Ashok Rajagopalan is an illustrator, a graphic designer, an animator and also a writer of children’s books. He has illustrated more than 500 books for children in the last twenty years, for publishers like Tulika, Scholastic, Macmillan, Oxford University Press and Orient Longman.

Tulika Books was kind enough to facilitate this interview with Ashok for us. Ashok talks to us about his inspiration behind Gajapati Kulapati, and how we can spark children’s interest for illustrations at school level.

Thank you Aneesha from Tulika Books for helping us with the interview.

Thank you Ashok, for agreeing to do the interview.


IMC: What has been your inspiration behind Gajapati Kulapati? An elephant you met on the way to somewhere? and theAdd a little bit of body text name? My 6 year old wondered how anyone could name their child as Gajapati Kulapati, and I told her I will ask the author and let her know 🙂 So whats the story behind the name?

Ashok: Everybody in our family, especially my mother, loves elephants. We collect all kinds of elephant toys, dolls, books and pictures. Gajapati was based on a comic I had drawn for my mom 25 years ago.
I wanted to give him a jumbo name, befitting his size, and thought of Gajapati, which is Ganesha’s name. I also wanted little readers to repeat his name in singsong fashion, and added Kulapati, which made his name bigger! But does your daughter like his name?

IMC: The first book was a big hit and so is this one. Can we look forward to more adventures of Gajapati Kulapati?

Ashok: I am writing more, but don’t you think that future GK books should be as good as these two? So I take my time making sure of that. Only after Tulika and I agree that it is a perfect GK story, will it see the light of publishing day.

IMC: Today’s kids in India are blessed to be born now, thanks to the wonderful Indian themed picture books they are being exposed to. What are your thoughts on the Indian publishing industry especially for kids?

When parents and children become good judges of books, publishers start bringing out quality books. That is what’s happening now. A win-win!

Ashok: Today’s kids are blessed to have such indulgent parents, too! Parents today, especially moms, are committed to exposing children to good literature. This keeps Indian publishers busy bringing out more books for children. When parents and children become good judges of books, publishers start bringing out quality books. That is what’s happening now. A win-win!

IMC: Your illustrations are splendid. How do you think we can get our children at school level to spark their interest in illustrations and how can we encourage them for the same?

Ashok: Thank you for the compliment. Inside I remain an ink-spotted boy showing his drawings to uncles and aunties, you know.

We can get children interested in illustrations by asking them to write and draw their own stories. Give them lots of paper, space, time but no criticism. And tell them, too, that their illustrations are splendid. Will keep them going, just like kind compliments keep me going.

IMC: Lastly, three children’s books which influenced you?

Ashok: New Children’s books keep influencing me even now, the top three keeps changing, so I shall just mention the earliest influences:
1. Five go to Billycock Hill – Enid Blyton

2. Just William – Richmal Crompton

3. Swami and Friends – R. K. Narayan

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