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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.

Working 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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Hailing from Manipur, Thokchom Sony celebrates the natural beauty, customs and traditions of his hometown through his work. Inspired by patterns from Indian handloom and textile design, he combines it with his illustrations, which ultimately brings out the unique characters.

Sony Thokchom from Manipur
Manipur
Wild orchid

The magic of Manipur

“I love nature” says designer, Thokchom Sony, and we don’t doubt it! Nature is celebrated through strong themes and yet he is rooted in his hometown. The beautiful Manipuri fabric patterns weave a story with portraits as he imparts socially relevant messages.

Manipur
Indian Ballerinas.

Sony Thokchom from Manipur

Drawing major inspiration from Potloi, a cylindrical skirt worn by the brides and dancers in Manipur and the flowers from the state result in unique characteristics or a personality that are detailed extensively. Working in details, especially with hair, eyes and skin textures Thokchom finds natural skin tones with freckles, moles and blush so beautiful. Incorporating traditional elements like chandon on nose, tanakha on cheeks helps in bringing out the originality and ethnicity in the characters.

Sony Thokchom from Manipur


Lily girl.

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, this issue can give you much-needed insight and guide you to a better financial health of your business or freelancing.

So Order Your Copy Now!

 


Order Your Copy!

CURRENT ISSUE



 




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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. Paper boat 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. Startup 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.

design
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.

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

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

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.

 


Order Your Copy!

CURRENT ISSUE



 




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Animator and Illustrator, Lavanya Naidu, expresses how one can find more, happiness, room to grow, not only professionally but also personally, by focusing on producing work that is rather challenging and cherishing at the same time.

happiness-Lavanya Naidu
Healers

happiness-Lavanya Naidu
Wanderers

CG. All your illustrations are fun, represent happiness. How do you choose your characters and topics of illustration?

Lavanya. I try to be an optimist about most things in life. I guess my work too in many ways, reflects the same. I want to be able to induce in my audience, I want to be able to share that positive energy. A lot of my work, characters and environments are based on simple joys and human emotion. I draw inspiration from my relationships; my friendships; the people (and sometimes animals) I see around; everyday moments worth freezing on canvas; worth appreciating and taking a second look at.

happiness-Lavanya Naidu
Bright Sunny Days

An illustration created for a friend celebrating her relationship.

CG. You use a very lively colour scheme that is, both, vibrant and subtle. Could you please tell us how you arrive at it?

Lavanya. My colour scheme has developed over time, and still has a long way to go! I began asking myself why does the sky have to be blue when it really isn’t always blue? There is a myriad of colours that we can play with. I began experimenting with different palettes and started understanding how the absence and presence of light change colour. It’s an ongoing journey and tremendous fun!

happiness-Lavanya Naidu
Illustrations for Storytime Magazine

happiness-Lavanya Naidu
Illustrations for Storytime Magazine

happiness-Lavanya Naidu
Illustrations for Storytime Magazine

CG. What is your approach towards acquiring clients, and how do you fulfil their needs?

Lavanya. I have been extremely lucky to have had some wonderful clients. Most of my clients have approached me, having had looked at my work on Behance or my blog. I make sure to keep all of my pages updated with new projects, as soon as I can. I respect another person’s time and money as I would expect that in return, so it is of utmost importance that I deliver on or before a reasonable deadline. I usually take on work that I know, I would love to do so that I can be true to that commitment. Professionalism is key, it helps you filter out the unnecessities and focus on the actual task at hand.

Flamingo in My Garden.
A beautiful diversity of birds of the Indian subcontinent come together in this lovely story.

The Dark Glen. Cover art for Tinkle Comics.
What started off as a cover, soon turned into a comic inside as well!

happiness-Lavanya Naidu
Where's the Mummy

CG. What do you feel is the balance between marketing, portfolio and quality of work when it comes to acquiring work? Do you think there’s anything more a designer needs to do?

Lavanya. We live in an age where there is an endless choice, and it gets harder and harder to make an impact on your audience. Our attention spans are fleeting. However, if you love what you do, and you can put that into your work, people can feel it. If instead of focusing solely on staying relevant, we can focus on producing work that challenges us and that we are passionate about, it gives us more room to grow both personally as well as professionally.

Something fishy. No Smoke Without Fire – a personal short animation film. Background explorations for an upcoming personal
short in progress.



I would say that quality of work is usually the most important aspect when acquiring work, followed by sharing it on different forums, where peers and professionals can see and critique your work, as well as sharing it on more public forums where people can relate and experience your work too. The learning never stops, so ask questions and keep at it.

The Bookworm.
A personal illustration dedicated to my best friend, a voracious reader, even in dim lighting.

happiness-Lavanya Naidu
Art made for TEDx Bangalore’s annual event.

CG. What inspires your style of work?

Lavanya. I am an avid observer and am stimulated by those around me; by everyday interactions, sometimes more complex emotion, or relevant subjects around the world that resonate with me. There is so much we have in common, so much to share, so much that can bring us together, that is what inspires me.

A Flamingo in my Garden.

To the Future. Personal art dedicated to my best friend and our enormous love for dogs.

happiness-Lavanya Naidu
You Came. Personal work
Concept art for an upcoming personal animation film.

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.

So don’t wait, just order your copy NOW!

 


Order Your Copy!

CURRENT ISSUE



 




Preeti Vyas
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Acclaimed Chairwoman and Founder at leading design and communication consultancy, VGC, Preeti Vyas deploys her experience and knowledge gained through the years to share with us the nature of competing in the design circuit, and the factors that influence winning and losing a pitch.

There are, essentially, three types of competitive scenarios:

1. Already existing clients, with the potential to give more business.

2. Potential clients who approach us.

3. Approaching and addressing businesses out there.

The task is, hence, multifarious. It ranges from the micro to the macro, and all are symbiotically connected. Having said that, at the core of it is to understand your own DNA and staying true to it. The passion for business must first start with the passion for one’s work. This is important because it will reflect in the body of your work. And, when all the marketing dust settles, that will always remain as the moment of truth and become your brand aura.

With that, it is important to service existing clients excellently with good work; timely deliveries; proactive thinking, and sustaining a mutually respectful and comfortable relationship across all levels.

This golden formula, is to almost always keeps them away from going elsewhere, no matter what the temptations. In case any one element falters, you are risking losing a client to your competition.



Potential clients are influenced by your reputation; your presence in the media (digital or otherwise), and the preliminary research on your work. They might even ask for a multi-agency pitch, and if they have absolutely fallen in love with the combined aura of your work, the threshold to give in or walk away is yours to decide, with room to have the negotiations sway in your favour.

And lastly, the world is filled with potential clients and potential competition. It would serve you well to study both, and to work hard to keep polishing your aura, so as to maintain your brand differentiator and communicate it across available platforms, such as social media, website, direct marketing, events, publications, etc. It is important to be seen as a brand that stands for a vibrant, intelligent and creative solution provider that stays relevant by constantly exploring, innovating and expressing.

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.

 


Order Your Copy!

CURRENT ISSUE



 




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Product Designer and Innovation Consultant, Paul Sandip shares his word on how to develop and create products that are authentically Indian, yet bear an international appeal

India being such a diverse country, it is almost impossible to identify any unifying aesthetic preference. There is no one ‘Indian look’ which can be injected into a product to be a hit in the Indian market.

 


H
owever, what does unify us is our common sense of utility, and to be relevant in the Indian context, our ideas need to resonate with our belief systems and way of life. The design does not have to look Indian, but be Indian. And to unearth such insights, one needs to empathize with the end users; understand their pain points, and try to address them beautifully. Genuine needs are often felt but seldom expressed. Hence, one has to be very observant to the product usage scenario and create products that have universal beauty; not ones that are merely skin deep.

There is another way to attract a customer; by design. It is a subliminal connect which can be achieved by taking inspiration from the context of using the product, and then translate those ideas into Unique Selling Propositions. “USP by design!”

Quality in design is perceived at different levels; an emotional level i.e. to what extent it fulfils your desire, and at the physical level i.e. how the product feels to touch or smell. The more subtle the elements of design are, the more curious the end user will be and therefore get attracted to the product, wishing to own it without probably even knowing why.

 

Finally, attention to details, such as how the product parts fit with each other creates a perception of quality. When people say it is a Chinese product, they often intend to say that the fit and feel of the product is flimsy, hence perceiving it as cheap quality. The choice of materials and their finishes also play an important role in establishing a high quality perceived value; like what Apple does with their products.

To sum it up, keep the idea rooted in India, explore new materials and push the limits of manufacturing processes to achieve international quality. Only then can the necessary and fundamental balance be attained, so as to create just the right mix of Indian and international.

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, this issue can give you much-needed insight and guide you to a better financial health of your business or freelancing.

So Order Your Copy Now!

 


Order Your Copy!

CURRENT ISSUE



 




Concept Artist, Raj Khatri, takes us through his step-by-step fan art progression of his favourite band, Iron Maiden. Starting with the initial sketches in the pages of his college notebook, he transports the sketching into the elaborate stages of adding drips and streaks; highlighting; playing with tones, and such other details, before finally reaching the envisioned representation.

From Sketch To Canvas

What Raj Khatri began as light sketches between the lines of his college notebooks, eventually found expression on the digital canvas. He executed and represented his love for the British band, Iron Maiden, through the application of layering processes; complex colour blocking; shading and blending, and the likes. He elaborates, in detail, each of these steps in detail, thus showcasing what it took to arrive at the final picture.

Step1 Tutorial The Poster of Pure Iron Love - Creative Gaga

Step 1

Started out by scanning copies of original sketches from my college notebooks, done in 2000-2001, proceeding onto digitally cleaning and balancing the black values to get the details and contrast out from the scanned images.

Step2 Tutorial The Poster of Pure Iron Love - Creative Gaga

Step 2

Since Iron Maiden are a British band, composing all of them in the shape of the Union Jack was the base concept, digitally linking the sketches was a primary step.

Step 3 Tutorial The Poster of Pure Iron Love - Creative Gaga

Step 3

Ready for digital painting, the first shading of mid tones were applied onto the top character, likewise isolating the layout into individual characters, before adding the second layer of shading and blending.

Stepa4 Tutorial The Poster of Pure Iron Love - Creative Gaga

Step 4

Shading with dark tones and blending in together, creases and wrinkles were brought into effect, adding the first layer of highlight.

Step 5

Colour blocking was applied to the second character, Eddie from ‘Seventh Son from the Seventh son’, followed by Midtone shading, highlighting and blending for the second character.

Step 6(a) Tutorial The Poster of Pure Iron Love - Creative Gaga
Step6 (b) Tutorial The Poster of Pure Iron Love - Creative Gaga

Step 6

The same process was then executed for the third character, Eddie from ‘Fear of The Dark’, as also for the fourth character, Eddie from ‘Best of the Beast’.

Step7 Tutorial The Poster of Pure Iron Love - Creative Gaga

Step 7

Recomposing all the shaded characters back together, adding a flat colour behind, made it possible to see how the shape was forming or coming together.

Step8 Tutorial The Poster of Pure Iron Love - Creative Gaga

Step 8

Proceeded onto colouring the characters using the gradient map, then drawing the basic shapes and streaks for drips on it.

Step9 Tutorial The Poster of Pure Iron Love - Creative Gaga

Step 9

Toning the dark values of red, and balancing the overall colour spectrum of the layout, before painting the details of shadows and highlights on the drips, finally adding the round edged border to the layout.

Step 10

Added more details to the drips, also placing the painted logo of the band in the center.

Step11 Tutorial The Poster of Pure Iron Love - Creative Gaga

Step 11

Adding additional drips and more details to them; adding shadow to the logo. Applied a layer of flash off-whitish beige colour on top of all layers in the ‘Darken’ mode.

Step12 Tutorial The Poster of Pure Iron Love - Creative Gaga

Step 12

Final colour adjustment, using colour balance and levels to manage the overall contrast and red values. Added sharpness by taking a merged copy of the layout on top of all layers and adding the ‘Sharpen’ filter. Then reducing the capacity to 60-70% as per your taste and finally completing the artwork.

Published in Issue 37

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’. 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. So don’t wait, just order your copy NOW!

 


Order Your Copy!