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Annada Menon
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It is important to be motivated and be inspired as an illustration. Annada N. Menon shares some of the tried and tested way to keep creating and growing.

Illustration is one of the most expressive and experimental modes of design and/or art. As an illustrator myself I find it a medium to not just communicate a story of my own life but of others as well. There are times though that I am not able to do so or worry about how I will stretch my career as an illustrator over the next 30-40 years. If you have symptoms of sweaty palms, procrastination, clients who want you to work for exposure syndrome, competition and a shelf full of empty sketchbooks.

First, let me share a few things I did to motivate myself and hope these simple steps hopefully can help.

The most important thing, take it slow. There tends to be a point due to the influence of social media where most artists want to get famous too quickly. And also want to mint money within a month of making the decision to become an illustrator. Well it definitely doesn’t work that way. Mostly reduce their shelf life and the will to learn or experiment with techniques to execute work.

Motivated - Illustration by Annada Menon

So take sometime, every artist makes their mark if the process consists of patience and positivity. If you feel you can’t find your own way, join a studio, learn the tricks from a professional and discover yourself. You can also collaborate with fellow freelance illustrators.

Next, get inspired but don’t copy. I have observed that people tend to feel the need to follow market trends. Never churn your creative juices on something you don’t sympathise or empathise with.

For client work, stand your ground always on providing only original work. If it’s inspired from somebody’s work credit them if you post it on social media. Don’t obtain professional or personal gains through another person’s idea. The art world is chaotic already and you don’t need to throw in a copied work into the mix. The joy of creating something of your own makes your heart swell with joy and helps you move forward always.

Freelance - Annada Menon

This is one of my favorite points also something I am trying myself to achieve is to be versatile. I feel in the market today the biggest element that creates chaos or confusion is an artist wanting to find his/her own style. Finding your own style has its one pro that is you can turn your work into a unique language and you get recognised for it.

The con is it restricts you. One may become too comfortable with it. So indulge yourself in art books, movies etc to inspire yourself and constantly experiment with mediums to create an inventory of content and styles.

Know your worth. This is a climb of time and patience. Being offered too less for a project or nothing at all brings an artist down the most. As a freelancer, this is the most challenging and stressful part to figure out. Don’t shy away from getting help. Ask fellow artists on how to go about charging a client.

The guidance is a great push towards you ultimately landing a project of your choice and exclusive of bargains. Just keep this in mind, materials to execute your work digitally or traditionally have to be bought or maintained. Let’s keep general bills mind as well. Though it is a push towards making money but it’s a basic mode of motivation for any human.

Also, don’t forget to follow artists. I use to be slightly demotivated or envious of successful illustrators. I found a healthy way around this on how to get motivated by their art. My explanation here is purely based on the brilliance of their work and not on how many followers they garner in a month.

Freelance - Annada Menon

First, I look out for their process. How many hours they spend on their work. The materials they use and most importantly how they use it. Always watch videos of artists who inspire you. You tend to get a glimpse of their workspace. They create an environment that complements their nature of work. That is something even I have put to use and developed a small safe haven of my own to work within.

Finally, I would like to say, just be passionate and bold of what you do for yourself or for others to see. The field of illustration can get intimidating but its not impossible to make a mark. Hopefully these words were encouraging to help someone take a step closer to being original, experiment and practice in those empty dusty sketchbooks stacked away for months 🙂

Motivated - Illustration by Annada Menon

Published in Issue 48

A Freelancer’s Life in India! Every day, with a dream of ‘Being Your Boss,’ many creative professionals jump into the pool of freelancing. But many are not well prepared for the life of the freelancer, which brings many challenges along with benefits. So to explore further, we interviewed many freelance illustrators and designers to get answers to the question you should ask before taking the final call of becoming your boss!

 

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Shreya Shetty
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LA-based freelance concept artist and illustrator, Shreya Shetty, shares her insights about handling and organising finances as a freelancer, so that it no longer feels a daunting task.


W
orking as a freelancer means you have a wear a lot of hats. Being smart about your finances will allow you to continue to operate smoothly. Here are some ways to help you through the ups and downs of the freelance life.

1. Know Your Worth

Charging a below par rate is going to hurt you, over time. Talk to your peers and know the general rates. Sources like ArtPact, Glassdoor, etc. help find out the hourly and per piece rates for illustrations and such.


2. Budget for Taxes for Freelancers

Freelancers pay at a higher tax rate. Consider this when you quote your prices, and budget for this when you have expenses. Virtually, all work related expenses can be written-off as business expenses. Find out all possible allowed business expenses that you can claim as a freelancer. Be sure to keep your personal and professional spending separate.


3. Consistent Clients

Try to have consistent clients so you know that you will be making a certain amount per month. Also, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Try to have a couple of different clients, so even if one stops commissioning work, you won’t be out of work.



4. Invoicing

Be prompt about sending in your invoices as soon as the job is done. Most of the bigger companies have fixed billing cycles so if you are late and don’t send your invoices in by a certain time, it might take up to the next cycle to get paid.

5. Passive Income

It’s always great to supplement your commissions with passive income. This means that you can generate revenue with minimal effort, based on the work that you have already done. Examples of this would be Print on Demand (POD) services for prints, licensing; selling content like tutorial videos, brushes, and so on.


6. Plan Downtime

Plan for the downtime and try to save up at least 3-6 months of your basic living expenses. When you start out keep your overheads low, embrace the frugality till you know you have saved up enough to not panic if the work dries up for a while.

Published in Issue 37

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.

 


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Every designer develops a style, which can be seen through his or her work. No matter which medium you choose to work in, it is this unique point of view that gives an identity to the artwork. Shreya Gulati gives an insight about her versatility, bold and quirky work and delves deep into the process that helps her achieve this style.

Versatility
Future is Female

Versatility
Versatility
Upstox Branding.

Deconstructing the Subject

Shreya enjoys fragmenting the illustration and having fun with each part as it allows her the freedom to create something different each time. Working on individual parts rather than the whole gives her the versatility, bold, clean and quirky style that is clearly visible in her illustrations. Bright colours, striking graphics and playful characteristics are synonymous with her style. She loves creating characters and building stories around them. Designing contains many permutations and combinations of applying art and problem-solving methodologies. The vastness and the limitless possibilities fascinate her and this lends very unconventional and experimental expressions to her designs.

Versatility
Versatility
Still from the Video ‘Financial Management’.

Versatility is the Key

She does not believe in any one particular style but likes to experiment with different palettes, treatments and line work according to the subject matter. Not being bound by any precondition and taking the flexibility to explore different mediums and have fun with it makes her each piece unique. Moving effortlessly through mediums her versatile style of work has taken her through illustrating a children’s book to designing an app for stock trading.

Versatility
Pseudo Sapera.

Versatility



Versatility
Pride

Inspiration from the Subconscious

Inspiration is not something that is acquired but it is the objects, visuals, words or anything that influences you and seeps into your memory. She draws inspiration from memory, sometimes by referring to her Tumblr dashboard which is constantly evolving as she travels and records the inspiring things that she sees around her. Sometimes she also refers to the artworks of the artists she adores. She loves drawing human forms, especially female, mostly not clothed. Human anatomy and sex are the two subjects she enjoys exploring the most.

Versatility
Pop Stickers.

Musings

Design is Therapeutic

She doesn’t have a defined design process but lays emphasis on research and scavenges for information. Whether it is watching a movie, reading an article or a book everything influences her in some way or the other. At times, the trigger is found right away if not then she analyses the data thoroughly and doesn’t stop till the cue is found. The solution lies in understanding the problem in-depth and drawing a clear brief. It is a sheer joy when your target consumer is happy with the product and you see your designs being accepted and becoming a part of your users. She enjoys designing thoroughly and finds it very healing and therapeutic.

Versatility
Obot Character.

Anamolies

Asia Map

Seeing Excellent Work Pushes

In the case of a creative burnout or when she feels creatively exhausted, she loves to surf the Internet to see some brilliant work. At times, images, visuals or powerful words that might not be directly connected but seem to have an impact, infuse great ideas. Being exposed to the great work being produced inspires and influences to push the bar further. Seeing good work inspires her but when she finds some extraordinary work it motivates her to push harder and work to achieve greater heights. The amazing and boundless world of design keeps unfolding in mysterious ways inspiring to work more and more.

Genesis

Imperator

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Satish Gangaiah, a successful independent freelance illustrator and designer, teaches us a few tips and tricks of working in the creative field.

Illustration by Freelance Illustrator Satish Gangaiah
Illustration by Freelance Illustrator Satish Gangaiah
Sticker Design for Facebook

Illustration by Freelance Illustrator Satish Gangaiah
Sticker Design for Facebook

Illustration by Freelance Illustrator Satish Gangaiah
Sticker Design for Facebook

CG. What was the inspiration for you to take up illustration as a career (freelance illustrator)?

Satish. During my childhood, I occupied most of my time by drawing. My fascination for drawing has evolved through time. My inspirations have mostly been from the urban context or pop culture. Later during my career, I was exposed to art from across the globe. This pushed me to further explore and understand international design trends.

Illustration by Freelance Illustrator Satish Gangaiah
Raitha - Landing Screen illustration



Illustration by Freelance Illustrator Satish Gangaiah
Hooghly River

CG. Your artworks depict caricatures. Is that your style in general or do you use it for specific pieces of art? Are there any other styles also that you like to try out or that you follow?

Satish. My style is not exactly caricatured, instead it reflects a sense of lightness and is aimed at easy communication. Stylisations often convey the message far better than realistic depictions. As an artist, I believe in being versatile in style and content. It is important to mould your work based on the requirement.

Illustration by Freelance Illustrator Satish Gangaiah
Life with pets

Illustration by Freelance Illustrator Satish Gangaiah
Diwali Greetings

CG. Your artworks have a lot of Indian touch to them but projected in a very contemporise manner. Could you please tell us a little about this style?

Satish. I take great care to ensure that the style I create connects with the audience. The artworks of this particular style are based on the Indian context and are intended to give a local feel. They carry my lived experience, my influences and my inspirations. The added contemporary feel helps them resonate with the times we live in. They reflect the trends and sensibilities of today’s culture and society.

Illustration by Freelance Illustrator Satish Gangaiah
Chaatwala

Herbs to Home Poster

CG. Your profile showcases an animated version of reality through your work. Is it a concept, scheme that you follow?

Satish. Most of my work draws from my experiences and attempts at thinking out of the box. They all have a common thread that reflects different fragments of my identity. Most of my personal artworks are inspired by things around me.

Tik Tok lady, personal artwork

CG. What are the messages that you aim at bringing across through your artwork?

Satish. One common message is that of joy. I am neutral as far as identity politics goes. Instead, I create my characters in a utopian realm of happiness. My artworks are also a tribute to the things that have shaped and inspired me. My messages are simple, minimal and relevant to us all.

Welcome to the world of corporate culture, personal artwork



Republic Day Tableau, personal artwork

CG. Could you give an insight into your design process, from the beginning till the end to get the desired output?

Satish. I always begin with a systematic understanding of the requirement or the subject. The next step is research; it is vital as it helps me explore multiple possibilities in representation as well as making the delivery of content more efficient. It also gives a good foundation on to base their concepts and ideas. After that, I start compiling mood boards and inspirations for the ideas. I also start making key sketches in tandem. This helps me keep the idea fresh and innovative. I believe by giving this amount of time prior to making an artwork always adds value to it. The next process is all about developing the idea into an artwork.

Chronicles Over Coffee

CG. In brief, what has your journey been like being a freelance illustrator?

Satish. My journey has had its ups and downs, in spite of that, I have enjoyed it so far. Experience has taught me that the more planned and well managed the process is, the more sustainable and easy the journey becomes.

Swayamvara, personal artwork

CG. Being a freelancer yourself, what would be your words of inspiration and a few tips for all the people wanting to start out a career in the field of illustration in today’s times?

Satish. The advice I can give to those who are starting their career is – always be passionate. Being passionate about your art practice also builds empathy to appreciate good art and design. And always try to create your own identity. Success always follows slowly if you are focused and retain the passion to be creative.

Good Morning

Published in Issue 48

A Freelancer’s Life in India! Every day, with a dream of ‘Being Your Boss,’ many creative professionals jump into the pool of freelancing. But many are not well prepared for the life of the freelancer, which brings many challenges along with benefits. So to explore further, we interviewed many freelance illustrators and designers to get answers to the question you should ask before taking the final call of becoming your boss! So, if you are planning to or have already become a freelancer then this issue is a must-read for you.

 


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CURRENT ISSUE



 




Divyam Kaushik
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After completing my MBA, I joined an advertising agency where I fell in love with the whole concept of designing communication. For two months, I used to sit next to my graphic designer friends and play around with colors, fonts, and copy; it was so much fun. After a few months, I noticed a pattern; the creative team created five options for one poster and multiple feedback every day. It wasn’t fun anymore.


B
eing client-facing, I felt responsible for my friends in the creative team, creating multiple options, and spending drunken nights in the office (Working!). It came to the point that I learned how to make the ‘logo bigger’ myself, export PDF, and send it to the client myself. (Kidding!)

I thought it’s not me; it’s the client. They are indecisive and cribbed about them with the creative team to gain sympathy and get the work done. But I knew I was in trouble when it happened to us again.

That’s when I decided to seek help and gathered my creative team to brainstorm ways to increase efficiency and get the design right in the first go. We discovered the problem wasn’t that the client was indecisive, but we didn’t know the client and the business much.

Why was that happening? Every meeting with the client, we tried to please the client by filling the awkward silences with something while we should have heard the client instead. We were not asking the right questions to solve the business problem with the design.

When you start talking, you have taken away your client’s chance to think about what you have said. You stop them from digesting the design you carefully created, and you start sounding like that annoying pushy salesperson that no one likes. Instead, you can get inside your client’s head, so you know what they really want — and let them do the talking.

You can become a trusted advisor in the business process, and you use your client’s own words to give them what they want.

“Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.” ― Voltaire

Listing down the questions that we decided to ask every client before getting onto a design phase, use these questions for your next campaign brief or freelance project to save time and become that trusted advisor to your clients.



1. What are your long-term and short-term business goals?

This question does two things. First, it gives you a roadmap to follow to help you provide for your customer’s immediate needs. When you can help make your customer’s short-term goals a reality, you become a partner in their success. Second, beginning to understand their long-term goals establishes you as a partner for the long haul. You stop being just a person trying to achieve a one-time sale, and you build a relationship that helps you to become a trusted confidant.


2. What’s your single most significant challenge/ problem when it comes to your product/ service?

People don’t buy products/ designs; they buy a solution to their problem. Asking these questions pushes your client’s to think and tell you exactly where the problem is.


3. How did you discover that this is the biggest challenge?

Humans tend to assume things, this question will help you identify the hypothesis and finding the root cause.


4. Major challenges that you have faced in the last 6 months or a year?

This is an extension of the previous questions and brings recency to the conversation. Every client wants to first address the immediate problem, and once the solution works, they will look for a long term relation with you.


5. What have we done already to solve this challenge?

This will help you understand all the ways the client has tried solving the issue and if you think it was the right approach, dig down deeper into understanding the execution. You will know which ideas to work on and which ones to discard right-away.


6. How do you define success? What are the KPIs?

This will help you track success, and if you are in digital, this will help you course-correct if the design needs any iteration.


7. What are the no go areas?

I remember working for a client that hated typography and loved quirky wordplay.

The Key to Your Success

The best way to know your client is to ask! For that matter, anyone. If you do it right, you’ll identify countless options to solve problems, become an asset, and help your clients succeed.

I still won’t guarantee that client won’t ask you to make the logo bigger.

And finally, don’t ask them how much budget do they have. If you have a great design/idea, they will be open to extending the budget. Trust me when I say this, I have been on both sides of the tables.

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Characters and their stories are but reflections of imageries that surround us. No wonder then, a glance at any of them and we find a commonality. Freelance artist Devaki Neogi explains.

People’s Actions Leads to Events

Even in real life, what human beings do lead to stories that define their lives. This is exactly what happens with characters in artworks too. Either these events influence the characters and make them the victim. Or, the characters influence the events and become the protagonist. Either way, the character and the event have an intimate connection. They influence each other and drive the plot of the whole story.

Style is an Instinctive Reaction

To the brief, that is. An artist’s style emerges. After one understands the objective and visualises the plot, one decides the flavour, or an after taste of the story. That’s the lead that helps in deciding what treatment is necessary for the theme or the artwork.



Freelancing is a Low-Risk Affair

Apart from the freedom and space that freelancing offers, it also helps you decide what’s professionally best for you. As an illustrator you always collaborate and as a freelancer there is no one else making those decisions. Hence, the risk is far less. You only deliver for what you commit. This, in return, helps you specialise, experiment and build a network where the possibility of creating goodwill at your name becomes the greatest asset.

Published in Issue 15

In this issue, we invited leading Gaming professionals to share their inspirations along with their suggestions to improve the Gaming Art in India. Featuring some of the big names of Gaming Art like Vinay Vikram Singh, Sandeep Menon and Neeraj Menon along with Internationally renowned Russian studio, ‘Grafit Studio‘ and many more talented creatives. So, go ahead

 


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From the outside, freelance design looks like the dream. It’s only when you walk the path you see that the struggle is real. Annada Menon, a freelance visual artist, opens up about her freelance work and what it takes to keep getting those projects.

Babel Fish. This is the cover art album created for the Shubhangi Joshi Collective.

Unlike most artists, Annada Menon did not have a childhood calling for the field of art. She stumbled upon this realisation much later at the age of 16 through drawing classes. The technique and patience with which her teacher guided her with different mediums helped build Annada’s interest in the field.

Motivated - Illustration by Annada Menon
Blending In, Procreate Art Prize entry.

The Garden Menace. The illustration draws inspiration from the amusing struggle.

Annada’s journey into poster design has been quite unexpected. She tells us that once she approached a café in Pune to keep a pop up stall to sell prints of her work, later she was asked to design posters for events held at the same café. This also gave her chance to explore the possibilities of paid work.

Sofar Bangalore poster design.

Social Media creative for The Finch, Mumbai.

Elaborating on her style, Annada’s explains that 80% of her work is purely imagination. She draws everyday and this helps her create an inventory of forms in her head. Thus, the realism observed in any of her work is a result of this constant study. She takes a lot of inspiration from surrealism, animated movies, comic books and children’s book illustrations. She believes her style is an amalgamation of all this, though she would rather not label her style.

‘B’. 365 Days of Type. This is part of the series that Annada created for the 365 Days of Type.

Freelance - Annada Menon
Ukulele with Luv. Social Media Creative for Manmauji Cafe.

For Annada the most important phase of a project is the draft phase. Here she provides 2-3 options to the client based on the brief and references. Originality is imperative; hence she does her research to ensure her approach is unique. Annada is also very fluid with her design, where she allows herself to scribble continuously for an idea to be born.

Freelance - Annada Menon
Art’tma. An album cover designed for Rachintan Trivedi.



Freelance - Annada Menon
Tail Waggers Meet. Social Media Creative designed for a dog meet at Manmauji Cafe.

While talking about her stint as a freelancer, Annada tells us that she started out as a freelancer in 2017. Then it was simply by word of mouth that projects came her way. Comparatively it’s getting easier for her now. She believes she still has a long way to go, but she doesn’t take a project if the client does not understand her area of expertise. She is also bringing in versatility to her projects, this has made the process of landing a project easier.

Freelance - Annada Menon
A poster designed for a Sofar music event.

Freelance - Annada Menon
Tail Waggers meet 2. A poster designed for a dog meet event at Manmauji Cafe.

Apart from poster design, Annada is also interested in canvas paintings, murals, installations, etc. These are derived from her pure arts background, and she is looking forward to practicing it in the future.

Freelance - Annada Menon
A social media creative for The Finch, Delhi and Mumbai.

Freelance - Annada Menon
Llamas are Floofs. Learning to Draw Animals

Looking into the future, Annada wishes to establish herself as an independent artist. However, she is also looking forward to learning from a senior designer or artist either in a firm or independently.

Freelance - Annada Menon
Annada attempts to convey the message of the importance of natural habitat and thinking of the future generations.

Published in Issue 49

A Freelancer’s Life in India! Every day, with a dream of ‘Being Your Boss,’ many creative professionals jump into the pool of freelancing. But many are not well prepared for the life of the freelancer, which brings many challenges along with benefits. So to explore further, we interviewed many freelance illustrators and designers to get answers to the question you should ask before taking the final call of becoming your boss! So, if you are planning to or have already become a freelancer then this issue is a must-read for you.

 


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