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Vaibhav Kumaresh
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Vaibhav Kumaresh explains, how relying on your own unique inner voice and trusting your gut feeling could help you to create great stories or content for every audience.

Frankly, I have never given a very serious thought to who my audiences are, and what exactly they may want out of a film I’m making or a story I’m telling through my films. The only person I have taken very seriously is, myself. Over the years of making films, I have learned that I’m my first audience. If I am impressed with a thought or an idea, I will try my best to transfer that impression into my films as truthfully as I (along with our team) can. And I’ll hope that my audiences – be it young or old – will like that impression too.

Animation - Indian Content
Nick Ident, Idli Song.

But yes, there are many a times when I am required by my clients to create content specifically for a certain audience/ age group (indian content). At that point its easy to step back a bit, fall back on your past experience of that audience, reset your view point and then channelise your thoughts and stories through that ‘filter’. At times when our past experience is not sufficient, we do resort to research and homework to refresh ourselves. My prime intention would still be to extract from my head what I’d want to give them, and then work hard at realising that idea.

Indian Content
Return of the Jungle

Growing up in this country, interacting with the world around us, absorbing from it and making films all these years we tend to develop a basic gut feel about various audiences and of what we want to share with which age group. When I pitched an animated character called ‘Simpoo’ to Channel [V] in 1999 (indian content), all I knew was I had a damn funny character with a bunch of fun situations in my head. I only ensured that the fun translated unadulterated into every film we made.

Animation
Simpoo for channel V

The Simpoo shorts successfully ran on TV for a decade and a half and continue to be an online hit with the young and old audiences even today. The more films you make, the more you get to test your gut feel!

Animation
Simpu for channel V

I believe the young audiences today – right from age 5 to 30! are exposed to a variety of content in different formats. Stories and experiences reach them through many of sources. As a storyteller/ content creator that’s trying to reach out to them, the best way is to tap your inner uniqueness and pour it out in your work. That’s the only strength you have. Show it off!

Lamput TV Series
Animation
Lamput TV Series

Published in Issue 46

This issue is focused on, how to design for kids, bundled with articles full of inspirations, advice and unique point-of-views from the veterans of the animation industry, illustrators, photographers, artists and many more. So, order your copy or subscribe, before print copies run out and enjoy reading this issue!

 

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Creative Gaga - Issue 49

 

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Why not templates - Visakh Viswambharan

Since Visakh Viswambharan started working on the web and the mobile industry a common question, which he came across, is “Should I go ahead with a template design?” His immediate answer would be “NO, I would be jobless then” 🙂 Since it’s a common question, it’s better to answer in a comprehensively, why he think so. Below are few points, which you need to consider while making a decision on custom verses templates.

Uniqueness and Originality

Obviously the templates are popular, that’s what the providers claim on their websites too. It would be true, but in this case, your website will lose its uniqueness. How would your design stand out, If every second website your customer browses looks similar? How will you cut through the clutter, if you lack originality/uniqueness? A unique website is always judged by its layout. If the layout is common, it doesn’t attract the visitors.

Limited Customisation

The templates are rigid, you can’t do too much of customisation on a template. The options are limited, what best you can do is to change text or image. Not to mention, majority of the templates look more or less the same.

SEO challenges

I have seen many issues in terms of SEO, somehow Google doesn’t like the template sites. For instance, the most popular WordPress sites are hard to optimize for the Search Engines. How many times have you landed in a templated website while you were searching for some information on Google?

Performance

Be ready to take the beating in terms of loading speed. As it is a template, you are bound to have many lines of unwanted codes, which will affect the performance of the site. Many people ignore performance, no user likes waiting. It’s high time you realise, performance is equally important as look and feel.

Adaptability

Would you like to stick to your brand guidelines and build a website which depicts what your company stands for or make adjustments based on some plug and play template, which was built for thousands of lazy customers? Do you really want to compromise?

Scalability

As I mentioned earlier, this medium is ever evolving. You might want to add more features at a later stage or move to a powerful server. Data migration can get quite tough. Many template server providers don’t support this. So choose wisely, better safe than sorry.

Cheap

Here comes the biggest trap. Do you really think you can customise the theme without coding knowledge? Not really, you have to invest time or money to learn how to code a webpage or hire someone to help you. The moment you start adding your own graphics and content, the template is likely to break. Sometimes you will realise that you want to scale or add a new feature and you might have to put the entire template site into the trash and build from the scratch. Is it really cheap? It is really not when you think long term. And yes templates are cheap because they look cheap 🙂

Everybody wants freedom and fights for it. If you are ready to be caged then you can go ahead with a predefined template. You may feel suffocated at times. Today, all the products are evolving; you might like to add a new feature to the site. What if the templates are not providing the option? Would you go ahead and rebuild a new site?

If you have limited budget and are looking for a quick rollout, you might consider templates. But again, would you want a site that is not easily findable on Google?

Simply put; if you have a business that can make money, find a good developer. The cost will be negligible compared to the return. If you don’t have a serious product or your living does not depend on it then go ahead with a template.

Web & App Special - Creative Gaga

Published in Issue 31

This Web and App special issue brings forward some very talented digital and web designers along with experts from top few digital/ UI & UX studios of India. Also, Visakh Viswambharan, founder of AppinessInteractive answered a very common client question, ‘ Why not templates?’ in our Vantage View article.

 

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Creative Gaga - Issue 49

 

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.

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Creative Gaga - Issue 49

 

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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

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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Creative Gaga - Issue 49

 

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!

 

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Creative Gaga - Issue 49

 

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!

 

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Creative Gaga - Issue 49

 

Is it the right time for rebranding? And what may be the pros and cons of missing this opportunity? Many questions surface in our mind when we think of rebranding. Here, Chandan Wadhwa, director of Lopamudra Creative, provides answers to some of them with his unique experience.

Changing your branding is a great move but it can also turn into an embarrassing goof. It’s a risky endeavour. Though a lot depends on the purpose of rebranding whether it is a turning point in the company’s history or a massacre of followers.

 

Whichever is your reason, but rebranding surely calls for great marketing efforts. Without it, the brand could just lose it all, as the old doesn’t exist and the new has no recognition. Like Airtel, Videocon and Micromax; all did a great marketing exercise after rebranding to capture the market and gain recognition.

It’s always and never the right time for rebranding. It’s a decision that is based on a lot of variables and comes down to your brand’s exact positioning in the market.

 

If rebranding has ever crossed your mind, then it’s a good indication to start researching. No one knows your customer and brand better than you. Just trust your gut!

If you are still indecisive about it then here are a few pros and cons of rebranding.

Graphic Design Opinion:-  6 Steps Guide to Getting Design Education

Pros:

• A new vision. A new promise. And new customers.

 

• Your brand will be in sync with the industry trends and the new generation.

 

• You will be ready to grab fresh opportunities in the new market.

 

• Brings a fresh energy into a workplace. Employees stick around more expecting a better opportunity.

 

• It also surprises your competitors.

Cons:

• Expensive and time taking exercise. Requires Patience unless you hire Fiverr (but then you are definitely screwed).

 

• If you change your visual marketing without changing the company focus or vision, customers will detect that the new image is just ‘the lipstick on a pig’.

 

• And rebranding without remarketing is a ‘Suicide’.

 

• Rebranding is sometimes confused with a change of ownership or even bankruptcy. So, if you don’t do the research and hire the right experts, you can end up confusing your existing clientele too.

To summarise, if you are thinking about a rebranding exercise, don’t forget that it is an overall strategy and not just as simple as changing your logo. Every element you change can have a significant impact on your brand image as a whole. Also, make sure your new brand identity should be consistently carried across all marketing channels

Published in Issue 34

This is a rebranding special issue focused on finding the answers to some of the basic questions like what is the right time for re-branding? or what all needs changing and how exactly? We interviewed some of the best branding studios like Landor Mumbai, Elephant, VGC, Inchwork, and many more. If you are considering rebranding or want to learn more about the art of doing it then this issue is a must-read. So, go ahead and

 

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Creative Gaga - Issue 49