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India’s vividness is a great inspiration for designers galore. From culture and traditions to behaviour and insights, a plethora of concepts lie hidden in this multicultural land. Graphic Designer, Somdutt Sarkar, explores this rich culture to translate them into memorable design.

 

Embedded with cultural symbolism, his design combines Indian animals with a truck-art inspired appeal to create wall art that stands out. Quirky, native and attention grabbing, Somdutt’s artwork is laden with patterns, Indian motifs and meaning. Creating designs that satiate not only standards of aesthetics, but also practicality and timelessness, he says that designs can’t be simply a frivolous act of creation. “I try and incorporate some meaning in my designs, be it using an obscure art form or giving work to skilled craftsmen.” says Somdutt. Surely, his designs are not just show pieces.

 

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Tiger
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Buffalo
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Cow
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Lion
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Last few years, India has seen a steady rise in design consulting needs from new mushrooming businesses, commonly referred as ‘Startups’. These are not necessarily the love child of newbies but also some industry veterans or serial entrepreneurs taking on new business challenges, who understands the importance of design. Here, Ashish Deshpande explains the pros & cons of designing for startups.

startup
ASAP. CIIE-IIM-A incubated Bangaluru startup that created this “on the go” snack, design helped strategise and communicate a differentiating visual story. Pic by Elephant

A motivating enterprise environment in India, propelled by several industry & government initiatives has helped create a breed of entrepreneurs high on enthusiasm, technology savvy and willing to take the risk on new product service formats. Design is playing a crucial role in their journey as well as successes and there is increasing acceptance to the use of design in building a resounding brand & quality of product or service application. Paperboat is great example of a recent startup success story where one can observe design playing a key role. However, working with startups has its own unique hiccups and thrills.

startup
Paperboat. A memory drinks based startup where design added emotive value to the brand, identity, language, pack form function. Pic by Elephant

• CHALLENGES with Startups

1. MULTI-ROLE INVOLVEMENT

Let’s face it! Startups are ultra lean. Aligning business & technology solutions to a consumer-focused approach needs to be done at multiple levels. Since most startups, unlike the well-established corporate world, cannot afford multiple experts & agencies, a designer is seen as a ‘fix all’ for several needs. Involvement of a designer or design firm goes beyond a specific design assignment. Designer ends up playing a strategic role, trying to balance business strategy with design, brand image, product, pack, quality, vendor development, applications and point of sale, with key design language & marketing messages.

2. DISTINCT SOLUTION

Most startups are either technology or business focused. Design is a weakness and so is the ability to profile and understand end consumer. Startups tend to get committed too early to a particular tech or proposition without ascertaining appropriateness, uniqueness and distinction of their offering. Despite a new idea, most times, the end offering is neither distinct enough, nor is perceived value appreciable. This grave omission places the fledging business at risk from the word go.

3. INCREMENTAL APPROACH

Paucity of key in-house expertise & resources, especially funds, forces design to be undertaken in an incremental manner, stretching across months at times. Design implementation also takes place at a slow pace so it is difficult to see the full picture or measure the impact of design. A healthcare start up, setting up new format of hospitals launched the service care product with just the new brand identity, However, the hospital experience that would resonate with the brand was placed on hold due to lack of funds. The result was apparent. Customers never experienced the distinction in the hospital value proposition and never understood as to why they should adopt this new hospital chain.

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SynPhNe. Singapore based technology startup where design helped cutting edge tech become human through Industrial Design of Wearable stroke rehabilitation device focused on needs of patients. Pic by Elephant

• ADVANTAGES with Startups

1. CONTAGIOUS ENERGY

Startups are a happy lot. Usual work culture is hands-on and people come across eager to learn, share and help. It is great to work with synergies of such teams and be part of an exciting journey. The results reflect on the design output. Client meetings are less of drudgery, are participative and consequently more productive.

2. WILLING EXPLORERS

This is one place where Startups score. They are willing to play along as you explore, experiment & test. There is negligible blame game, no departmental silos or ‘mother of all’ presentation to the King of the corporate. Results are quick and decisions are usually part of a co-creative play. Funds are the only constraint but then frugal approach and ‘jugaad’ prototypes are more than welcome. This approach works wonders for the confidence of the design team.

3. CREATIVE SATISFACTION

Many startups are working in the healthcare, social impact, agri-tech and energy space. Just the sense of what your work will potentially achieve can layer the designer in you with goose bumps. Each startup is a new challenge, whether it is B2B or B2C, it gives a sense of new purpose and when design helps enable such opportunities, the result is very satisfying. Design as core to startups is understood by the fact that many new enterprises have designers as co founders. Designers in India will have to quickly adapt to this new scenario and draw out a process to work with the Startup eco system. This culture is here to stay.

startup
Plezmo. IOT based education platform that helps you learn program logic while you have smart fun. Pic by Plezmo
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Plezmo. IOT based education platform that helps you learn program logic while kids have smart fun. Pic by Plezmo
client

Published in Issue 37

Recent demonisation and changing Taxes has pushed most of us in planning our finances more seriously. So to answer some of the basic questions for designers, freelancers and creative studios, we interviewed some of the creative legends to guide and share their wisdom. The issue includes interactions with Preeti Vyas from VGC on ‘How to pitch for clients or retain the existing one’ and Ashish Deshpande from Elephant on ‘Challenges of working with a startup’, along with some best freelancers like Archan Nair, Shreya Shetty and Paul Sandip, sharing their knowledge of working with various clients. Also, Sachin Puthran from Thatzit.com gave a 10-point no-nonsense guide for studios to handle their finances. A must read, if you are planning for the financial year ahead or worried about your handling your money matter, this issue can give you much-needed insight and guide you to a better financial health of your business or freelancing.

 

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Anil KS trusts his instinct, essentially, while designing. Observing elements in his environment, he cultivates his techniques to simplistically present depictions that effortlessly spread smiles on people’s faces and make the world a happier place through his illustrations.

Illustrations
Tea Master. A fun illustration for a magazine featuring Kerala Tea shops.

For Anil, the design is a natural way of life, such that a person’s design sense and character are innately connected. Mainly guided by his love for traditional art forms, Indian mythology, sculpting and mural art, he’s always trying to bring his own style into his work of illustration, design, animation and typography.

Illustrations
Double. Amusing characters designed for an animation project.

Choosing a colour palette is a major aspect of Anil’s work, helping his illustrations to stand out and make easily relatable. Largely influenced by the living ambience and visual art forms in his hometown, Kerala, sharp and contrasting colours always make their way into in his work.

Illustrations
Parrot Man. An evocative illustration from a series of miniatures done for society6.

Trying to keep it easily readable in a silhouette, he starts out by scribbling the simplest, basic shapes, adding extra bits only later. Understanding the story behind the character helps in deciding the nature of the character. Anil always tries putting his personal touch into his work, preferring whimsical illustrations with humorous concepts and cheerful colours that make both, viewers and him, happy. That sounds like a win-win.

Horse Man. A colourful, whimsical and funny character designed for a project in 2010.

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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Onassis Cultural Centre, a space that brings together people to express and discover diverse art and contemporary culture, needed a visual identity that translated the same. And Beetroot Design shows us how it’s done.

Brief/ Challenge:

Onassis Cultural Centre, a platform for artists to come together to showcase and discover contemporary bold art, required an equally bold visual identity for the season 2017-18. This Athens based institution needed the identity to be open and relevant to everyone, thus reflecting the core idea behind OCC.

Solution:

Beetroot Design Group, a multi-award winning, Thessaloniki based design firm, explored and created a visual identity for OCC, that is made for everyone, and yet so unique. Beetroot achieved thus by putting together all the typographies from the publications and events of the season, thus portraying them all under one visual identity. For this, the firm specially created software, Flow Type, which is now available for free. The software helped handle the high volume of typographies and played a key role in their manipulation, thus resulting in expressive free-flowing words.

The overall visual identity is an explosion of energy, colours, movement and boldness. Each piece of work is vastly different in its expression, but it is beautiful how they all come together to narrate a single story.


Client: Onassis Cultural Centre
Design Studio: Beetroot Design


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Designing by developing personalities is one of the best ways to create relatable, relevant and successful campaigns, and Saatchi & Saatchi Integrated Solutions shows us how with the Nobile’s ‘Hang Loose’ campaign for the wakeboards.

Brief / Challenge:

Nobile, a Polish manufacturer is worldwide critically acclaimed for its adventure sports products like skis, wakeboards, snowboards and kiteboards. In 2017, Nobile wanted to engage young wakeboarders with their products. For this, they needed a new upbeat and relatable campaign that would catch one’s attention.

Solution:

Saatchi & Saatchi created the ‘hang loose’ concept to encourage wakeboarders to look inwards and identify with their uniqueness. For this, the agency put together five distinct personalities as themes and created five wakeboard designs around them. Each of the personalities, and thus designs, are youthful, contemporary and fun.

 

‘Shaka’ captures the elements of our childhood imagination. ‘Brah’ talks of brotherhood and adventure. ‘Aloha’ encompasses spritely feminine characteristics. ‘Akaw’ illustrates the yearning for adventure and discovery. ‘Bee3’ displays the fierce need for freedom and individuality.

Credit:

Agency

Saatchi & Saatchi IS, Poland

Client

Nobile Sports, Poland

Creative Director

Michał Pawłowski

Design Director

Rafał Nagiecki

Art Directors

Anna Caban
Bartosz Morawski
Kamil Bugno
Rafał Nagiecki

Retouching

Aleksander Bieroński
Bartosz Morawski
Kamil Bugno

3D Artist

Bartosz Morawski

Senior Copywriter

Marta Frączek

Account Director

Jakub Krawczyk

Account Supervisor

Anna Borysewicz

CEO

Malgorzata Rosiak-Brawanska

Marketing and Communication Officer 

Maciej Jaźwiecki

Brand Manager

Dominika Jagodzinska

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Why do we love illustrations so much? Is it because it gives us a different perspective? Or is it the yearning for something spectacular? Maybe it’s simply to make one stop and think. These 3D installations by Peter Tarka, is all this and more. Each installation in the series takes different principles of design and explores the possibilities. The tension between the various objects in each installation creates something wonderful.

 

Peter Tarka is an art director and illustrator based in London who has worked with several renowned agencies like Saatchi & Saatchi, and for eminent clients like Apple, Honda, etc.

 

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We all look for it. From a product to a person, quality is what stands out. It’s what is most desirable. “Design without quality is like mathematics without the number zero”, believes Creative Director, Avi Sehmi. And its importance multiplies when you’re starting up a design business. Here, he tells us how quality and other factors contribute to calculated growth of your business and you as a designer.

Reemerge - Digital Art Creativegaga
Shivinity - Digital Art Creativegaga

Achieve Quality And You Can Achieve Anything

For a design business, quality work always comes first and foremost followed by networking events and the word of mouth. To hook a new client, the best way to move forward is to sit with your team and whip together a solution based pitch deck, with a simple and consistent follow-up schedule. The rule is to not push too hard or you will push them off.

King Brach Kaiju - Digital Art Creativegaga
Spuddle - Digital Art Creativegaga

Practice Makes A Master

We’re born with talent within us and inspirations around us. These vary from designer to designer. One may wish to portray an abstract world and the other might want to tell a story through accentuated body language and a surreal setting. But the question is, ‘How do you do it?’.

 

Well, learning is a step by step journey. It’s a constant dance of finessing the basics’ the composition, the tone, the quality of light, the story etc. From Wacom & Adobe to Autodesk & Pixologic, digital design software and programs is where the magic lies. Master the magic, and there’s no stopping you.

 

And of course, it’s not just what’s within the measures of your screen but also the giant world around you. Travel. Experience various cultures. Discover different designs and art forms. Whether it’s African tribal art or the Bauhaus of Germany, notice the distinction, notice the similarities.

 

Remember, your mind makes connections that are unique to you and then you get to integrate that understanding and express that in a way that’s true to you. The process is nowhere near complete as it’s a lifelong mission to patiently work away at your craft.

Mechsplorer - Digital Art Creativegaga
Asia Borg - Digital Art Creativegaga

Every Creative Mind Needs To Be A Technology Mind As Well

The design is solution based and with modern day analytics and AB testing, there are ways to measure engagement and success rates. Keeping up to date with the trends in technology and working on the way you see the world around you is not an option, but absolutely necessary. Art is open to opinion and one will always feel that there are better, worse, stranger, even cooler artists out there. In that space its better to see how others are applying the principles and techniques and apply that understanding on improving the expression of your vision. Remember, it’s not a rat race but a lifelong process. Thinking otherwise will end up exhausting you too soon.

Trod - Digital Art Creativegaga
Puppetite - Digital Art Creativegaga

Never Forget To Work For Yourself Too

Over time, you will realize that it’s not all about you and your ideas but rather about facilitating the thinking of the team, making them work cohesively and passionately, to come to the best solution. That is actual growth. With such growth comes pressure and responsibility; not only to handle a team but to also manage a client. To stay in touch with creativity and innovation, always present an alternate route to the client if you believe it adds value to them. That’s another thing that often times, the client will stay bull headed in the pitch meeting. Some may appreciate the extra mile you walked, some may totally disregard the idea. Hence, it’s always beneficial to have an outlet, like digital painting or music. It keeps you sane and creatively active. That’s your space for unleashing ideas and experimenting.

Turtleopolis - Digital Art Creativegaga
Issue-23- Digital Art Creativegaga

Published in Issue 23

The issue explores a topic which is close to every designer, the Business of Design. We try to understand from the experienced ones that when is the right time to open own studio and what more you should get in your toolbox before taking the plunge! We had interactions with many talented studio founders like Rajesh Dahiya, Archan Nair, Ishan Khosla, Prasun Mazumdar and Anupam Tomer. Also featuring some of the best talents around the world such as Martin Grohs from Germany and Avi Sehmi from Canada, this issue not only provide answers to many questions but also initiate many new ones to explore further! We hope you will enjoy exploring the possibility of your studio with this issue.

 

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Forget technology for a while and try lifting that fountain pen or a paint brush. Dip it into the world and paint that stroke. It feels different. The magic that hands creates can never be matched by technology. Calligraphy is one such area of design where the old way rules. Graphic Designer Anup Shah does wonders with delicate letterforms to depict stories and create an aura. He tells us more about his meditative designs and his gratitude for the guidance from his father, Kiran Shah and calligraphy mentor Achyut Palav.

You are the World You are in.

In most instances, the environment we grow up in determines the likelihood of what one chooses to pursue in life. If the ambience around you since childhood has been papers, ink, books on the design they become your muse and instil a sense of curiosity that soon gives wings to your talent and sets you on a path of a lifetime – the path of a designer.

 

Such exposure is beneficial and offers a great platform to learn from experienced people. A creative environment is important for any designer and for those growing up to become one.

If you Think You’re Right, You are Right.

This should be the attitude of any designer in today’s world. Self-doubt is your biggest critique and is unnecessary. The process of design can be described to be consisting of the following key words – See, Think, Imbibe, Explore and Execute.

These five simple words can easily be the constitution that dictates the actions and behaviours of any artist. If one is sensitive to things happening around and make a conscious effort to capture the essence by reflecting them in their work, then one can say that half the battle is won.

 

And what this philosophy translates into is the fact that one need not convince anybody about what one’s work says because people will automatically understand and know.

Do Away with Technological Dependence.

For today’s tech and net savvy youth, it’s imperative to understand how this may be hampering their design growth at times. Because what technology is doing is only killing creative strength by preventing thought and only allowing you to polish, modify and execute things which are already there.

 

Originality is losing its charm. Back in the days, designers would create 50 different options not variations to create a single logo. Today, it’s rare to see such an instinct. It’s all about speed now, it’s all about being the fastest. What this is doing is making them less designer and more operator.

Calligraphy is Relative.

Every single alphabet has its own sound and characteristic. For example, ‘L’ relating to famous singer Lata Mangeshkar paints an imagery of something soothing, soft and silky whereas if ‘L’ was depicting Laden, it would be read as something bold, rough and wrong.

 

Hence, the letters never communicate on their own but always in conjunction with a central element or subject. Also, for those taking up calligraphy and typography, it’s important to make such hints as subtly as possible. In other words, create a story by animating letterforms to depict the theme so that when simplified forms mixed, creates an expression. Understand that every stroke should have a meaning.

Published in Issue 30

Since stone age when individuals were identified with certain marks, branding has always been an integral part of our life. It has evolved so much that now every success can be connected to great branding behind it, but still brand creation has always been a mystery. We interviewed the branding experts, who are behind some of the very successful brands. In brief, this issue is packed with branding and typography design experts who can help you solve the mystery of the brand creation! Order your copy here!

 

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Don’t jump to the conclusions and enter into a world of assumptions, wait till The End, know the reality and live on peaceful terms for the time after completion of a project. Anuj Prasad from Desmania shares his insights about this phase, the last mile, as he calls it.

What is the Last Mile?

It’s often seen that designers and clients start getting flustered when the project is on the brink of completion. This is the last mile and the toughest to handle, because at this stage mind is in an anxious state to complete the project and get on with the next one.

 

Most designers feel the euphoria during creative phases and lose steam as the project moves into technical and execution mode.Perhaps, the last mile is the most important mile in any passage of activity that must come to a conclusive end. It is also the most frustrating mile as one is almost there but yet not.

It is the same feeling as your plane circling around before landing or your train parked at the outer locations as it crawls to the destination.

 

Such situations make the virtual time expand to disproportionate dimension, creating a good likelihood of losing cool. Flaring up at this point is so obvious, while the challenge is to let the positive energies flow steadily.

Tough to Handle? Not Really!

Patience and perseverance is the answer.

 

It is like making a painting with a hazy idea and then evolving it into something meaningful. Yet the final strokes make all the difference. Believe it or not, but a masterpiece is differentiated from an average piece of art based on the final strokes.

The same holds good in design, sustained energy to keep improving till the end of the project, penetrating down to tweak the final details, small little modifications and refinements make all the difference.

 

Being open to inputs from the stakeholders, while responding in judiciously is an art that each one of us needs to master consciously as our experience grows.

After-Effects of the Last Mile

The last mile has the power to break long-lasting relationships. Primarily because it creates the slip between ‘completion with contentment’ and ‘completion for the heck of it’.

 

A small advisory to the team to be prepared for this phase is a good beginning. Thereafter, project managers need to take on the mantle with a focussed aim to exceed the expectations of the client at the time of completion.

The intent should be to pair with the client and run the last mile as a true companion to touch the finishing line with aplomb and give a high five to each other!

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Critics, admirers and friends have in unison called his work controlled explosion of energy and movement. Tom J Manning believes this is true as it is his conscious effort to evoke positive and creative energy through his works. He presents an account of his design beliefs, thoughts and practices.

Evoking Positive and Creative Energy
Nike Wild
Personal Project
Mind Over Matter

Moving Images Are More Alive Than Static

I am fascinated by the flow of time, particularly the moments that may never be repeated. I also realise that nothing is ever truly still. With these themes in mind I make very quick strokes using special custom brushes. Smudging and fast scratchy pencil lines add to this effect. The theme of movement relates to the energy in my work. I always add simple lines to the outside of an image to make it ‘move’ even if it is portrayed as a static object.

Vinyl Cover
Evoking Positive and Creative Energy
Vinyl Cover
Repair Album

Contrast Adds Depth

I like to keep my images bright. That’s why I use vibrant colours, mainly orange. I find that I can isolate the brightness of the colours by using grayscale, which makes them stand out almost like highlights. I tend to work in darker colours first before layering brighter colours on top. I feel that this helps to create a more indepth kind of image.

Personal Project
INTERNAL CONFUSION.
Personal Project
Love and Pride
MUSE BOOK COVER.

Connect Comes From Positive Emotions

Most of my work is open to interpretation, especially the abstract work. When I do portraits I want the audience to understand who the person is and what they do and perhaps a glimpse into their personality. I also try to invoke happiness, content, hope, sadness and change within my images. My style always attempts to make good out of the bad, light out of the dark. Quick and vibrant strokes of colour represent that creative and positive energy.

Alberto De Tenis Illustrations
Alberto De Tenis Illustrations

Free To Pick, Think And Draw

In nature you can see so many things moving, so many colours and varieties. I pick them up in abundance and use them in my work. Like, the quick strokes in my paintings are inspired from Leafy Sea Dragons. Or, the orange comes from the colour of the Malay Lacewing Butterfly. More importantly, I find mixed media to be free and expressionistic which is perfect for my style and the themes I wish to communicate. It also allows me to keep my work traditional and raw. Often a single image could contain as many as 15 different media all mixed together with a digital finish.

Linkin Park, Musical Illustrations
Linkin Park, Musical Illustrations
Linkin Park, Musical Illustrations
Linkin Park, Musical Illustrations
Linkin Park, Musical Illustrations

Published in Issue 16

We always wish we had someone to show us the right way of doing things when we were starting our professional journey. And that’s why we have based this issue on graduates. The cover feature is an ensemble of advice from top names of the industry. We have also showcased few talented fresh graduates from across the country, keeping with the theme. You’ll find Tom J Manning and Pallavi Sen share their international exposure as well as insights behind their unique approach. Also featuring Shreya Shetty, a prominent concept artist, who shares the secret behind the believable characters she creates. She believes, with practice and patience, anyone can be a good artist.

 

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