1

Itu Chaudhuri

Many of us look for upcoming trends to be ready for future demands of customers or clients. You already must have read many articles on predicting trends at the beginning of each year. Here read on for a very unique view on design trends by Itu Chaudhuri, founder and principal at Itu Chaudhuri Design.

It’s a modern, seasonal disease. The new year brings with it a thick flow of trend forecasts, cheery and sweeping, and we read them with the forgiving spirit that the holiday season demands. For Deep Design, it seems foolhardy to indulge, yet churlish to desist, so here’s a holiday smoothie on trends themselves.

Some trends forecast, such as those in fashion, are meant to be self-fulfilling. The great and big among the fashion industry make them. Thus buyers know what colours and styles to buy, and retailers know what to stock. The media is in it at the start, happy to report what the well-dressed citizen will be wearing. The consumer, she of the clued-in, independent mind, is eager to confirm: it’s only fitting. Paris/Milan/Mumbai know best; empty shelves help no one.

Trends

The communications industry, unlike those that stock things, doesn’t face the risk of empty shelves. Yet trends there surely are. The dozen or so portfolios and the artfully designed CVs that our office reviews monthly give a clear view into what the bottom of the food chain has been eating. A set of colour palettes, a certain taste in typefaces, and a tendency to gratuitously quantify, in order to contrive a graph to replace text (give yourself a 75% hardworking score, or three and a half stars).

But unlike fashion, there’s no Big Design, no dominant source heavily invested in the forecast. Pantone, a widely used colour communication system, comes closest to announcing trends, along with paint manufacturers who try to drum up interest in their new shades, a hue and cry, if you will. For the most part, these graphic trends result from simple imitative impulses. This may account for the relative stability of these design trends.

DESIGNERS (WHICH INCLUDES COMMUNICATORS, MARKETERS AND POLICY MAKERS) SHOULD CONTINUE TO TAKE THE TRENDS THEMSELVES WITH A GRAIN OF ETHICALLY-PRODUCED, IODIDE-RICH, ROCK OR SEA SALT.

But common to all trends forecast, and trend commentating, is the theorising that identifies and proposes the driving currents. Inevitably, large, global turns of politics and their economic, social and cultural facets are called out as driving forces: Brexit, Trump and unless you are observing news fast (another micro-trend) you know the rest. Deep Design, too, has indulged early and often, such as linking the discontents behind the rise of the US prez to those boosting the rise of Patanjali long before the final elections, not to imply direct link but to speculate on a similar mood driving both.

Trends

Anti-globalisation and nationalism are the most familiar labels applied to this phenomenon. Commentators hear the voices of groups who feel ‘disenfranchised’, speaking with eerie simultaneity across continents. These voices have exhausted their patience with the ruling intelligentsia, and abhor its factual (or specious, or false), well-articulated utterances: better a mis-spelled, ‘feeling’ untruth that promises action, than an unproductive, pedantic truth. Going further: a suspicion of democracy, technocracy, complexity and balance, and the citified, corporate or university culture that spawns them; a yearning for viscerally inspired gestures. (Other strands omitted for brevity).

The trends forecast that respond to these may be summarised (in a post-truth kind of way!) as a return to roots and basics; a preference for imperfection; the recycled; rough and natural finishes (call them unfinished). The broad theme: authenticity.

Pantone’s Colour of the Year is Greenery 15-0343, to represent ‘fresh beginnings’ complemented by earth and mineral tones, and upcycled materials. Primary colours (from flags, and nationalism) remain in force. Expect packaging to be literally and otherwise transparent, to convey the authenticity of provenance (add: bucolic-ness and humanity). Photography, it says, will be more ‘real’ in terms of the human subjects, with emotion (add: imperfect skin) getting extra marks. The trend towards active, sports-inspired wear continues (cementing the general trend towards informality)

Despite the smell of truth about the causes that drive these trends, designers (which includes communicators, marketers and policy makers) should continue to take the trends themselves with a grain of ethically-produced, iodide-rich, rock or sea salt.

For one thing, many of these trends are old and long-running. Look at restaurants that have opened in the last ten years in your metropolis, and note how similar many of the trends you spot in the concept and the design of the space. Exposed air conditioning ducts, cocktails in jam jars (Deep Design’s pet peeve), rope, rough-hewn wood, local produce and food fusion. And watch for authentically brush drawn lettering on menus, coming soon to a grubhouse near you.

Further, trends forecast are popular because they feed our confirmation biases; many may well have other less (or more) obvious causes, preventing a proper understanding. Several trends run concurrently and play out differently depending on cultures (defined by geography and age).

LONG-TERM TRENDS MAY EXERT A MORE STRATEGIC FORCE WITH WHATEVER YOU ARE DESIGNING. BUT IT’S BEST TO BE ALIVE TO THE BABEL OF THE CONVERSATIONS WITHOUT BEING IN A HURRY TO ISOLATE ANY ONE SIGNAL, IS THE GOLDEN PATH.

This means paying attention to the invisible drivers behind the trends. For example, the most valuable lesson from post-truth is an ancient one: that the tendencies of people to think through the filter of their identities, anxieties, and pride trump all others. In this state, they will ignore ‘good design’ as a source of meaning. That’s what Trump’s diabolically plain election identity conveyed—nothing—which may have resonated with his voters as authentic, much better than the professionally designed, pointing-ahead, promise-laden ‘H’ from a Capitol-ist they didn’t trust.

Issue 45

Published in Issue 45

When celebrations are all around for the new year, everyone is curious about what this new year will bring. So, the rounds of looking back to the past year and trying to predict the new one starts. We started the same exploration through this issue by reaching various experts for their take on the trends for their respective fields. And with many expert interviews, we got various unique viewpoints, as Elephant Design shared the importance of having a well-thought packaging design for products. And on another hand, VGC gave an insight into, how a brand should be created for the Millennials. But to top it all, with very deep logical design thought, Itu Chaudhuri says that the trends are a modern seasonal disease, and we designers should continue taking it with a grain of ethically-produced, iodide-rich rock or sea salt. All-in-all this issue is a very interesting and a must-read, if you’re looking for greater clarity and want to start your year with a lot of deep design knowledge about the brand development to packaging design, user experience design, to storyboarding and more.

 

Order Your Copy!
CURRENT ISSUE
Creative Gaga - Issue 47

 

Freelance business is all about clients and your services to make their work easier. Clients have different requirements but dealing with their temperament can be tough at times. Freelance business can be compared to a double-edged sword where on one side your clients are indispensable and on the other hand, can make you frustrated if you haven’t chosen and managed them correctly.

Some clients can be quite needy while some turn up as a nightmare. Your clients are your assets, make them happy is all that is expected from you without compromising on your time, work or professionalism.

Selection of the client is also significant as you can’t please everyone, so try to know more about their history in your first meeting itself before signing the contract. Client’s management is essential as your living depends upon them. So, devise practical methods for them to come up with the best of the options and make working smooth for both the parties.

How to Manage Your Clients?

Retaining clients is as essential as onboarding them and holds a real test of your abilities for managing your clients and creating lasting relationships for many freelance businesses.

1. Agree on Timelines, Strategy, and Scope.

To know and manage client expectation is quite remarkable and it is advisable for the freelancer to take them seriously. Misunderstanding the project, decrease the chances of successfully reaching the goals of your assignment. Whether you are interested in picking up small or a massive project do remember to prepare scope-of-work document adequately. Try to use the report for communicating your client about the budget, scope, timeline and ensure that both the parties agree for the same before you start working on it.

Suppose if you have a freelance business like website designing, your clients can expect the stock imagery, and website hosting included in the pricing agreed before starting the project. Make sure of the services you will source to your clients and explain to him everything in black and white.

 

Because you can risk your reputation in the market if you tell your client about various out of scope things after starting the project and he might think that you are swindling his expectations and have poor management. While preparing the outlining of the project try to feel like the client and know what the things that should include in the plan and while the client can manage the others on its own. One golden rule for managing the clients are under promise and over deliver.

 


2. Communicate Regularly.

The cause for a majority of problems is directly related to the lack of communication or miscommunication at times. However, there are many ways to improve communication skills to resolve such issues. For example, providing a regular status update to the client about on-going projects will help you to adjust the relationship and better your perception in the eyes of the client.

Following up with your past clients’ on a regular basis and initiating regular meetings with your existing and potential clients will ensure your business continues to flourish in the long term.

 


3. Use Tools to Make Your Work Easy.

For managing your clients effectively and efficiently try using some tools for managing your relationships with them. There are various low cost and high-cost options to maintain your customers by keeping the contacts, documenting project status, tracking your interactions and prompting to schedule or following up for a meeting.

 


How to Strengthen Your Relationships?

Pursuing a good relationship with your client is considered to be a lucrative trait. As strong relationships can generate repeat businesses, referrals, and also create opportunities for promising work.

 

Humanely approach is the secret of handling the relationships and treat them as they have always wanted to get treated. Caring and nourishing is essential for the links in your life.

Initiate your relationships with listening. Try to hear more than you speak as this act of your will help you to know your client and identify their requirement that has got unnoticed by the previous freelancer or employees. And above all everyone loves for being heard give your client the privilege and allow them ample amount of time to express themselves to you.

Ask many questions to know your client well on a personal level. Try to find their hobbies, children’s, favourite pets, or they love to travel around. Identifying them in their capacity will help you in understanding their personality and the kind of work they like you to perform for them.

 

By being transparent and trustworthy, you can ensure that your client will come back to you again. But nothing can leave the strong impact other than your high-quality work and be delivered within budget and on time.

 


Feedback

Always ask your clients about the feedback. Another golden rule is never argued with them. If your client points out something in your work never show his fault and try to be as humble as possible. If you hone these traits, it will help in being calm and composed, and you handle secure and robust going clients simultaneously.

Never be afraid to walk away from your clients who are draining your time and resources. If you have already reached a point with your client relationship where he is causing you way more headaches as compared to their worth, be honest, specific and upfront and look forward to getting rid of him as soon as possible.

Freelance business is quite easy to start but taking it to another height can be tough if you don’t have regular clients. In your initial as well as advanced stage do know that your client is your asset and you should decide what he wants you to deliver at any given point in time. Try out different strategies to generate great outcomes for yourself and your client and make it worthwhile for your budding business.

CURRENT ISSUE
Creative Gaga - Issue 47

 

Shaivalini Kumar

Always Start with a Sketch

Even though a lot of our work happens digitally, It’s important to establish a basic structure of what you wish to create! Physically sketching out the illustration is always a good practice.


Ideate

While ideating, create mood-boards, mind maps and write down everything that seems enticing. Narrow down on what you wish to create gradually and you’ll get your core idea.


Get Inspiration

Gathering inspiration is an important part of the process. Inspiration can also come from the smallest of things be it a conversation, a person, a place or a thought.


Build a Story

A trick can be used while illustrating characters is writing a short story around them, that entails details about the character’s personality traits. It makes the process of illustrating the character much more engaging.

Be Informed

Reading about areas outside of design is important for gathering content and making your illustration relatable to a larger number of people.


Experiment

Sometimes spontaneous decision to experiment with colours, textures, shapes and forms, can lead to unpredictable outcome, which can be interesting and unique.


Trial Runs

It’s okay to start from scratch, even multiple times. You may often end- up starting all over – but that contributes to making the final illustration much more refined and closer to what your core idea.

Render and Detail

Once you establish your base illustration, adding hints of details that are complementary to the forms will bring more life to what you have drawn.


Get Feedback

It’s always good to see what people feel about your creation and process, by getting feedback on your work you may be able to identify points that you might have missed out.


Practice

A lot! As you know, practice can make you perfect!

Published in Issue 30

We interviewed the branding experts, who are behind some of the very successful brands. Lopez Design, have shared the story behind the recently developed branding of ‘Bihar Museum‘ and also shared the basics of brand creation in the ‘Gyaan’ section. Young visual communication designer like Shaivalini Kumar shared her love for the letter design while experienced graphic designer Anup Shah dwelled upon his passion for calligraphy. In brief, this issue is packed with branding and typography design experts who can help you solve the mystery of the brand creation!

 

Order Your Copy!
CURRENT ISSUE
Creative Gaga - Issue 47

 

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

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
Creative Gaga - Issue 47

 

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 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.

Design
Illustration showing how the system adapts to different HWCs, Ayushman Bharat Branding.
Design
Ayushman Bharat Branding. The newly launched health centre at Dhanas
Design
The design takes shape with illustrations that evolve from local arts and crafts

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.

 

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
Identity for Bihar Museum
Design
Posters, Mugs, gift bags for Bihar Museum

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
Identity for Bihar Museum. Website and other digital platforms
Design
Identity for Bihar Museum. Hoarding

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.

 

In Ayushman Bharat, the branding program was about painting the walls of 1.5 lakh local primary health care centers. 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.

Design
Website for Bihar Museum

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.

Design
Design
Signage for Bihar Museum
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. 

 

Order Your Copy!

CURRENT ISSUE
Creative Gaga - Issue 47

 

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.

 

However, 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.

Issue-37

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
Creative Gaga - Issue 47

 

Visual Communications specialist, Lisa Rath tells us what are the key qualities she looks for when hiring a young communication designer.

In a young designer, hunger for knowledge and performance are vital. An understanding of why they have chosen design discipline, and why they wish to pursue it as a career option, is a rather important factor in gauging a candidate’s potential. It provides an overview of their perspective, and approach, thus offering an insight into their temperament at a broader level.

 

In the current academic scenario, design education is often an option for school leaving students without superlative academic performance. Therefore, it’s important to know how much they are genuinely invested in design as a study and vocation. The willingness to absorb and learn is often an offshoot of their hunger and drive.

In the current academic scenario, design education is often an option for school leaving students without superlative academic performance. Therefore, it’s important to know how much they are genuinely invested in design as a study and vocation. The willingness to absorb and learn is often an offshoot of their hunger and drive.

Next, in line are drawing skills. Though computers are used for every design discipline today, the basic ability to express an idea via drawing is paramount. Skilled, communicative and disciplined use of sketching always leads to good, well thought out design solutions. The better we draw our ideas, the better we communicate with clients.

Good drawing always translates into a better-finished design solution.

One must remember this at all points of time – not only at the conceptual stage of a design process but as the work progresses through many phases.

An awareness of the socio-economic realities of our country and the rest of the world is desirable.

Understanding, sympathising and contextualising a design problem is essential for all designers pursuing any discipline. Without a good understanding of India or the world’s socio-political-economical landscape, young designers can be at a loss when exploring solutions for a potential project. It’s advocated that sociology and psychology should be part of design education.

 

On the same lines, it is not only an added advantage but to quite a large extent necessary and important, for a young designer to be interested in politics, books, films are it mainstream cinema, art films or absolutely anything under the sun.

Lastly, as a communication designer, it is very important to be communicative. Therefore, writing ability, debating ability and a great sense of humour is a must to survive in the studio.

Published in Issue 38

This issue, we try to explore different views from many well-known studio owners and senior designers. While Anthony Lopez of Lopez Design shared tips on what a studio looks for in a designer, Mohar Ray from Codesign highlights the key aspects that play a significant role and make the difference in whether you are hired or not as a promising designer. Also, this issue has an insightful article on ‘Branding with reason and love’ from Itu Chaudhuri, founder ICD (Itu Chaudhuri Design) along with Siddhi Ranade, explaining his tools of story telling through his unique style of illustrations. This issue is a must read for a talented graduate to a branding expert. Order you copy and enjoy reading it!

 

Order Your Copy!

CURRENT ISSUE
Creative Gaga - Issue 47

 

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