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This century belongs to creativity and innovation. In everything we do. The way we live is a lot different from what it used to be earlier. Our engagement to shape our future has become intense and pervasive. Design is omnipresent. It is so naturally embedded all around us that sometimes we don’t even notice it. Be it in architecture, product, textile, fashion or graphic design. In the past few years however sensitivity towards design has taken a turn for the better. People today are more aware and are slowly but surely appreciating the impact good design can have in their lives.

Associate Creative Director and Partner of GCD StudioShahana Jain is going to specifically talk about graphic design as an industry and how it has built a standing for itself as a fast growing discipline. Communication design has seen exponential growth in recent years following the surge in consumerism and media. Branding, packaging and advertising are crucial to the success of a product or service in this fiercely competitive environment where presentation is as important as quality. More so with the explosion of digital media, graphic design has found a new area of expansion.

A new brand is created every day. With the new generation rearing to go, the startup ecosystem is fearlessly growing and new players are constantly aspiring to become big names. In such a scenario each one is trying to create their unique space and identity. Branding has therefore become an obvious starting point for those who want to make their presence felt.

For instance many design firms in India is constantly working with start-ups in the technology, FMCG and hospitality space to help them create a distinct identity that then interfaces with the world. Designers are contributing to the entire visual world around us. There is immense scope for designers in almost every industry.

More and more industrial companies are utilising the services of product designers as their inputs often lead to added values in terms of improved usability, lowered production costs and more appealing products. The design is, therefore, emerging as a much sought after career option. If you have a flair for design, the industry offers you wonderful opportunities to prove your mettle. We, as designers, therefore play a vital role in giving expression to an idea and have the power to influence the success of a brand.

With retail moving into self-service formats, the shelf appeal of packaging has become more important than ever. The market is flooded with products vying for consumer attention. Packaging design has become critical, as it is the initial point of purchase: the point of decision making for the buyer.

Attractive and relevant graphics, appropriate balance of colours and typography, as well as attention to forms and material make a significant difference in the aesthetic appeal of a product. Large corporates and businesses have realized the importance of packaging design and are continuously investing in revamping their product packaging so as to make it more in line with current trends and to counter competition.

Advertising has also evolved in last decade. With the advent of the digital media and people consuming information all the time, short, simple and impactful advertising has become the order of the day. You have to be instantly noticed to make an impression in a cluttered marketing environment.

The consumer should feel excited and compelled to ‘follow’ you, ‘like’ you or ‘tweet’ about you. Divided consumer attention can be channelized using the tools of good design. Given the changing fabric of advertising, more time and energy is being spent by big and small corporates on brand strategy including the use of effective marketing and social media tools to get the message out.

Digital, web and app development is an area there maximum expansion has happened. And it will only increase in the future. If you do not have web presence you’re not in the running. Meaningful content development, both visual and copy is essential to maintain brand presence. Smart UI and UX design including easy layout and navigation determines whether an app/website is user friendly and hence functionally viable. Therefore role of graphic design becomes critical in finding appropriate solutions for the task at hand.

From a global standpoint, design is no longer contained within the boundaries of any country, as the world wide net is really one holistic platform. It forces design to find some sort of universal language and designers to be aware of trends around the world. Every new brand is present on the net and the net is accessible to people in virtually every corner of the world.

While this was always the mantra for ‘global’ brands and MNCs – today even if you are a boutique coffee roaster in Coorg, you will have presence on the net and your brand and product will be accessible to people all over the world! So designers sitting in New Delhi or Beguserai, could be creating brands for a consumer in Tokyo or Chicago! And therefore designers need to be up to speed with developments and expectations not just in their local area or country but also on a global platform.

The design industry in India is adapting itself to deal with increasing demand for good, discerning design, both locally and globally. Design schools are equipping themselves with the best teaching tools and updated software knowledge to keep pace with industry requirements. Design companies on the other hand are beefing up their service portfolios and bandwidth by adding to their skillsets and expertise.

Freelancers have found new ground, as there is work for everybody. This is in turn is enabling the availability of talent to large and small organizations who are setting up their independent design departments to accommodate the gamut of work.

To sum up, the design industry is booming and is in a very promising space today. The future is getting brighter, every aspect of life demands a new approach, a new solution, a new way of looking at it.

CURRENT ISSUE
Creative Gaga - Issue 49

 

It has been well established that women are front-runners in their professional lives, they have made success stories of any venture they’re a part of and continue to make a mark for themselves in the world. What women entrepreneurship have achieved is well known. But the Associate Creative Director and Partner of GCD Studio, Shahana Jain‘s take on women achievers is not the ‘what’, but the ‘how’. How are they able to achieve their goals? What modifications are they ready to make in their personal lives? What impact do their surroundings have in their path to success?

Women Entrepreneurship

While enjoying a short break in the hills of Kasauli this weekend, I got some time to think about what women entrepreneurship means to me personally.

Every woman has her own way of structuring her life around what she wants to achieve. It is a function of her personal choices. If she wants she can find a way to balance work, home, family and children, therefore creating an environment conducive to success for herself and those around her.

 

For instance, GCD Studio is an all women’s team, led by a woman who believes there is no work-life separation. From bringing her children to work to taking a vacation to spend quality time with them, she has always encouraged the co-existence of work and life.

Women Entrepreneurship

In fact, ‘work-life balance’ (where work is seen as something outside of your life) is a misnomer. You find a balance when they are different. It is as much a part of our lives as anything else. I feel women understand their responsibilities well and can effortlessly juggle both work and home without neglecting either. Not to generalize, but because women are accustomed to multitasking they manage to get a lot done simultaneously.

Women Entrepreneurship
Women Entrepreneurship

A workplace truly becomes your own when you feel the freedom to be able to bring your personal life into it. Citing my own example, I recently had a baby, and not for a day did it restrict me from continuing with my work. I could work from home and have colleagues over occasionally to work with me on a particular job.

 

Being women we understand each other’s personal commitments and needs and therefore create a sensitive and supportive environment in the studio. It empowers us to move forward no matter what. When you spend more than fifty percent of your day somewhere, it ought to be your second most favourite place in the world.

Women Entrepreneurship

As entrepreneurs in the creative industry, we find ways to balance profitability with investment in people. So while being driven and focused on work we also devise ways to make the studio creative and engaging. Deadlines and client calls are interspersed with occasional time outs.

 

I feel as women we tend to add softer elements to the work culture, like we have saree days, we play a game of taboo at lunch, or take an impromptu trip to Dilli Haat on a winter evening. Professional skills are layered with new learnings, like a recent photography workshop in Goa. This goes a long way in establishing a healthier and more productive work environment.

Women Entrepreneurship

Broadly speaking, women by their very nature create a nurturing environment around them. To value each other as individuals, encourage their creativity and out of the box thinking, to be sympathetic to shortcomings that others face without naming or shaming them are essential to the growth of any organisation.

There is no room for hierarchy, we’re not ‘bosses’ or ‘employees’, we’re just people who get together every day to do something we love. A flat structure with no silos allows everybody to be involved with every job happening in the studio. Which further means that if one person is crunched for time, or has a personal emergency, the others can cover.

 

I find that women are more cooperative in a team environment and especially when there is a non-threatening work culture that isn’t based on competition and one-upmanship. Values like these make it a place you want to come back to every morning.

Women Entrepreneurship
Women Entrepreneurship

Having created our own unique work culture, GCD Studio continues to be among the leading design studios in the country. Having worked with an impressive list of clients, like the Oberoi and Trident Hotels, Lemon Tree Hotels, The Times of India, Spicejet, Daawat, to name a few, as well as playing a key role in guiding new companies like Veeba, Eazydiner and Farmveda.

 

We consciously keep a balance between commercial projects that keep the bottom line healthy and socially supportive projects, which we often do pro bono. Moreover, taking our in-house work culture forward we have been able to create long term professional relationships with our clients; some more than 20 years.

Women Entrepreneurship

To conclude, when women choose to become entrepreneurs, they mean business! They often have given up some stereotypical role or broken a norm to do this – so often have to prove themselves. That is what gives them the drive to succeed and even do things differently. Women see their workplaces as extensions of themselves and an important means to achieve professional as well as personal growth.

CURRENT ISSUE
Creative Gaga - Issue 49

 

Starting from scratch isn’t that big a deal. Putting in your hundred percent, grabbing the right opportunities and administering patience go a long way in the evolutionary development of an idea. Gopika Chowfla shares her insight about the same.

Gopika Chowfla Design
Gopika Chowfla Design
Brand Identity for Veeba

After her graduation, choosing to work between 2 design studios and an ad agency to practice her learnings, Gopika joined the ad industry to do what she loved- illustration, logos, typography, poster making, packaging design and photography, and was mentored by amazing creative people at work like Frank Simoes and Mohammed Khan.

Gopika Chowfla Design
Gopika Chowfla Design
Logo and Packaging Design for Organica

The Genesis

In 1996 when the market was changing, print media took a back seat and film was reigning supreme. Being driven by the desire to be innovative and creative, she was not inspired by what she was doing and wanted to get into the realm of design. This gave birth to Gopika Chowfla Design.   Gopika Chowfla Design has evolved organically without much of a business plan or charting of a growth curve. The two driving forces for Gopika were enjoying the work she does and working with people who have the same motivation.

Gopika Chowfla Design
Packaging Design for Chelsea Teas

The Work-Culture 

A studio with the approach of making the clients’ job as own and this has helped establish long-term relationships with clients. Believing in a work ethic that is cooperative and in creating an environment that enables people to work and create in an engaging and supportive way, Gopika has always treated the workspace as a place of learning design as well as life skills.

Gopika Chowfla Design
Gopika Chowfla Design
Brand Identity for Spicejet Airlines

Her workspace is her life with her own children growing up around here and her colleague’s kids as well. Here, personal issues become shared events and everyone is welcome to bring their lives into this work space.   Gopika is proud of having created a space that has welcomed and nurtured as well as been enriched by some of the most talented and wonderful people. The result of this is evident in the output of the studio and the fact that people who have worked here never really leave.

Gopika Chowfla Design
Gopika Chowfla Design
Brand Identity for Spicejet Airlines

Growth and Expansion 

Gopika Chowfla Design was started as a dominantly print design studio but soon branding was their core strength. Getting into the digital space became essential and started extending their design services to web interfaces, primarily as an integral part of developing the total brand architecture as they like to approach brand development in as holistic a manner that they can.

Gopika Chowfla Design
Gopika Chowfla Design
Brand graphics and complete retail experience for Oxford Bookstore and Cha bar

Finding something exciting that challenges creatively, works as a starting point and is then executed in a manner that is fresh, logically thought out and beautifully designed.   When Gopika Chowfla Design was setup, clients typically engaged their advertising agencies for their brand and design-related jobs and these were done at very low fees by the agencies. So convincing a client to actually pay a proper fee to an independent design studio came with its own challenges. But soon enough a client recognized the value of engaging a designer for design specific projects as they got better, more specialized inputs. Seek clients who respect your work and give room to do what you do well.

Gopika Chowfla Design
Coaster design for Apsara

A Positive Outlook

Taking the challenges in a positive light as something new to tackle, it has never been a struggle to move forward. It rather is an enjoyable journey with plenty of interesting co-travelers and many important milestones.   With a young and agile team, we try and keep pace with changes that happen around us and respond accordingly. With social media being such an important part of communication and marketing, are into that area too.

Gopika Chowfla Design
Anya Hotels branding and design

Hidden Treasures

Loving what we do and letting the designers at Gopika Chowfla Design take charge of the assignments they are working on is Gopika Chowfla Design’s secret to achieve everything that they wish for. Making tow of her designers as partners. Gopika wishes to transform it into a cooperative where everyone is an owner, contributes to the earnings and takes a share of the profits.

Gopika Chowfla Design
Gopika Chowfla Design
Anya Hotels branding and design

Clients respect your work only if you respect it yourself. Figure out what you want your brand to stand for, be true to it. Don’t chase the money, go after the ideas and do great work and the money chases you! Surround yourself with talent and feed off it, so that it keeps you going when you feel like you’re drying up. Enjoy yourself, there couldn’t be a more fun job in the world – than as a designer.

Gopika Chowfla Design
Gopika Chowfla Design
Brand development for Apeejay Arts
Issue 44 - Creative Gaga

Published in Issue 44

Behind every successful studio, artist or designer there are stories of challenges, struggles and their unique solutions to these. With this issue, we interviewed many well-known names from the creative industry and found their different learnings and experiences behind making their own self as a brand. Though they all have a different take on this topic, still they all unanimously emphasise on focusing on their skills and quality delivery of the final outcome. So, if you are looking to establish yourself as a brand in the creative market or already in the process of it, this issue is a must read. Full of insights and inspirations from the best of the talents, this issue is waiting to reach your desks.

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CURRENT ISSUE
Creative Gaga - Issue 49