Musings: Interview With Tanvi Karnik

Tanvi Karnik is an artist based in Mumbai, specializing in ink illustrations and doodles. There have been very few instances, where we’ve come across art so meticulously crafted. The wonderful intricate details and the careful interpretation of each piece of art, speaks volumes of her love for her passion.

In this interview, we chat with Tanvi Karnik and get to learn more about her art and her journey as a self-taught artist.


Hi Tanvi! It’s a pleasure to have this conversation with you! Tell us a bit about yourself.

Hello! I am an ink artist from Mumbai. I have done my Masters in psychology and was working as an assistant teacher at Oberoi School for a few months. I quit my job when I realized my passion for art. Honestly my complete childhood went in drawing, but that took a backseat when I got busy with my studies. My father is a superb artist, so I guess I got like ten percent of talent from him. I never really went for any art class since my Dad felt that art is inborn and cannot be taught by anyone. Eventually my hobby turned into my passion and is now my full time career.

We learned that you are a self-taught artist. How did you find your passion for art?

I used to always doodle. In college my complete desk was filled with tiny details and patterns. I never pursued art since it was just a tiny hobby I had. Then these desk doodles evolved into good pieces of artworks. My Dad noticed this and pushed me forward. Slowly I got better in like a year, and everyone was after me to showcase it online. Very soon I started getting various commissions to create custom artworks. Hence the whole concept of personalized Ink Tales happened. My fiance saw how happy I was doing ink art, so he pushed me to quit my job and pursue Ink Tales as a full time profession.

Yin and Yang by Tanvi Karnik

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Audrey Hepburn by Tanvi Karnik

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What do you draw inspiration from?

A very clichéd answer, but everything! Literally. Sometimes a song inspires me to draw, sometimes I watch my favorite television show, which then makes me want to draw something good. Particular festivals or certain days that occur, I like to interpret those too. But the biggest inspiration for me is animated movies. Seeing them, the characters, the beautiful animation, makes me pick my pen and start.

Talk us through your creative process. How long does it take you from ideation to the finished product?

To be honest, my creative process is pretty slow. I need to speed it up. Basically I do not just aimlessly doodle. I do not even call my artworks doodle. I call them Ink illustrations since I take a lot of time to patiently create those intricate patterns. Hence when you look closely, they are very neatly finished and not just drawn in haste. I take two to three days to ideate and think what I want to do, and create a rough layout. Once that is done, it takes me barely two days to do the finishing. More than the actual drawing, the planning stage takes me more time. Once I have thought through what I want to draw and portray, then I am in my art zone. I am continuously at it for ten hours a day till I finish it. But for that “zone” to come it takes time.

We are eager to learn about the tools you use. Could you give us a quick preview of your inventory?

I use Staedtler Pigment Liners ranging from nib sizes 0.05 to 0.8. I swear by those, as they are the best according to me. And I stock up on 0.05 size specially as I need them all the time for all the detailing.

Apart from that I use Pigma Micron pens. Those are good too, pretty close to Staedtler, but I feel its less smooth as compared to Staedtler. So I prefer to use them for practice work, moleskine sketches, pattern swatch demos, etc.
For filling bigger areas I use Faber Castell Markers and Staedtler Markers. If I need to fill certain areas quickly, I use the markers. But for my orders and commissions I fill up bigger areas with my 0.8 Staedtler Point Pens. It takes time to be honest, but I like the finishing. I give double coats of black to all my black areas to look neat and more finished.
Coming to color pens, to color small areas and to draw using color, I use Staedtler Color pens that come in a set. The nib size is around 0.2
For bigger areas I use Touch Three Sketch Markers. They are double ended, one for thinner fillings and the other for thicker filling.

Aries by Tanvi Karnik

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Would you mind letting us have a peek at your work station?

Tanvi’s Tools
Tanvi’s Workstation

How effective do you think art is, as a tool for community engagement? Is there any particular artwork/project by an artist that has had a profound influence on you?

Art is meditation. It helps you be at peace and enriches your life. I feel every person should do something creative to leave the rut of a chaotic life. Art gives you a canvas to let out whatever it is you are going through. Whether good or bad, art is something that is always there to help you, guide you and free you. For me some influential work is by Johanna Basford, whose adult coloring book illustrations are brilliant and the aim is to give people psychological relief through coloring. I also love each and every work by Kerby Rosanes of Sketchy Stories. These two are my ultimate inspirations.

What keeps you busy? We would love to know more about the projects you’re currently working on or would like to work on.

As of now I was busy with a massive A2 size commission which I am yet to show everyone. It was the biggest size I have worked with but I realized that bigger the paper, better the artwork! Generally I only work in two sizes; I do not go above A3 since I feel it would take me ages to fill it up with my minuscule patterning. But I pulled off the big size and it looked good, so now I will be creating various artworks in that size for an exhibition I want to do later on. Along with commissions, I am working on a personal project of the Zodiac series. As soon as that is completed, I am intending to start a new series, which is a surprise, to be unveiled in January 2016.

Procrastination- how would you define your relationship with it? And how do you deal with it?

I have a horrid relationship with it and wish we could break up. I procrastinate way too much. Sometimes my family members have to push me and jolt me awake to draw. If I do not feel like drawing, and do not feel inspired, I just cannot pick up the pen. But then I found a way to deal with it. I have a hot cup of tea and watch my favorite shows. That totally unwinds me and then I am able to work. Or else the quickest solution to feel inspired is to read Harry Potter. Those books get me out of my melancholic moods and I feel charged to work. However sometimes nothing works, I just wait for those feelings to pass. In a day or two I get normal and then suddenly sit and create a huge art piece.

Spade by Tanvi Karnik

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What is the one thing that keeps you going?

My ambition to be known for my work and inspire people around me. That keeps me going.  Also there is no back up option. I always just want to do art and can’t imagine doing anything else in life. So the will to create each day keeps me going.

If you could pick one artist who has had a significant influence on you, who would you chose?

Johanna Basford. A lot of my art style is influenced from her. I am in awe of her work and hope to be like her. She has come up with amazing coloring books like Enchanted Forest and Lost Ocean for adults to color in. I hope to one fine day create my own coloring book for my audience using my ink illustrations.

What is your most favourite work thus far?

The Hummingbird is my absolute favorite. I have made thousands and thousands of dots to create it! Took me time but I enjoyed making each and every dot! Also the second one is one of my commissions. I got a great response on it and it kind of set a standard for my work. I love it for its details, subtlety and symmetry.

The Hummingbird by Tanvi Karnik

If you were not an artist, what do think you would be?

A writer. I love writing, and am constantly blogging. So when I am not drawing with my pens, you will find me writing with them

Jack Sparrow by Tanvi Karnik

Tshirts, posters, prints, coasters and more available here.

Gemini by Tanvi Karnik

Tshirts, posters, prints, coasters and more available here.

What about music? How influential is it while you work at getting a creative output, oh and- let us have a peek at the top songs in your playlist right now.

My playlist is completely filled with Bollywood songs. So I play them according to my mood. If I feel my art is going slow, I play all Punjabi/fast songs. Sometimes I play old Kishore Kumar songs when its going to be a late night for inking. And generally I play my current favorite song on loop. So if I like one song, I will play it over hundred times while doing my art. Finally then I am done with my artwork, and also sick of the song so I don’t end up hearing it again.

What’s the most dangerous thing that appeals to you?

Love and freedom. They can make or break a person. Sometimes it’s a medicine and sometimes they are toxic. End of the day it’s how you choose to see it.

If you could give one piece of advice for aspiring artists reading this right now, what would that be?

A lot of people will put you down; will tell you what to do and what not to do. You will face criticism, self doubts and fears of choosing the field of art. Ignore all of it. Just create, because there is nothing in the world as fulfilling as seeing your final masterpiece once you finish with it. Do not run after money, just work hard, and trust me, money and fame will follow. Also, do not compare yourself to other artists, once you fall into the rut of competition and comparisons your creativity will go for a toss and art will no longer make you happy.

How has the journey with Cupick been thus far?

Pretty good! Got a lot of encouragement and support from Cupick. It’s a very professional site that encourages everybody for the artist within. I am very glad to portray my work this site, and shall keep showcasing my work there. I love the opportunities they keep coming up with, and can’t wait to be a part of it.


Visit Tanvi on Cupick to check out more of her work.



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