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Ranganath Krishnamani, an illustrator who is driven by passion, is a freethinker, a obsessive doodler and loves architecture, has developed his own distinctive style and emphasis on enjoying the process of creation. Here he explains, how design can be descriptive as well as simple at the same time.

A strong expression of facial features from Ranganath’s digital sketch pad.

Lure of tradition.
Architecture, urban settings and historical detailing is clearly evident in the illustrations Ranganath creates. The right mix of colour is enhanced by a sound knowledge of scale and proportion; while minimalistic detailing is his specialty. The flat colours almost seem to be in the third dimension due to extensive yet subtle layering and innovative typography. The project done in collaboration with 100 Watts Designs that celebrates city architecture is a perfect display of Ranganathan’s love for minimalism and architecture.

In collaboration with 100 Watts Designs, Ranganath created coasters and prints of architecture and heritage in the breathtaking city of Lucknow.

Jack of all trades.
As a designer it’s tempting to dip toes into varied mediums and explore in order to help find your identity and also demonstrate that you can work on diverse types of projects. But its important to step back from time to time and consciously focus on putting together the projects that had you most excited. Presenting yourself too thin may make it a bit harder in the long run. It is probably better to be not just jack of all trades but also become master of all

Typography and architectural knowledge showcased in this set of prints and postcards revolving around the heritage city Hampi.

Style comes naturally.
Ranganathan tries to focus on capturing unique stories through his illustrations and for him style is something that has come about naturally. He believe style is something that doesn’t magically appear fully-formed at the first time you draw something, it’s about having fun, hard work and self belief that matters. Cultivating a distinct point of view and working towards capturing them in your projects goes a long way in creating a niche and helping you stand out

In collaboration with 100 Watts Designs, Ranganath created coasters and prints of architecture and heritage in the breathtaking city of Lucknow.

India, the eternal charmer.
As complicated as simple, an inspiration for many and one of the most extensively used topics for art, India, is one of the core themes in Ranganath’s work. He brilliantly captures people, their lifestyles and customs through his sketches and forms of digital art. Employing his technique of playing with the positive and negative struck a perfect cord with the Indian theme for obvious reasons; refining complex buildings, human expressions and reactions led to capture that appeal to a whole lot of art lovers.

A strong expression of facial features from Ranganath’s digital sketch pad.
A NEW WAY TO SAY ‘HI!’ - Social networks are the new way to communicate and even typing is now a passé! Use this customisable welcome card to greet friends.

India, the eternal charmer.
As complicated as simple, an inspiration for many and one of the most extensively used topics for art, India, is one of the core themes in Ranganath’s work. He brilliantly captures people, their lifestyles and customs through his sketches and forms of digital art. Employing his technique of playing with the positive and negative struck a perfect cord with the Indian theme for obvious reasons; refining complex buildings, human expressions and reactions led to capture that appeal to a whole lot of art lovers.

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Exploring his sense of design right from childhood in his family tailoring business, Arjun Makwana went on to complete his BFA from the Faculty of Fine Arts, Baroda. On his way to work at Ogilvy & Mather, Mumbai, he observes businessmen selling their wares at traffic signals. This daily routine and the multi-faceted characters inspired him to create a series of minimalistic posters showcasing his skills as a graphic designer.

Project:

The self-initiated project aims to touch a key social issue, begging. Buy local, buy Indian to encourage hard work and curb begging. The posters are a direct reflection of the hustle of these people and their
unique wares.

Concept:

Colourful characters at an Indian signal are captured in minimalistic posters. True to their real-life counterparts the art is just as loud and expressive.

Outcome:

As an attempt to further the sales of traffic signal businessmen, Arjun has designed these vivid posters.

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Published in Issue 32

If you are a recent graduate or about to finish your college then this issue may have answers to many of your questions. Like, how to get the best placement or the internship? How to present best in front of the interviewer? Which studio or agency to choose to start your career? How to work in a team or choose to be a freelancer? This issue has advice from many experts such as Ashwini Deshpande and Gopika Chowfla who gave the secrets of choosing the right intern for their well-known design teams. And on another hand, Rajaram Rajendran and Ranganath Krishnamani advise young designer to gain multiple skills and be the best at them. Also, recent MIT Post Graduate Vinta Jakkal shares her secret with which she grabbed the great opportunity of joining the Elephant Design, Pune team to start her career.

 

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For the design of new Rs 2,000 note, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has said that the note was designed internally at the central bank.

India has a brand new currency note – a Rs. 2,000 note – the highest denomination in circulation currently. The new currency note was introduced in the backdrop of a massive disruption of India’s Financial System – with the demonetisation of existing Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 currency notes, which formed 86% of the currency in circulation. This was done to make all “Black Money” and Counterfeit Currency held in Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 notes useless. Let’s start from the design of new Rs 2,000 note.

 

My current view is that the demonetisation exercise is a bad idea – economically, practically and morally. The costs are massive and the benefits are vague and at best negligible. However, that is a subject for another day. Today, I’d like to focus on evaluating the visual design of the new Rs. 2,000 currency note.

 

At first look, the new design is a dramatic departure from the aesthetic of all Indian Currency notes – Rs. 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500, 1,000. You could easily describe the previous currency aesthetic as “vintage”, “retro”, “ornamental”… But such clear description eludes the Rs. 2,000 note.

The new design is at once vintage and brutalist. It is ornamental and geometric. It combines 500 year old patterns with attempts at a post-modern aesthetic.

Here is my critique of India’s new Two Thousand Rupee currency note:

 

No Unifying Concept
The new note has no underlying idea. It is little more than a mishmash of several unconnected elements – Gandhi, Mars Mission, Swachh Bharat Logo, Elephants + Lotus + Peacock Patterns, and various completely random ornaments. Interestingly, Lotus is our national flower, Peacock is our national bird, but Tiger (not Elephant!) is our national animal.

 

Terrible Typography
The front (Gandhi side) of the note has 11 different typefaces, written in 14 sizes and 12 weights. The back (Mars Mission) has 6 (without counting the various scripts), written in 11 sizes and 9 weights. This is not counting the serial number which itself has 7 different sizes of numerals (apparently a security feature).

The typographic choices range from condensed sans-serifs to thin serifs. Worse, there is absolutely nothing common between the typefaces used for the English text and the Devnagri text. I would have imagined our notes to have benefitted from the flourishing Indian Typographic scene – but sadly, that is not the case.

Merawala Pink
This can be subjective of course and I’m sure there are people out there who love the pink / magenta. I hate it. The color choice could have been much better. Among the reactions I’ve heard so far – “it looks like a bus ticket”, “it looks like a fun-fair coupon”… However, objectively – the highest denomination bank note of our country deserved to look more sophisticated and subtle – stately perhaps – not a in-your-face pink extravaganza.

Inconsistent Aesthetic
The new Rs. 2,000 note has no consistent aesthetic palette. The aesthetic swings from ornamental motifs (of which there are 4 different styles!) to spirograph motifs. From an etched rendering of Gandhi to a rendering of “Mangalyaan” in some kind of a three tone style. From bold geometric to batik-style motifs of elephants and peacocks. From Swiss Punk Typography to Mughal-esque patterns. In comparison, previous notes (100, 500, 1,000) had a clear aesthetic – ornamental / vintage. I didn’t like those either – but they were at least consistent. The new notes seem to have suffered from a malaise some designers might be quite familiar with – letting the client dictate individual elements (“I like this”, “My wife’s favourite color is…”, “I don’t like serifs”, “I want it like that note”…), resulting in an unsalvagable hodge-podge.

The new note attempts a modern aesthetic, but falls woefully short.

Size: The Cost of Change
The Rs. 2,000 note is 66 mm tall, about 6mm shorter than both the Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 notes, which share the same height at 72 mm. I’m assuming there is some justification for the change in size – but I’m not sure if the reason for making a 6mm change justified the enormous logistical effort of recalibrating 200,000 ATM machines spread across the entire country. An effort the government has struggled with and expects will take about three weeks in the best case scenario. With currently available facts, this seems like a classic case of a rookie designer not thinking about the real cost of their design decisions.

 

They forgot to do the layout
The layout of the Rs. 2,000 note is all over the place. There is no clear organization of information – with different typographic, decorative, functional and security elements, seemingly floating around. Absolutely no attention has been paid to alignments – as you will see in the image below, almost none of the 23 visual units on the front and 17 on the back seem to align with each other. The lack of any sort of a grid, especially when you have almost two dozen visual elements, is unforgivable.

Rs. 2,000 can’t buy you imagination
Above all, the new Rs. 2,000 note is completely unimaginative. Instead of using this opportunity to reimagine Indian currency design (perhaps even global!) – the design of the new note is unremarkable in every way. All our notes have Gandhi on them (putting others might be too controversial) – but could we have at least been more imaginative with the aesthetic of Gandhi’s portrait?

 

No Functional Improvements
One of the highlights of the Prime Minister’s announcement of the new currency regime was to implement new security features that would make it difficult for counterfeiters to make fake notes. Apparently, the RBI didn’t get that brief. A few days later, RBI officials have clarified that the notes have no new security features – since there wasn’t enough time (To all the designers reading this – even the Central Bank of our country has impossible deadlines – it’s not just you!). As most designers are painfully aware, the lack of actual features has never stopped the marketing department from making tall claims.

 

UX: Does it work?
This point is probably outside the scope of a purely visual design critique – but as someone who believes that design runs much deeper than the visual, I ask two questions: “Does the new note fulfil its stated purpose?” and “Does it work well with the rest of the system?” – this is the most fundamental way to determine if a design exercise has achieved its goal.

 

While demonetising the Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 notes and thereafter, the Prime Minister has explained the purpose of this move in the following ways:

1. Remove “Black Money” from the country

2. Move from a “Cash Economy” to a “Cashless Economy”

3. Encourage Digital Transactions

 

We also know that:

1. In the “non-black economy” – cash is usually used for small transactions, while large transaction are usually carried out using cheques, online transfers etc…

2. “Khulla nahi hai” (“I don’t have change”) is a refrain everyone hears at least once a day.

 

If this is the context, the answer to both questions (purpose and system) is NO:

1. A higher denomination note is suited only for “storing” money – not for everyday transactions that most people engage in using cash – buying groceries on the street, snacks, beverages, local train / bus ticket, cab fare…

2. A study of the system will tell us that there isn’t enough “change” in the system to facilitate the easy use of the Rs. 2,000 note for everyday transactions. A Rs. 2,000 note is useful if your purchase is over Rs. 1,500.

3. More importantly, the Rs. 2,000 note encourages payments in cash, thereby defeating the objective of moving to a cashless economy – unless of course the RBI and the government expect Inflation to go up dramatically enough to make Rs. 2,000 equivalent to the Rs. 1,000 note it replaces!

If the government is of a mind to make India go “cashless” – it is not clear how a Rs. 2,000 note fits with that objective.

It might make sense to “go cashless” by removing higher denomination notes and limiting cash use to smaller retail transactions that are too small to merit using a digital route.

 

On a positive note, it seems the new notes are now “braille-enabled” – so users with vision difficulties might be able to use them more easily.

 

As much as I want to find some redeeming qualities in the design of the new Rs. 2,000 currency note – I can’t. At the risk of being facetious – the only thing going for the new currency design is that the bad design is consistent with new Rs. 1, 2, 5 and 10 coins designed recently. Like the demonetisation, the new note is an unmitigated design disaster and a missed opportunity. With the kind of update cycles that currency notes have, it is unlikely that the design and the visual language of Indian Currency will change for the better in the next 5 years. And that is sad.

This critique was originally published on the Beard Design Blog and has been reproduced with permission.

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A purely design based service, LOCOPOPO Studio attach contemporary graphics to their clients need for branding that is simple, bold and fresh!

luxury

Mumbai based, LOCOPOCO Studio believes in discussing the execution idea first rather than too much referencing. Founded by Lokesh Karekar the studio focuses on identity design to creating images, Illustrations for brands, books, magazines and products. Their large list of happy clients include Lakme Absolute Salon, Taj Vivanta, Economic Times and Asian Paints to name a few.

luxury

Branding is to give a unique, fresh look and feel to the brand without losing its essence or the core idea. While the other side of the coin; re-branding comes with its own set of challenges. Changing the existing perception, which the brand has created over a period of time, is a challenging task: good design has the power to bring that change.

The brochure design for St. Amand (By Lodha Group), a luxury service brand by Lodha Group for select residences of the Lodha Group portfolio; the aim being unique and stylised imagery showcasing the services provided by the brand keeping the Lodha group luxury theme in the background.

A consistent framed series of illustrations that can be identified for its uniqueness and overall balance of elements; solid gold and blue highlight the intricate beige line work that showcase the services provided by St. Amand by Lodha Group.

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Rohan Dahotre is an illustrator wanting to make a difference. One who feels deeply about nature and draws inspiration from the stunning bounty of life it nourishes, he aims to convey and express the magnificence of the natural world!

Furry Friend

Rohan had already made it a ‘habit’ to add detail to his depictions, by the time he’d started drawing out his favourite cartoon characters as a kid. He was always fond of textures and patterns, incorporating them in his artwork, which only grew to contain more design elements.

Tribal Queen

A keen observer who loves exploring the wilderness, he enjoys illustrating all things wild. For him, nature is full of inspirations, and is the ultimate form of creative expression – be it various life forms; textures in leaves; designs and colours in bugs and insects, or the elegance in tigers and other wild cats. Undoubtedly, it endows him with insight, as studying the intricacies in nature and understanding animal behaviour is what he likes most.

Mister Rhino

The crux lies in simplifying complex organic forms into simple shapes, even though adding patterns inside them gives them a new identity. Experimenting with animal photos and giving them a new look and feel, he yearns to demonstrate the true beauty within the amazing creatures, so that people may better respect them and their habitat.

Published in Issue 34

This is a rebranding special issue focused on finding the answers to some of the basic questions like what is the right time for re-branding? or what all needs changing and how exactly? We interviewed some of the best branding studios like Landor Mumbai, Elephant, VGC, Inchwork, and many more. If you are considering rebranding or want to learn more about the art of doing it then this issue is a must read. So, go ahead!

 

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A Pune-based branding & design studio, Cub Design recently created identity for Bake Factory which will have you reaching out for the genuine baked goodness!

bake

Pune-based Bake Factory approached Cub design for a clean and elegant identity that suits the brand and their tagline ‘Fine Art of Baking’. The identity was to reflect the essence of belongingness and connectivity. Banking on the USPs, it was clear to create a decorative identity based on the company name, instead of an icon based logo.

bake

Initial mood boards were the attempts at typography and calligraphy, which were later developed using colours. The soft swirl of chocolate in the final logo connects with their audience and tempts the prospective buyer; the final logo is a combination of brand’s warmth and grabs attention in a jiffy. Thoughtful design makes this logo highly recognisable and trusted symbol for genuine baked products.

The resultant logo for Bake Factory represents the friendly and playful environment of this unique place which attracts consumers for their delicious sweet treats

Published in Issue 34

This is a rebranding special issue focused on finding the answers to some of the basic questions like what is the right time for re-branding? or what all needs changing and how exactly? We interviewed some of the best branding studios like Landor Mumbai, Elephant, VGC, Inchwork, and many more. If you are considering rebranding or want to learn more about the art of doing it then this issue is a must read. So, go ahead!

 

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With the vision of his masterpiece shining bright in his mind, illustrator Yogesh Bhusare has been working towards his design and product brand since the day he graduated. Expanding his knowledge and skills regularly, he has worked with well-known clients and is close to achieve his dream. Here are the highlights of the conversation with him.

masterpiece
Tribal India. Fusing tribal art with the new tincture of modern vibrant colours; this is the artists take on India, a land of rich cultural heritage and exotic art forms.

Urging himself to experiment with styles and daily referencing has broadened illustrator, Yogesh Bhusare’s portfolio and helped in his transition from an event agency to Taproot India to an art director at Leo Burnett. Picking up positives from his work place combined with sheer hard work has led him to display his thoughts that are close to materialising into his masterpiece.

masterpiece
Arty truck. Inspired by Indian Trucks, the illustration for the counter portrays the vibrant colours and different languages of Indian culture delivering one common message of thanking the customers who shop from this counter.

CG. From minimal illustration to multiple image collage to freehand doodling, you seem to be trying all the different styles. How does it help you and which one of these styles you enjoy most?
YB. I love experimenting with styles. I usually do a lot of referencing and that’s like a daily habit for me. When I come across something that is new and inspiring, I try to experiment with it, adding my sense of art. My personal style involves much of doodling, but I am inclined more towards experimenting rather than sticking to one style. An awesome concept in mind will just be useless without the proper skill, discipline and style to make them.

Tribute from Heart. This was a small art tribute given by the artist for our loved president and the rocket man of India Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam.

CG. How do colours, detailing and typography make themselves heard on your canvas?
YB. Colours represent the mood that an artist is in while typography is like the feelings. Every artist uses them to display the thoughts he has in his head. Detailing is the factor of patience and the satisfaction of the artist.

masterpiece
Now or Never. As day turns into night in this illustration, the rapt human is frozen into inaction much like the city he lives in. The words, “Better Now than Never” capture the dialogue running through this man’s mind.

CG. You have worked with many big bands, so how do you manage to engage them with your illustrations?
YB. I see them through my perception as a common man and what would bring that sense of attachment and engagement to me when I see the brand. I then try to incorporate the same in my work

Modern Sanyaasi. A theme that exists across the religions, is taking Sanyaas i.e. abandoning the settled life and walking one’s way to godliness. This doodle reflects the concept in a modern way.

CG. How do you develop a client-designer relationship? How does that help or hinder the design process?
YB. Communication and transparency between designer and client lead to trust, flexibility, diplomacy, collaboration and creativity. Designers are not the mind readers, so it is important for designers and clients to develop a partnership by working together, collaborating ideas and asking questions that explore and specify all key factors, details, and goals of a project. This helps the designer to develop his art and makes the whole process easy

Holy Men of India. Animate and inanimate, all are worshipped in India. This piece is an abstract portrait of the symbol of everything holy in India viz a Hindu sadhu.

CG. What is your dream project? How close are you to achieving the same?
YB. My Dream project is to own a design and product brand, and I am close to it I believe! In fact, I have just started my own brand on a small level. My brand name is AWWSOME and eventually will see it growing with time.

Space Age Ganesha. Doodling has no bounds; this theme is most clear in the technological avatar of Lord Ganesha shown here as created by electronic tools and gadgets.

CG. Your advice for the young illustrator on achieving the early success in career?
YB. Many people just dream about what you have and wish they had a career like yours to carve the thoughts on a paper. If you have the passion and you are lucky enough to be in the profession of your choice, make the best out of it

Published in Issue 34

This is a rebranding special issue focused on finding the answers to some of the basic questions like what is the right time for re-branding? or what all needs changing and how exactly? We interviewed some of the best branding studios like Landor Mumbai, Elephant, VGC, Inchwork, and many more. If you are considering rebranding or want to learn more about the art of doing it then this issue is a must read. So, go ahead!

 

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Graphic designer and illustrator, Aditi Dilip has been in the field for many years now and she still relies on her intuition for client servicing, ideation and overseeing execution of projects. She explains, how combining that with techniques has given her the freedom to see how far an idea can be pushed.

minimal
Crown Cypress. Print collaterals for a luxurious residential unit project in Bangalore with the focus on their brand principle of elegance and quality. The logo design uses soft colours of landscapes simultaneously breaking down the floor plate of the residences.

Giving the world one minimal design at a time, graphic designer and illustrator, Aditi Dilip is driven by structure and intuition. Imagining creatures from a parallel universe, she has managed to establish her style under the same theme while also running her own practice that delivers both print and web based projects with diverse clients.

minimal
The Royal Tiger. An annual report cover design for National Centre for Biological Sciences depicts the tiger by using its genetic code.

The Correct Design.

Basic design principles are followed by every designer, some subtle and others not so much! Aditi loosely follows these while staying true to her gut feeling. Her design core is balanced, proportionate and all things that make a correct design. However, the many layers to her work reveal her primary thoughts on the project. Specifically in her self-initiated projects, where she allows herself the freedom to explore, and keeping the final output minimal with soft colours and patterns

minimal
All Things Fowl. A self-initiated project celebrating birds. An imaginary world where birds are made completely angular. Repetitive patterns try to hide the rare sighting of an Asian Paradise Flycatcher but without much luck!

Mesmerising The Audience.

For an audience to keep coming back for more, a designer has to promise a certain show. Aditi has a central idea around which all her designs revolve. This nucleus keeps her audience rapt and craving for more. Her drawings of creatures of indeterminate origin coupled with clarity and sense of belonging give every composition a potency that creates a powerful impression. Attaching feelings like curiosity, intrigue or a sense of nostalgia to these are why the audience returns every time

Abstract Nature. A series of postcards illustrating various aspects of Nature with simple forms and clean lines.
Imaginary Landscapes. A self-initiated series of illustration that features imaginary creatures and the worlds they possibly inhabit.

Which way to go?

For Aditi who follows ‘Less is more’, her work displays the messages effortlessly through just minimal lines and compositions. Like the cover design for National Centre for Biological Sciences uses the genetic code smartly for the silhouette of the tiger, honest design that will please the client; easy to understand yet conveying the whole message is bound to attract viewers. A clean canvas is fulfilling her trademark. Actually, most of her designs run along the same flow giving the viewer clarity and a client to return for more.

Published in Issue 34

This is a rebranding special issue focused on finding the answers to some of the basic questions like what is the right time for re-branding? or what all needs changing and how exactly? We interviewed some of the best branding studios like Landor Mumbai, Elephant, VGC, Inchwork, and many more. If you are considering rebranding or want to learn more about the art of doing it then this issue is a must read. So, go ahead!

 

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After graduating from the National Institute of Design, Ahmadabad, Aditi Dilip established her own design practice in Bangalore out of Co.Lab, a shared work-space that she co-founded with an aim to generate, to engage with and exchange varied ideas and cultures.


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We all face it! But everyone has their own unique way to come out of it, in this issue we try to explore these different ideas of handling the ‘Creative Burnout’. The most common of all was travelling, through everyone do it in their own unique style. Like Luke Ritchie from South Africa finds the nature and mountains as the best source of inspiration while Sushant Ajnikar says riding his bike and meeting four-legged loyal friends, dogs, on the way is the best way to learn. This issue is bundled with inspirations and suggests you to travel a lot. So, pack your bags and don’t forget to subscribe your copy before you leave!

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Anant Ahuja

Anant Ahuja, at the age of just 23 founded a design practice, Inchwork, based out of New Delhi. Overcoming obstacles and fighting off challenges for two year, his firm now boasts of clients like Adidas Originals, Airbnb, Airtel and Bloomberg to name a few.


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We all face it! But everyone has their own unique way to come out of it, in this issue we try to explore these different ideas of handling the ‘Creative Burnout’. The most common of all was travelling, through everyone do it in their own unique style. Like Luke Ritchie from South Africa finds the nature and mountains as the best source of inspiration while Sushant Ajnikar says riding his bike and meeting four-legged loyal friends, dogs, on the way is the best way to learn. This issue is bundled with inspirations and suggests you to travel a lot. So, pack your bags and don’t forget to subscribe your copy before you leave!

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