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The young partners of Design Studio Hawraf, shut down their studio with grace and dignity, and let the world into the inner workings of their business.

When you dream of establishing your own design studio, you’ve got your entry into the industry all planned out. Careful thought is put into the business model, marketing strategy, and everything else required to begin. Right till the boat is sailing, the blue print is in place.

But you would never meticulously plan the ‘shutting down’ of your design studio, right? It just seems so bizarre, especially since the goal always is to expand and soar higher. But the death of design firms and companies is a reality. We see far more businesses disappearing than actually making it big. In such a scenario, wouldn’t it make sense to plan the end of your studio as well, instead of simply fading into the background?

As outlandish as that may sound, the New York-based design studio, Hawraf, did just that.

 

Hawraf was the result of a collaborative relationship between Andrew Herzog, Carly Ayres and Nicky Tesla, who worked together at Google Creative Lab. They founded Hawraf in 2016, and within a short period made quite an impact on the design industry. Hawraf is particularly infamous for its bold and interactive work, and pushing boundaries through lateral design approaches. Hawraf began on the ethos of transparency and increased engagement with users. They believed in being an open book, allowing the whole world to watch as they experimented, failed, learnt, and finally found radical solutions to design problems. An important principle that drove them is questioning conventional solutions and looking for ideas that are most relevant to the problem.

Here is an example of their out-of-the-box ideas. Andrew Herzorg once went around his neighbourhood glueing moss onto fire hydrants and subway stops. It’s a known adage that moss grows on the north side of a wall. As an experiment with wayfinding, Andrew put this idea to practice and pushed the boundaries of traditional design practice.

Design Studio Hawraf

Within no time their design work was recognized and greatly appreciated globally. Andrew was named as one of Print Magazine’s 15 under 30 New Visual Artists, and Carly was named one of the 100 Most Creative People in Business by Fast Company, apart from the very many accolades they received.

Design Studio Hawraf

Yet, early this year the partners announced the end of Hawraf. What is interesting is that their decision to shut down had little to do with the studio success and more to do with their personal goals. After working together and watching the studio unfold and evolve, the partners soon realized that their personal ambitions were misaligned. With this awareness, they took the bold decision to shut down now and go with a bang, instead of struggling to make it work till the business turned sour.

Design Studio Hawraf

But what made this decision truly amazing, is the way they executed their exit. Hawraf was built on the principle of transparency and interaction. Keeping this in mind, they published their internal documents in a public google drive folder, for anyone to refer to.

The public folder serves as a guide to anyone looking to start on their own. Right from proposal decks, to pricing strategy spreadsheets, to do’s and don’ts of company culture, press tips, profits and losses, founders’ values; everything that an entrepreneur would encounter at the start of the venture is addressed in the folder.

In 2016, Hawraf entered the design industry and took the world by storm. And now as they shut down, they leave with equal style.

Design Studio Hawraf
CURRENT ISSUE
Creative Gaga - Issue 48

 

The animation industry in India has come a long way and has a long way to go. Renowned animation filmmaker, Suresh Eriyat, gives us the ground reality of the industry today, and where the future lies. In the process, he also teaches us a few things that make the animation world go round.

The Indian Animation Legend, E Suresh, has been a pioneer in storytelling and animation through films. He currently heads his animation studio Studio Eeksaurus. He was the first to launch clay animation commercials in India. A few feathers in his cap include creating Amaron battery advertisements, music video Bindu re Bindu, the Simpu series for Channel V, MTV Poga series, Johnny Bravo goes to Bollywood, Levis Slim vs. Slim, and so many more.

His short films, Fisherwoman and Tuk Tuk, and Tokri, both won National Film Award for Best Non-Feature Animation Film, apart from winning almost 60 national and International awards at various festivals with over 150 official selections globally.

CG. Where does animation stand today in India? Is there a gap in the understanding of what the animation industry encompasses?

Suresh. There are several gaps in the way animation is understood in India. Internationally ‘animation filmmaker’ and an ‘animator’ are similar. There the animator is synonymous to a filmmaker who uses animation to make his/her films bringing in a holistic process to the film making. In India that is not necessarily the case. Firstly, the animation is associated with cartoons in India. Beyond that, it is widely believed to simply be a technique. And this is used in the Indian animation industry mainly to provide a service, as a BPO format. Unfortunately here animation is seen as a skill set equivalent to learning software or a tool, and not as a conceptual ability of a person creating ideas to tell a story. It is not seen as the overall process.

Another misconception is that animation films don’t require direction/a director. These are all misnomers because it is not yet a popular medium here. The way it is taught or talked about by some of the academies in India, also adds to the confusion and misleading terms.

CG. What do you think it would take to change this perception in India?

Suresh. It would take more exposure to see these films, and gathering a better understanding of what animation is, for this change to occur. This will eventually lead to recognition for animation and its various forms. The evolution needs to happen where people become more aware of animation.

 

In the West, people have been with animation for many decades now, so they understand all that it encompasses. They understand that it is a tool to tell powerful stories. In India, the animation is still young. I am sure in another 10 years we will be where all these countries are in terms of understanding of the medium.

CG. When you are making your films, what sort of target audience are you looking at?

Suresh. I make both short films and advertising films. Both have different agendas. Advertisement films have a definite purpose, either to spread awareness about a brand or convey a message. In both cases, a behavioral change is desired. The brief and objective are very clear and the process involves a lot of research. We go by the design process where there is a defined problem, a defined target audience, and a very clear message to convey. The advertising films have a wider reach in that sense.

My short films, on the other hand, aren’t targeted to a market audience. Instead, they are targeted to a crowd who are artistically inclined and who appreciate the process. The films also target the festival audience, so that they see what India is capable of creating. It is important for Indians to not just be perceived as a service but also as great storytellers.

CG. Where does India stand on the global platform in the animation industry and film making?

Suresh. At the moment, we are not considered capable. Nobody thinks India will make good content. Right now, there are only a handful of companies that are known to create content in India. But the majority lot of animation professionals is complacent about creating something original. We need to tell more stories and make more films to be put on the map.

CG. In your work, how extensively do you use the design process?

Suresh. We often use the design process in the craft of film making. Through this process, we arrive at the most appropriate form and direction to convey the story in the best way possible. Different production houses are bracketed for making a certain type of content. It took us some time to establish ourselves without being labeled in that manner, and instead to be perceived as a design-driven production house.

We are known to work with any medium in order to make the idea stronger. I have directed and produced close to 500 films now, and I don’t consciously try to come up with a new medium, but somehow that has always happened. Each of my films has a unique look and feel to them. This is mainly the result of the design process that we use to strengthen the idea we want to convey.

CG. Creative professionals often begin to make the same kind of work, and then get stuck to that style. How did you escape that?

Suresh. While making films we first look at the story and then the form. We never begin by deciding the form. Many people tend to decide the form first thus stick to it. Sometimes clients go to them because they are known for a particular narrative style or a form that they specialize in.

Creating work with similar form is understandable because of our influences. We see things around us and try to include them in our work. But this is exactly why the design process is important. It diminishes the tendency of aping something or following a trend.

 

Our attempt has always been to push the form further than the predictable and strive to make it more cutting edge and niche.

CG. What makes a good story? What is good storytelling?

Suresh. No story is good or bad. It depends on how memorable a story is. And this depends on how engaging and captivating the audience is by it. And all this comes down to how the story is told. Majority stories have a similar pattern, the intro, the middle, the climax, the end, etc., but how you manage to tell the story in a captivating way is what counts. For example, the story of Ramayan and Mahabharat has essentially been the same. But the style of narration has changed with time. Every story can be told in many ways. Narrating it in a way relevant to the context is important.

CG. What is the importance of humour in storytelling?

Suresh. While narrating a story, the audience needs to feel good about it, and humour is a sure shot way to do that. It lightens up the mood and adds a twist to look at reality. Laughter is definitely a great ingredient.

CG. An example of great use of humour is the awareness campaign for Mumbai women that you had created. Can you tell us a little more about that, and how humour worked there?

Suresh. The Mumbai police claimed that in Mumbai, anywhere a woman is in distress, all she needs to do is call the hotline, and the police will reach her in within minutes. This was something they were proud of, but when I checked around, no one knew the number. So I decided to create a campaign to create awareness.

We did not want to go by the obvious approach of showing women morose or stressed ‘victims’, because that does not work at all. Through the communication we wanted women to feel empowered and get the courage to face the world. We wanted them to imagine the hotline was their weapon.

 

The beauty of this campaign is that the way it was executed, still makes it relevant. The form has a cartoon look, but artistic styling sets it apart.

CG. Many youngsters look forward to a career in animation. But Indian parents are very concerned about how lucrative this industry is. How would you respond to that?

Suresh. The animation is unlike mainstream fields like medicine, today in India. Instead, it leans towards art and culture, and these are essential elements of the fabric of society.

 

Another thing is, if you empower a student with animation, you are making him independent because animation films can be made single-handedly. It is like writing a novel. Just by investing time in it, sharpening your skills and exploring different mediums, a career can be made out of it.

If you are good at it, work will always come your way; because we are living in a time where the demand for entertainment is going to grow. Earlier the platforms were limited, but now there are so many non-linear avenues for accessing entertainment like Netflix and Prime. There is a lot of content that needs to be made available, because not it is turning into a library of content. In that sense, there will never be a dearth of work.

 

Apart from this, there are so many other emerging sectors connected with animation like the education sector, AR and VR experiential environments, simulations, etc. There is a tremendous scope and I don’t see parents regretting this in the future.

CG. Tell us why you see specialization as a danger today.

Suresh. Nowadays the younger generations are too focused on a specialization. It is necessary to know peripheral aspects that could influence art or the specific subject one is into. When you are thinking of a story or making a film it requires a certain sensibility towards what is going on politically, socially, and environmentally what is happening in the country and outside. Youngsters today find this irrelevant. They focus so much on their specialization that the ideas they give are no more holistic. When you are a specialist, the danger is not being aware of the bottom line issues.

There is always a contradiction between generalization and specialization. The organic path would be specialization after generalization. I am talking purely technically, but in life also, if you have a wider opinion on things, you have a much better view on a specific topic.

Creative Gaga - Issue 46 - Cover

Published in Issue 46

This issue is focused on, how to design for kids, bundled with articles full of inspirations, advice and unique point-of-views from the veterans of the animation industry, illustrators, photographers, artists and many more. So, order your copy or subscribe, before print copies run out and enjoy reading this issue!

 

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CURRENT ISSUE
Creative Gaga - Issue 48

 

The journey to a successful career in the animation can be thrilling and overwhelming. Renowned animation film maker, Vaibhav Kumaresh, tells us about the story behind his success and the establishment of Vaibhav Studios.

Lamput TV Series

Vaibhav Kumaresh has a unique unmatched style to his work. But Vaibhav traveled a long way before he met his success.

Animation
Lamput TV Series

Vaibhav completed his 10th grade, and then went on to pursue a 5-year graduation course in Fine Arts. In 1990 it was common to skip the 12th grade, and his parents were very supportive. Here he was introduced to drawing, sculpting, painting, printmaking, and photography; and specialised in Applied Arts. Later, Vaibhav joined NID where he explored and learned about the beautiful medium of animation.

Animation
Simpu for channel V

After NID, he joined Famous House of Animation in 1998. Animation legend, E. Suresh, was Vaibhav’s senior here and was assigned the task of setting up an animation studio at Famous. Together they produced several animation films. It was an exciting phase for Vaibhav.

In 2003 a lovely children’s film came Vaibhav’s way. He chose to take it, which meant he had to leave his job. Vaibhav confesses that it was the scariest yet happiest decision of his life. He joined forces with his wife, Suranjana, a product designer from NID, and Vaibhav Studios was formed. As projects kept flowing in, there was no looking back.

Animation
Nick Ident, Idli Song.

Vaibhav Studios broadly takes up two types of projects. First is commissioned work, primarily TV commercials where an advertising agency approaches them with a ready script. The Studio then interprets it in their own way, followed by direction and production. Second is when they build their own original IP and pitch those ideas and concepts to different clients. In the past 4 years, they have primarily worked on creating many original IP.

Animation
Buladi Horny Lovers

Vaibhav uses a variety of techniques and mediums to create films. He uses stop motion which is all physical materials – clay, wire, cloth, paper. For the traditional hand-drawn animation techniques, he uses paper, pencil, markers, erasers, correction pens, paints, and charcoal. Sometimes digital tools like Adobe Photoshop, Flash (now called Animate) to draw and animate are also used. For the digital 3D animation films Vaibhav uses Autodesk Maya and After Effects. At times his studio also shoots live action and mixes them with animated footage. Vaibhav believes the open source software, Blender, is soon emerging as an immensely powerful and artist-friendly tool for animation.

But Vaibhav adds that software is merely a tool. Using it does not guarantee one a good end product. The magic lies in the hands of the user of the tool.

Nick Ident. Mom And Brat.

Vaibhav recommends ‘Kampung Boy’ by Lat, as a great book with a beautifully illustrated story to read. He also recommends a few inspiring animation short film recommendations, namely, Madagascar – Carnet de Voyage by Bastien Dubois, Chick by Michal Socha, Father & Daughter by Michael Dudok de Wit

Creative Gaga - Issue 46 - Cover

Published in Issue 46

This issue is focused on, how to design for kids, bundled with articles full of inspirations, advice and unique point-of-views from the veterans of the animation industry, illustrators, photographers, artists and many more. So, order your copy or subscribe, before print copies run out and enjoy reading this issue!

 

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CURRENT ISSUE
Creative Gaga - Issue 48

 

Omkar Shinde

With a dream, desire and determination to establish his own identity and to be recognised as an illustrator, Omkar Shinde has let the creativity packed in his mind take shape and evolve as tangible forms of art-work, only and only to reach a step closer to achieving his vision.


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This issue is focused on, how to design for kids, bundled with articles full of inspirations, advice and unique point-of-views from the veterans of the animation industry, illustrators, photographers, artists and many more. So, order your copy or subscribe, before print copies run out and enjoy reading this issue!

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Vijaya Laxmi

A fruit of the liberal school education from the small town of Akola, Vijaya Laxmi never faced any interference from her friends, family or teachers when attempting to create art. Realising that art could be pursued as a career along with the help of professional degrees, she is now an established independent artist exhibiting her works in famous galleries across India.


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This issue is focused on, how to design for kids, bundled with articles full of inspirations, advice and unique point-of-views from the veterans of the animation industry, illustrators, photographers, artists and many more. So, order your copy or subscribe, before print copies run out and enjoy reading this issue!

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Ashwini Bharadwaj

An illustrator and graphic designer Ashwini Bharadwaj graduated from L.S. Raheja School of Art. After working for four years in the design industry, she moved on to take freelance projects across various verticals. Through her work she looks to expand her design knowledge and explore a range of design styles. Ashwini’s interest lies in minimalistic design or art forms.


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This issue is focused on, how to design for kids, bundled with articles full of inspirations, advice and unique point-of-views from the veterans of the animation industry, illustrators, photographers, artists and many more. So, order your copy or subscribe, before print copies run out and enjoy reading this issue!

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Vineesh Viswanath

A senior art director with DDB Mudra Group, Bangalore. Vineesh Viswanath graduated at College of Fine Arts, Trivandrum, after which he went on his journey of over four years in the creative field.


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This issue is focused on, how to design for kids, bundled with articles full of inspirations, advice and unique point-of-views from the veterans of the animation industry, illustrators, photographers, artists and many more. So, order your copy or subscribe, before print copies run out and enjoy reading this issue!

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Vaibhav Kumaresh

Vaibhav Kumaresh is the driving force of his company Vaibhav studios. He, along with his battalion of talented people work towards creating animated content for Indian audiences, with all their heart.


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This issue is focused on, how to design for kids, bundled with articles full of inspirations, advice and unique point-of-views from the veterans of the animation industry, illustrators, photographers, artists and many more. So, order your copy or subscribe, before print copies run out and enjoy reading this issue!

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Dhimant Vyas

The veteran artist and animation film designer, Dhimant Vyas, an alumnus of the National Institute of Design (NID), has recently worked with Zynga games India. Also, worked on famous Shaun the sheep series with the leading academy award winning animation studio, Aardaman Animation Ltd., U.K.


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Suresh Eriyat - Animation in Education | Creative Gaga

The renowned Animator, has been a pioneer in storytelling and animation through films. Suresh Eriyat heads Studio Eeksaurus, and is known for introducing clay animation to India. Some of his well recognised work include the Amaron battery advertisements, the Bindu re Bindu music video, and Levis Slim vs. Slim.


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This issue is focused on, how to design for kids, bundled with articles full of inspirations, advice and unique point-of-views from the veterans of the animation industry, illustrators, photographers, artists and many more. So, order your copy or subscribe, before print copies run out and enjoy reading this issue!

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