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Eco-Honours graduate transformed to a food-stylist, Payal Gupta, takes us through her detailed process of food-styling and what it really takes to be successful in the industry.

Payal, an economic honours graduate, working as a qualitative researcher, was always on the look-out for a vocation combining her passion for art and food. She came across the profession of food-styling and decided to make it her own. She then graduated as a chef from Bangkok’s Le Cordon Bleu in 2012.

Food-stylists help food brands to top the list by modifying their packaging and making it tempting enough for people to buy it. A food-stylist needs to have an expertise in cooking and an aesthetic sense to develop an interesting image for the brand.

Payal’s inspiration for food-styling dates back to her teens when the Sunday Graffiti Magazines’ food column by Jiggs Kalra with a recipe and food-image amazed her.

As a qualitative researcher, Payal has travelled almost all of India and explored various cuisines. Before cooking a regional dish, she understands it by talking to local chefs, trying it to get its most authentic version in look and feel and then combining it with regional crockery to make it location-specific. For instance, to replicate a fish cooked by Kochi’s local fishermen on their boats, Payal cooked with them to comprehend its intricacies and then tried to perfect it for the shoot.

The process of food styling varies for food products and should match the brand image. Like when styling for McDonald’s, they used industrial fryers to get the products’ exact colour and texture. For food-styling the cookies, her team started by noting the client’s demands for the cookies’ look and feel and, the existing cookie parameters that needed to be modified like colour and thickness. They then baked batches as per client requirements till approved, to bake the final shoot batch. This may be a 2-4 days long process, with last-minute set changes.

For the finale, the food should look fresh, be perfectly-cooked and garnish-enhanced, supported by a contrasting backdrop. The elements should be distinct yet in-sync and the cutlery-crockery shouldn’t be dominating but instead complimenting.

Payal facts that 99% of the food used on sets is real, enhanced by tricks like oil-brushing to get shine, using sugar to fake ice-cream, wax coating glasses for a chilled appearance or even using cigarette smoke over food to give it a piping-hot look.

For post-shoot digital enhancement, they blur backgrounds, use colour-correction and superimpose images.

Having worked with different setups, she feels that in an organised hotel chain, the finance and creative teams don’t overlap in decision-making resulting in smooth outcomes, whereas in a family-run restaurant, a single persons’ decision-making sometimes hampers shoot results.

Food-styling in India is a relatively new profession with a few established players. For new entries to sustain, they must understand the industry’s craft like cooking food, selecting crockery and camera techniques and let time develop trustworthy relationships with clients. It’s a slow, trial and error based process and may take about 3-5 years.

Advising budding stylists, she suggests them to have financial support to balance the initial low pay-scale, be patient, develop PR skills and extend clientele, be updated about the food-world, collect diverse crockery, develop a cooks’ team and document the learning process.

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It’s happening; the focus of design is shifting from being brand-centric to being users centric. Appiness Interactive, a digital consulting firm, believes that every design needs to ensure optimum users experience, not radical changes in the structure just to create shock and awe. “We do not want to reinvent the wheel”, they say. Below, they put on a little show and tell.

Wow.jobs.

The driving force behind any good design should be user experience. And to accomplish that, exhaustive steps need to be undertaken to deliver a UX which is simple and functional for users. A designer’s expertise determines how an optimum solution to a problem is sought and solved.

Before Wow.Jobs manifested, a study of insights was necessary. Appiness, therefore, dug into the minds of jobseekers to try and see what kind of problems and questions they possess. ‘Do I have a good resume?’, ‘What should I include in it?’, ‘Which format is the most preferred?’ and the list was endless.

That’s when a platform was created which would create the apt resume in just 2 minutes. Problem solved!

That later grew to also cater to other aspects of the job search process. From creating a resume to applying for a job, Wow.Jobs makes the process of finding a job in today’s world easy, efficient and simple. Minimalistic, intuitive and experimental in its design, Wow.Jobs uses bleeding edge technology and proprietary algorithms to give users a flawless experience.

People are accepting technology quicker than brands today. It explains how Gmail showed the way to Yahoo mail and how iPhone showed the way to Nokia. We need to adapt according to people and not vice versa.


Sakra World Hospital.

Website design for Sakra World Hospital is another example of how one can stay ahead in the game by making the most of the latest technology. It’s quite a frequent observation that most hospital websites look the same. It’s easy to tell that much vision and thought hasn’t gone into them.

What was done differently was putting the users first; a fact that most brands don’t consider. It involved no fancy stuff, but rather being straight to the point. The objective was to give priority to all the elements that make up a hospital. A design based on Gestalt Design psychology was thus put together, with immediate and most urgent features placed at the top folds and rest of the information towards the end. What’s more, an innovative solution called site speed acceleration was also embedded to make such a heavy website load like a dream, no matter what the device or internet speed. The moral of the story is to create design that supports function rather than simply being an element stagnant in space.


Dhruva.com.

Brands and clients are waking up to digital media. Well, better late than never! Gone are those days where you can satisfy users with few static web pages. Device fragmentation has become a nightmare; one has no idea which device users are browsing your website from. Dhruva, being India’s largest gaming companies, they had to sooner or later tap into this territory, to completely own it. That’s when Dhruva.com came about.

It’s important though to note that the web is not a standalone medium, when it comes to marketing. It has to work in tandem with the rest of the channels to ensure a seamless integration across branding activities. It’s an agreed fact that human beings have an irrational attraction towards happiness. It is always the first impressions that shape up the way you think about anything. That is why brands try really hard to create a great first impression. People do not have enough time today, and the time to attract them is decreasing down to the first few milliseconds.

In terms of a website, an attractive homepage is very important, to ensure you have the attention of the users. That’s why Dhruva.com opens with an HTML 5 video. It is also important to ensure that you deliver that first impression without any delay and without any flab. But this doesn’t mean that you create a web presence that doesn’t have any connection to the rest of your brand identity.

Published in Issue 25

Creative Gaga kicks off the year with an issue that asks the important questions, is it the web that’s leading the brands or the other way around? With 2014 witnessing an increase in brands investing in digital marketing, 2015 will only be bigger. We can say India has accepted the revolution, where more and more people are opening browsers to e-commerce, literally window shopping, and setting up shops online as well. The issue brings together renowned designers with digital experience, who discuss and throw light on the pros and cons of this change and where we possibly are headed with this in the future.

 

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Ranked among the top four Indian Design agencies by The Economic Times, VGC has designed the third and even more dynamic avatar of the Aditya Birla Group logo.

A new journey of the Aditya Birla Group (ABG) was marked by revamping the company branding. VGC lead and anchored this transformation across print and digital media. Keeping the original concept of the logo; a centrally placed sun radiating criss-cross beams as a symbol of hope, timeless values and boundless optimism of ABG. A partnership of 20 years between VGC & ABG has resulted in 3 logo developments for the company, each modernised to fit the legacy ABG.

The third avatar of the ABG logo is derived from the original logo itself (designed by VGC earlier), the brand language is a vibrant; instant connect to the look and feel of the logo mark and the values that it stands for. A small variation in the colour palette lifts the entire logo, showcasing the youthfulness of the company while staying rooted in their heritage expressing its richness and diversity.

The bright colorful sun at the base forms its solid foundation in a bolder and more forceful global version. The crisscrossing sunbeams connote the vibrant internal and external movement of energy; like a prism it refracts the multi-dimensional aspects of the Aditya Birla Group.

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 and

 

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Artist-painter Anna Zhilyaeva, tells us how the new medium of VR (virtual reality) in the field of sculpting and painting gives the possibility of infinite ways to express creativity on a three dimensional canvas, while still interacting with and keeping the observers deeply engrossed.

Anna combines her traditional artistic skills of painting and sculpting with computer graphics using softwares like Tilt-brush, Masterpiece and Anim VR to create a three-dimensional dynamic piece of art, which she calls ‘a painted sculpture’.

Different coloured virtual strokes create a painting, reminiscent of the impressionist style of oil paintings, revealing its hidden characteristics when viewed from different angles. Anna terms this as ‘Volumionism’.

In the present times, Anna says that design isn’t defined by form but by its creator and can be found in all walks of life. Nature was, is and will always be the most fabulous designer and the biggest inspiration.

Endless Possibilities in Virtual Reality

VR, alone and in combination with other softwares, can revolutionalise the world of art. Anna was impressed by the experimentation possibilities that VR provided to involve and surprise her spectators, and thus chose this as her medium of expression. Anna has been diverse in experimenting with VR and never felt the repetition of her art. She is looking forward to varied outputs of different talents working together on this platform.

Differentiating painting on canvas and VR, Anna feels that experience with photoshop and 3ds max helps in quick accustomisation to VR as a painting medium.

VR Has The Upper-Hand Today

There are various advantages of using VR such as re-sizing artwork as desired, floating in your work because of the absence of gravity, not needing physical assets like support structures, paints or canvas and after-cleaning!

The perception of work in the VR realm is very different from what’s seen on a normal screen and is not easy to show the process through a video.

VR is providing opportunities like experiencing different things without leaving the comfort of your home and transforming small and modest gallery spaces into huge and crazy ones.

There is a chance that VR might just completely overtake the human touch. But overuse leads to destruction and so maintaining equilibrium by interacting with and meeting actual human beings is important.

Future is Virtual with Real

Anna thinks the future will be living with holograms, AR and VR everywhere: schools, shops and transport. For instance, VR’s sensory stimulus can improve the efficiency of the education process by allowing to cruise a blood vessel, visit a growing foetus or even travel to another galaxy! VR won’t replace but will add value to the current institutions.

But, in these rapid-developing times, we need boredom and free-time to dream, imagine and create!

Anna suggests trusting yourself, taking interest in your work. In spite of ups-downs, likes-dislikes, keep working towards your dream to succeed. Reading, studying, watching films, visiting exhibitions, traveling and interacting with new people develops your personality and artistic expressions.

Be curious! Find your inspiration in anything you can!

Fascinated by Typefaces, Shibu P.G. guides us into the world of letters and fonts, where so much can be said even between the words.

The Oomph Factor.

Fonts have forged an almost unreal significance since the era of letter printing. There came the Serif, Sans Serif typefaces, which then evolved into Segoe, Frutiger, Univers, Helvetica and a multitude of other fonts that are presently innumerable. Inspiration from them to develop a new font was only found to be innate.

Finding New Font.

The font ‘Achi’ aims to outshine the regular fonts, radiating a unique style in the very first glance. The decision to choose only uppercase in the font stemmed from the desire to see it appear in bold and fascinating titles, phrases and of course brand names. With this in mind, the vision and purpose were
clearly set.

Carving a niche.

Creativity vocalises itself to each designer in its own specific manner, including through ink and paper – for example, letter-forming by hand being the first instinct. It is often the most simple of acts that finds itself being used as the common construction, shape or character, then applied to all letters in a font. In Achi’s case, it was the parallel line-formation and its spacing between each and every letter. Once a letter was shaped, the command over the font enabled executing an almost similar style to all other letters. Articulating the hand-drawn designs into the computer, using basic shapes and grids in Adobe Illustrator canvas, is time-consuming but effective, followed by polishing and tweaking as a final touch using Fontlab.

Published in Issue 39

As the festivity is all around, every brand or business is trying to impress the Indian audience. But what really works for us Indians? What is an Indian design? And how we can make designs for India? To understand it, we interviewed some Indian creatives who are successfully creating designs for the Indian audience. This issue of Creative Gaga is a light read for someone looking for inspirations or insights on Indian design and how the Indian audience can be enticed. So go ahead and order your copy or subscribe if you want to keep receiving a regular dose of inspirations!

 

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Visual Designer, Khushboo Shree, takes us through her process of doodling intricate patterns and connecting them to generate a larger image; one that depicts and symbolises the strength of their harmonious co-existence.

Always inspired by beauty and aesthetics as a concept, be it nature, people, patterns or poetry, Khushboo feels she’s just providing a hand-drawn pathway for others to experience a similar perception. Therefore, her idea behind the patterns and motifs is based on few simple elements like dots, border strings, tangles and their shared relationships.

There is no set process she follows. She first sketches with pencil, then starts the detailing process. The most crucial part though is ideation, which involves connecting various pieces together for a concept. Sometimes, she looks at a subject and draws; but mostly, it is part of her imagination.

Khushboo uses fine pigment pens to illustrate, and techniques like stippling and repetitive patterns to capture the details of a subject. The designs are a natural progression for her; once she’s drawn a basic framework in her mind, it all comes together during the execution, in a single flow.

Published in Issue 39

As the festivity is all around, every brand or business is trying to impress the Indian audience. But what really works for us Indians? What is an Indian design? And how we can make designs for India? To understand it, we interviewed some Indian creatives who are successfully creating designs for the Indian audience. 

 

This issue of Creative Gaga is a light read for someone looking for inspirations or insights on Indian design and how the Indian audience can be enticed. So go ahead and order your copy or subscribe if you want to keep receiving a regular dose of inspirations!

 

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Illustrator, Ernest Priego Martin, takes us through his approach behind making caricatures of various personalities. He speaks about the observation that goes into each of his works and the significance of watching carefully so as to achieve the best execution.

observation

According to you, what are the most important aspects of ensuring justice to represent the actual personalities of people through caricatures?

Ernest Martin: In the first place, the similarity is the most important. Without resemblance, there is no caricature. The thing that comes next is to not offend the person and still tell as much as possible about their personality. Keeping both these aspects in mind, it is rather important to maintain the apt balance that is desired in order to create an effective caricature.

How do you make sure you represent people in a way that viewers relate to the caricatures?

Ernest Martin: I seek that in a single glance the most singular characteristics of the person are known. Every character has his or her own unique traits that symbolise or signifies the person, whether they are the very physical features of the individual or characteristics in the conduct, temperament or personality. I also do that exercise when I look at the person and try to capture the first impression so as to work with it.

How do you decide on the proportion of features in different characters?

Ernest Martin: I do not really decide the proportion of features; as each person shows them through physical and psychological characteristics the proportions that I must emphasise upon in my work. It is something intuitive. It is just about amplifying or focusing on those particular aspects of the person that stands out and strengthen their persona i.e. features that describe their individuality and make them ‘who they are’.

What facets of people’s real-life personalities play a role in your depiction of them?

Ernest Martin: It depends on your assignment or your activity – if you are a politician, actor, musician, athlete, etc. That will influence the final result because it is not necessarily one aspect or the other in a person, but their entire self, which includes what they do, how they do it, their own unique style and expression in the course of the act and so on which defines them.

How have you grown and evolved your style, over the years?

Ernest Martin: There is no magic formula for growing and evolving one’s own style. It all comes down to the dedication, the number of working hours and the quality of effort that one puts into one’s craft, as is the case with just about anything that we choose to do and apply ourselves to. And, of course, learning to look and observe is vital as that is how we learn best.

What kind of changes would you like to see in your existing design trends related, in 2018?

Ernest Martin: I would like to work with other materials such as acrylic, and even merge them with digital – that would be interesting to see in terms of the various processes that could be applied and results that could be achieved. Though at the moment, I am comfortable with what I do and I see no need to change.

How do you think these changes will impact the process and perception of these designs?

Ernest Martin: I do not plan to change the way I draw by much, although that depends on the personal mood. The mood, context, requirement, application and such other aspects determine how a piece of work is executed and arrived at. Anyway, for now, I am rather satisfied with impressing the viewer in the same way as I did in 2017.

Published in Issue 41

Every year brings many opportunities and hopes along with celebrations. For this issue, we reached many visual artists and designers to know their expectations from the year 2018. This issue’s cover designer, Shreya Gulati is exceptionally impressed by the advancement of technology in design, especially how VR & AR has impacted new ways of creating. Honing and sharpening one’s skills is always a quest for every creative. So, whether you have many or none expectations for the year, this issue is a must-read.

 

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Representing people is no small task, especially when each one is a complex amalgamation of peculiar moods, styles, experiences and so on. Sketch artist, Prakash Thombre, readily takes on the challenge of transmitting real life onto the canvas through his various sketches of everyday personalities.

Observation is where it all begins.

Among the various subjects he sketches and draws, Prakash Thombre always finds Portraits to be most fascinating and interesting – mainly because he chooses his subjects from real life. Most of them, he captures on camera when traveling, later using them as references. He feels drawing Portraits helps to study people around us and connect with them – it’s like capturing their life narrative in lines and shades in the form of sketches. He has a keen interest in body language and face reading.

While observing people in real life, he generally tries to find the story about the person. Carefully observing the costumes, facial features, gestures, posture, etc. tells him an interesting story, which he then tries to capture in sketches and drawings. Aspects or elements like these help display and represent the core personality or temperament of the subjects. When he is observing a subject, he studies the minute details about their costumes, poses, gestures, expressions, facial features and so on. If everything compliments each other, it becomes an interesting story to capture in lines as a sketch or drawing.

The style is best when synonymous with spontaneity.

Prakash is not very comfortable with following one style or technique, nor is he comfortable with the typical copybook fundamentals of rendering. He likes to be spontaneous with the tools and its application, and prefers the lines to be free-flowing and organic in nature – nothing rigid, nothing attempted. Further, with regard to the style of sketching and colouring, the nature of lighting and the likes depends on the time and place.

Usually, on location, he chooses to use the pencil, finding it to be the most efficient tool to play with the line pressure and tonal values. Sometimes, he also uses fountain pens, but with flex and fude nibs, as they provide fantastic dynamic lines, depending on the pen angles and pressure. The sketch artist finds water-colour to be the most dynamic medium since he feels It gives a lot of flexibility with the way one applies and uses it.

Using fundamental tools and techniques is the base of foolproof skills.

If we take a good look at it, most of the designers today are inclined towards using smart devices to draw and sketch – like the iPad or Wacom Cintique – which Prakash feels cripple the true potential of the designer to draw with real tools. He rather opines that designers should use these tools but, at the same time, bring in and maintain the habit of drawing with hands and real tools, where they don’t have options like ‘Undo’ and the likes at their disposal. So, starting the design process with sketching using real tools will help explore and capture ideas quickly, and then explore further to refine it through Smart devices like the iPad or Wacom.

Published in Issue 41

Every year brings many opportunities and hopes along with celebrations. For this issue, we reached many visual artists and designers to know their expectations from the year 2018. This issue’s cover designer, Shreya Gulati is exceptionally impressed by the advancement of technology in design, especially how VR & AR has impacted new ways of creating.

 

Honing and sharpening one’s skills is always a quest for every creative. So, whether you have many or none expectations for the year, this issue is a must-read.

 

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The world of design is huge and every client’s need is different. As a versatile designer working for a broad spectrum with regards to commercial requirements, Rahul Arora is able to push his boundaries, explore more styles and learn in the process.

The ubiquity of the Internet and digital technology today has opened the door to the myriad of opportunities. As, the online platforms are transparent and great to showcase one’s work while discovering the work of others worldwide.

Versatile Designer
Koi Fish
Versatile Designer
Lazy Sunday Ride
Versatile Designer
Santa
Versatile Designer
Lovers

Style of the designer is a reflection of the client’s sensibility and vision. 

With diverse projects and context, each client has a different agenda and every script has its own requirements. Sometimes, the sensibilities of the clients vary too; some have a clear vision whilst some want to develop by working in tandem with the artist. Therefore, the foremost step is to discuss the script/ project with the art/creative directors to get an understanding of how they visualise the final product. Latching onto their concept, a versatile designer has to create styles portraying the same.

Versatile Designer
Castle on the rock
Versatile Designer
Sneeze

Characterisation is pivotal in a narrative. 

A characterisation is a gradual process that first involves understanding few pre-requisites before delving into its creation. As, context, appearance, ideology, and age are some of the factors that must be thought out prior to creation. So that, the exaggeration of these features amplifies the ‘key qualities’ which evoke interest. Relating the surrounding with desired detailing to enhance and portray the protagonist’s role conveys the storyline.

Versatile Designer
Minister of Universe
Versatile Designer
The butcher

Tackling different avenues.

Working on comics is like making a movie where you can convey stories through illustrations and words by generating it frame by frame. Studying the human anatomy and expressions is a must for a compelling narrative. Creating arresting illustrations that appeal to the readers, is challenging and a test for artist’s imaginations.

Versatile Designer
Drunken Monkey
Versatile Designer
Lift

Storyboards are the pre-visualisation of a story/film/ad-film. Here much importance is given to the character placements and the angles rather than the colour schemes in the suggested visuals.

 

Advertising, on the other hand, is completely distinct. With tight deadlines, the challenge is to prioritise and achieve the required quality in the given time frame.

Versatile Designer
The imp
Versatile Designer
Vampire

Colour schemes and mediums have their own charm.

They play a major role in bringing a story to life and convey the important aspects in the composition to set a mood of the narrative. Traditional mediums such as oils, poster colours, pastels, watercolours and pencil sketching often allow the designer to hone his skills and learn the intricacies.

 

When working commercially, a digital medium is much easier and straight-forward to execute. As you can easily start with a quick thumbnail that gives a glimpse of the idea which then can be elaborated to form the layouts and finally, pencilling and colouring it in Photoshop can be done post the client’s approval.

Versatile Designer
The Passenger
Versatile Designer
Demento

Published in Issue 39

As the festivity is all around, every brand or business is trying to impress the Indian audience. But what really works for us Indians? What is an Indian design? And how we can make designs for India? To understand it, we interviewed some Indian creatives who are successfully creating designs for the Indian audience. 

This issue of Creative Gaga is a light read for someone looking for inspirations or insights on Indian design and how the Indian audience can be enticed. So go ahead and order your copy or subscribe if you want to keep receiving a regular dose of inspirations!

 

Order Your Copy!