Monday, June 8, 2015

Meet Ambika Sambasivan of Studio Wot Mot (Featured Artist)

Art is as subjective and personal as one’s preferences when it comes to fashion, décor or food. While some of us tend to analyze the artwork and connect with it on many levels, there are others that think of art as a fun and creative approach to add color, personality and visual interest to ones space. No matter which way you choose to go, the one thing that binds all art enthusiasts is that art has the undeniable power to generate emotions.
I recently spotted New York based artist/illustrator Ambika Sambasivan’s vibrant and animated digital art on Society 6 and was immediately drawn to the familiarity of the Indian scenes depicted by her. Her name might sound familiar as she is also the owner of Studio Bommai - a small business venture that specializes in wooden dolls for the Indian festival of "Golu". Largely inspired by her Indian roots, her artwork created at Studio Wot Mot and her crafty creations at Studio Bommai, bring to life distinctive desi influences in a riot of colors. Ambika trained as a product designer at the prestigious National Institute of Design (Ahmedabad) and then later went on to do her Master's in product strategy at TU Delft in the Netherlands. Let’s chat up with this multi-faceted artist and delve deeper into her mind to know how she juggles it all. 

TECD: Hello and welcome to TECD Ambika! Delighted to have you here. Artist, illustrator, communications consultant and a small business owner at Etsy. Tell us about your foray into the world of art and how you manage to juggle it all?

Ambika: “So happy to be featured on TECD, Sruthi! Thank you!
By day, I am a communications consultant working with non-profits to restructure their overall communications strategy and design short and long-term campaigns. By night, I work on my illustrations and craft. This journey began when I created illustrations for my mom's (Kala Sambasivan writes regular columns in The Hindu and Deccan Herald in India) short stories that she was sending to a publisher. The publisher took delight in my artwork and asked me to do a picture book for them. The first book was very well received and it so happened that I ended up illustrating four books in a short period of time.

My mom and I wanted to take our teamwork a notch up and set out on our own publishing journey - Yali Books. We were thrilled and humbled by the lovely response our first picture book, “Bye, Bye, Motabhai!” received. Our second book, “Jaipur Jamboree” was launched this May and we are working towards a visual puzzle/activity book for late-summer. We hope to develop Yali Books into an independent publishing house that features new writing and illustration talent through stories that open a window to South Asia.

With Studio Bommai, it really began when I had to set up my first golu after I got married. Golu is a traditional display of dolls from Indian mythology and I didn't have any dolls! I tried making some with clay, paper mache, even Play-Doh, with little success. I then discovered these unpainted wooden doll shapes on Etsy and tried painting them. I liked the results and soon, I couldn't stop making them. After giving gifts to everyone I knew, I experimented with an Etsy shop. So far, I love the whole process of crafting and sending out my creations to buyers around the world!”

TECD: Your artwork has huge doses of Indian influence in it. What aspects about India do you find fascinating? Are there other things/people that have an influence on your style of work and art that you create? 

Ambika: “I grew up in Delhi and Chennai, my schooling was almost equally split between the two cities. So I can switch between my North and South Indian sides and I 'get' both cultures. But I do think of myself as a proud Chennai girl, I love my hometown and miss being there despite the heat! 

What I love about India are the contradictions, the little absurdities and general unpredictability. Life in India is never boring - every day is a mini-adventure. You learn something new if you keep your eyes and ears open and cultivate a zen-like acceptance of the way things work. It is this colorful, chaotic, beautiful mess that I try to capture through my art. Every piece of art lets me relive a memory or 'travel' to a new place. If I inject a little bit of humor into my artwork, I feel I have succeeded.”
TECD: Ambika we’d love to know more about the creative process that goes into making your digital art at Studio Wot Mot? 

Ambika: I have no background in traditional art techniques and my 'artistic style' is a result of my training in product sketching, which helps me see objects, people and animals as a composition of simple geometric shapes. 

My technique is paper collage - I cut out pieces from textured/printed paper and assemble them into a scene. My companions are my trusty X-Acto knife and a glue stick! Once the pieces are cut, I then scan them at a very high resolution in a .tif format to ensure that the details and colors are replicated without quality losses. Finally, I work on Adobe Photoshop to assemble the little pieces into a complete artwork."

I'm sure you are inspired by Ambika's creative journey and have fallen in love with her out-of-the-box fascinating art.Thank you Ambika for taking the time to share your creative journey with us and we wish you all the very best in all your creative endeavors.

To stay connected with Ambika, you could follow her on Instagram ,where she shares images of the projects she’s working on, occasional contests and promotional sales. To purchase Ambika’s artistic creations, make sure to click on Studio Bommai and Society 6.

Wishing you a wonderful week ahead!

Image Credit/ Copyright: Ambika Sambasivan


  1. I'm a big fan of paper collage.It gives an instant life to the pictures...dolls are beautiful.

  2. Ambika's work is such fun. Love the color combinations she goes for, and the generous sprinkling of Indian everyday in each of her illustrations!


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