancing. I happen to be working on a couple of documentaries for omnidaft, a blog, of which I am a cofounder. I look to work for a big art house in near future. I shall strive to create better and meaningful works all my life.

VII. HG: Could you share two of your best designs and elaborate on why you think so?

I would personally rate my artwork for Homegrown as one of my best two till date. But leaving that one out.


The tree of life is a concept commonly seen in various fields n forms of art and science and civilization. It is a concept that talks about all forms of life being interconnected. This particular tree is inspired by the Armenian interpretation of it. I visualized it my way n linked it with yin n yang. A major portion of effort went into NOT appearing preachy.


This one is pretty special to me because this was my first digital painting. I had never even touched photoshop before the night that ended with this painting being made. The idea was to show Buddha at the end of a tunnel at the other end of which is a radiant darkness. Like in transit from the darkness of worldly life to the Light of Moksha. I am majorly obsessed with Buddha in a very non religious way.

Quick Question Round:

HG: One track you’re currently listening to?

Chekele by Avial.

HG: An artwork you wished you did?

None. But I do wish I were the one who designed the FIFA WORLD CUP trophy.

HG: An art project you wish you were a part of?

I wish I were a part of the team that illustrated the interiors of a café in Versova named Leaping Windows.

HG: Your favourite munchies?

Nutella. Undisputed.

HG: Paint or wacom bamboo?

I wanna say Pencil. But if I have to choose one, I’d say Paint.

Compiled By: Homegrown Staff

[You can view all our #HGArt Projects thus far by clicking through our cover photos on Facebook.] 

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