1

Ad here

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 Studio, Shahana 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

 

ad here

Usually, the idea of working on the creative front for a Government project is not welcomed by many studios. But Lopez Design has accepted the challenges that come along with these big scale projects and have been successful in carrying out the same.

Branding for National Impact

India is a globe in itself with a population of almost 1.4 billion, it is important to create experiences that belong to us. Design is about people and the Government is the largest client in context to the impact it creates – it is an opportunity to design for millions. Taking on a Government project replaces the notion that design is for an elitist audience with the idea of design being for the masses.

A Rigorous Process

Government projects involve tedious processes – right from extensive documentation to verification of credentials and adherence to formal guidelines. Nevertheless, this struggle needs to be done to get recognition from the Government – that good design is important and can make a difference.

Design

Studio Lopez Designs’ first major project was identity and branding, communication collaterals, website design, social media and signage for Bihar Museum, with biggest challenges being dealing with the bureaucracy at the administrative level and getting payments and approvals sanctioned. Patience and persistence are the secrets to move forward in such kinds of projects.

Design

A Measured Gamble that Pays Off

A client picks Lopez Design recognising the potential and brand value. Equally, we take the initiative to bid for Government projects as the prospect of designing for a larger audience outweighs the tedium of administrative processes and other risks. Because of our rigorous and thorough design process, we usually get it right the first time, rarely facing opposition, in spite of going through the many levels of authority.

 

Under the umbrella of UNICEF, we were commissioned to do the branding of the Health and Wellness Centers of the Ayushman Bharat program.

Design

Indian Designers can be Catalysts

We have garnered achievements largely by pushing boundaries and rising against the stereotypical application of design. Making the design, region, and nation-specific and addressing the character, language, and behaviour, imparting an authentic feel to the design.

Design

In Ayushman Bharat, the branding program was about painting the walls of 1.5 lakh local primary health care centres. Creating a national brand and yet a local brand was an achievement by which each HWC has its own unique character. By allowing people the creative power in execution, they became catalysts in the design process.

Simplicity and Creativity in Implementation

Sometimes following standard design practice and providing all specifications falls flat. In the Ayushman Bharat project, created a system with an element of creativity: a simple brand manual with 3 to 4 steps to bring a level of consistency and giving ownership to people at the ground level. This worked wonders and yielded beautiful results. People took responsibility and delivered within the time period. Leaving implementation to the people was a bold and necessary step, but was successful.

 

These projects outshine many corporate projects because of their scale and reach. It was a moment to take pride in our design process as it is making a difference to the nation.

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.

 

Order Your Copy!

CURRENT ISSUE

 

Shreya Shetty
Ad Here

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.

 

Order Your Copy!
CURRENT ISSUE

 

Priyanka Bhasin
ad here

To give custom solutions to the client one must understand their requirements and expectations. Though every client has its own uniques needs but to better understand the rapidly changing client’s demands during the COVID pandemic, we asked Priyanka Bhasin, co-founder of Design Stack, for her recent experiences and learnings.

Q.
Client’s Demands, Have you witnessed any changes in the projects you receive now than from the projects from pre-pandemic days?

Priyanka. Yes, we most definitely have. The projects we have been approached for in the past few months have been far more focused and defined in terms of business objectives and timelines. Also, they seem to be largely based on immediate and visible client’s demands, which is in stark contrast to how things were earlier. Where people were willing to take more risks, today there is a lower scope for indulgence.

Another interesting new development includes work coming our way from large scale public sector companies that speak to the wider demographic, demonstrating a surprising yet encouraging the savvy understanding for strategic branding and appreciation for good design.

Q.
Apart from COVID impact, is there any other recurring theme that you can observe in the current commissions?

Priyanka. Some businesses have been hit very visibly in the past few months because of the way that COVID has impacted consumer spending patterns. It has led to a visible shift from ‘want’ to ‘need’ and once again, there seems to be little or no scope for indulgence. Businesses seem to be now investing in more holistic and purpose-driven brands.

‘Survive to thrive’ is also a recurring theme we are witnessing. The inability for businesses to differentiate between branding, advertising and digital agencies is possibly the industry’s biggest challenge which is further burdened with the need for agencies to stay afloat. Survival is dictating decisions and if we as a collective are not cautious, it could even impact creative standards.

Q.
Has there been any difference in project deadlines before and during the lockdown?

Priyanka. More than just deadlines becoming tighter, it is the intensity of engagement that is crazier; heavy spurts in short times. Often, there’s just about enough time left in a day to schedule the next set of calls. The lines between personal and professional are fast fading and balance has become critical to stability. We are at a whole new level of multitasking!

Q.
Has work from home impacted the projects/commissions that you receive?

Priyanka. Not really. The industry at large has been hit more by the economic downturn rather than WFH. And since we saw a similar downturn play out in 2008, our decision to build a diverse portfolio spanning most industries across both public and private sectors, has worked wonders and helped us ride this wave.

As far as WFH is concerned, our clients have been happy to have more access to us; and we think they secretly prefer it as well!

Q.
Has there been a general increase or decrease in the projects since the lockdown began? What would you attribute this change too?

Priyanka. Besides the initial few weeks of the lockdown where we saw not just clients but the entire country go into silent shock, it has been an extremely busy year for us. We did lose a few clients along the way which hit hard because the associations were long term and well established. On the other hand, we have a surge of meaningful enquiries coming from across emerging business categories, as expected, and completely new geographies which have been quite unexpected.

We would like to end on what has ironically been our most gratifying work this year. Pro bono work has become our creative investment towards that holistic purpose and hence closer to our hearts. It may probably be our only indulgence through these COVID times!

Published in Issue 51

Business, studios, agencies, freelancer all have different perspectives to handle the pandemic and hurdle it brings. While some find pandemic an obstacle which will soon fade away and on the other hand, few saw opportunities in the same. Many creatives used the past few months to reflect on their styles and horn their art. Many utilized it for collaboration opportunities with national and international creatives. This issue is a must-read if you are looking for insights, inspirations and ways to bounce back in this unlocking phase. Grab your copy and enjoy it on a sunny day!

 

Order Your Copy!
CURRENT ISSUE

 

Divyam Kaushik
ad here

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.

Being 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.

CURRENT ISSUE

 

Chaaya Prabhat
Ad Here

Chaaya Prabhat highlighting some of the challenges and advantages she feel are there for an independent illustrator working with Indian clients.

There are a lot of advantages and disadvantages of working independently as an illustrator in the creative field in India.

The advantages are plenty – In India, the need for illustration work has increased over the years so there’s definitely a lot of scope and demand for the work, and when you work independently you can work on multiple projects with various companies simultaneously, so it’s always creatively challenging.

illustrator

You also have a lot of the advantages that come with freelancing – flexible schedule, not being tied down to a 9-5 schedule, being your own boss etc. What I like about working independently as opposed to working in-house or as a part of a company is that I can be very hands-on with the work that I do, and be very involved from the start of the project to the end – whereas in a studio setting the work is usually split between multiple people or compartmentalised.

However the same independence can also work as a disadvantage – you often have to take care of everything on your own and wear multiple hats, which can be quite taxing. In addition to all the creative work that has to be carried out, you also have to have at least a basic knowledge of contract writing and reading, invoicing, accounting, etc.

In India, especially, companies and clients that hire illustrators are just starting to understand the amount of work that goes into illustration and the value that it adds to projects.

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.

 

Order Your Copy!
CURRENT ISSUE

 

Harshvardhan Kadam
ad here

Harshvardhan Kadam faces multi-fold burnout; it can be creative, physical, mental and also sometimes emotional. He maintains, that burnout means you need an urgent break!

But a break from exactly what? Are you tired of working back to back? Or just low on enthusiasm? Or have nothing left to express? Or just a self-projected burnout? All these reasons are okay long as you know how to deal with it. Harshvardhan shares his ways to tackle the burnout.

I was really young when my father told me that whenever you get bored of academic assignments, which were very narrow for exploration and didn’t cater to your complete potential, then just switch to some other medium of expression.

This made me look at films, photography, adventure sports, biking and even cooking. And that simple advice makes me explore everything I find exciting. Which does not just enhance my personal work but also the kind of creative individuals I got connected with, the friendships and collaborations I’ve done so far, which are worth cherishing for rest of my life.


Nowadays, the Internet is as constructive as destructive it is,

One’s focus plays a vital role in increasing their powers of expression. But you lose your focus and you feel the burnout; it literally means to empty your learning and restarting afresh.

To keep up with the new interactive world, self-assessment of individual potential, self-critiquing and analysing old work, are some of the important steps in any artistic processes. These can be done alone or even with your trusted companion who can tell you that what you’ve made is a shit when it is, and you do not feel taken aback. As accepting your weakness is also a part of climbing the ladder of growth.


Burnout has taught me, to be honest, to be grounded and appreciate all the beautiful things in life.

For me, this phase is as good as the one in which I create. The universe of possibilities otherwise will remain less explored. I do not bind myself to a term of an artist known for just one thing. For me, achievement has never been an ambition. That has made me accept moments as they come.


So, whenever I’m done with murals I get back to my cave and illustrate digitally or sketch on paper and that’s how I keep my energy levels high.

I have a Jaw Harp that I play, to switch with some old and new tools like iPad, sketchbook, a few empty walls, canvases, a couple of apps and gadgets I have invested in and that is how the life goes on

Published in Issue 33

We all face it! But everyone has their own unique way to come out of it, in this issue we try to explore different ideas of handling the ‘Creative Burnout’. The most common of all was #travelling, through everyone do it in their own unique style. Like Luke Ritchie from South Africa finds the nature and mountains as the best source of inspiration while Sushant Ajnikar says riding his bike and meeting four-legged loyal friends, dogs, on the way is the best way to learn. So, pack your bags and don’t forget to subscribe your copy before you leave!

 

Order Your Copy!
CURRENT ISSUE

 

Saurabh Chandekar
ad here

Illustrator Saurabh Chandekar explains how kept himself open to every brief throughout his journey of being an artist/ illustrator and how his style has evolved with him.

I grow into my illustration style with time and experience. It’s a beautiful journey to try new things, always being open to new experiences and keep evolving. I never made any conscious effort at establishing my own style as an illustrator, but I always keep myself open to new briefs, a new point of views which help me explore the things differently.

Illustartion by Illustrator Saurabh Chandekar
Sati

For me this everlasting journey is more important than establishing my own style. But yes, a dominant hallmark of my character might stamp itself upon my work and that becomes my ‘style’. But with me, not confining myself to any set style is my style.

Illustartion by Illustrator Saurabh Chandekar
BLURRD

So for me, it’s a life process, I live, I experience, I observe and I express. My inspirations come from day to day lives, with time I think, I have succeeded in placing my own process to grasp them. Contrary to popular belief, inspiration does not necessarily have to come from only the extraordinary. My inspiration comes from ‘the ordinary’. From the many things that come to us by default. In the course of my interplay with society, as a professional and as a private citizen; normal events, ‘day-to-day’ happenings tend to take on a different and unexpected form. Forms that you never would or could imagine. My art, my inspiration is not alien to my society. In fact, it stems from it. My art is the manifestation of my life experiences.

Illustartion by Illustrator Saurabh Chandekar

I am thankful to my dad Late Mr Sadanand Chandekar who was a very well known one-man stand-up comedian; he gave me that eye of detailing. He used to narrate diverse human characters, his storytelling used to always fascinate me about how beautifully one can convey unique characteristics of the personalities. I think that fascination has always been my inspiration; to pick that beauty and to narrate it through my art forms i.e. drawing.

Old Statue

Music always inspires me a lot. For me, good music is the most important part of my work ambience. I hear music in any language, instrumentals, abstract music, I play, I sing all these are styles of expressions. I read up on all kinds of subjects which help me do my research.

TIRONA

The creation in itself is blissful. The professions where creative activities go on to enrich your life quality, it becomes a pleasure journey than mere money earning, as I have to state that when you know that the money is not everything the creative profession brings, you heaven to live with.

WRINKLE

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.

 

Order Your Copy!