1

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

 

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

 

ad here

Art is once again gaining its momentum among the public thanks to the influence of social media. Hence, we at Creative Gaga wished to understand and shed some light on the role and importance of illustrations and its place among the Indian Brands.

As the world grows increasingly mechanical and societies turn grey, our innate desire to find colour guides us towards the world of art. This ardent need for creative expression, coupled with technologies, can be stated as some of the many reasons for the increasing solidarity for art witnessed in recent years. Illustrations, in particular, are obtaining a singularly strong foothold on the Indian Brands.

“An illustration is an art of crafting an image to convey a message for a particular reason,” explains Sajid Wajid Shaikh, a self-taught visual artist specialising in illustration and design. Sajid’s artworks speak for themselves through their severe lines and abstract forms. Having partnered with companies such as Google, Facebook, and Adidas to name a few, Sajid possesses tremendous knowledge upon the use of visual languages, such as shape, form, line and colour to convey the necessary message. His artworks are often a departure from the reality, portraying the everyday subjects in an abstract style and often coloured vividly. “An illustration is engaging and independent of the boundaries set by the physical world, as they are a fraction of an artist’s imagination, which provides the room for artistic liberty,” said Sajid.

The artist attributed the growing popularity of illustration to its ease and accessibility. “With the advent of technology and internet, illustrations are relatively easy to produce and are quite flexible in terms of the time it takes to make the changes and get the desired image,” explained Sajid. He supported his statement with a series of his projects and commissions.

Illustrations for Granfalloon
Branding for The Granfalloon

“For example, The Granfalloon project. The Granfalloon is a production house based in Mumbai. The idea is to show a state of mind and location that brings people together who may otherwise have nothing in common. And so, we made the two partners fly on a Carousel, one is trying to catch a fish in the sky, and the other is trying to fry it,” explains the artist. “Moreover, illustrations can effortlessly give the brand its character, as they crafted to fit the brands’ needs, and are comparatively easy to make, change, modify and scale. Hence, with all things said, illustrations are taking a seminal place in the marketing and communication department of major corporations,” noted Sajid.

Stationery for The Granfflloon
Poster for The Granfalloon

Agreeing with Sajid, illustrator and graphic designer, Pavan D. Rajurkar believes that the growth of the illustration field can be attributed to three primary reasons: New Tools, Growing Modern Media and Less Manpower & Minimum Resources. “From my experience, I would say that the medium of illustration isn’t as demanding as other mediums like films or photography, which would require certain resources and manpower. One can communicate the same thing through illustration with limited resources and in less time,” explains Pavan.

Illustration for Vinay Electrical

Pavan D. Rajurkar has been working in the advertising and design industry for the past seven years, upon completing his Masters in Animation Film Design from National Institute of Design. Having worked for numerous advertising agencies such as JWT, Interface, and Radio Mirchi, among several others, Pavan draws his inspiration from colours, culture, mythological stories, and is especially inclined towards Indian art forms. It is this penchant for something Indian and local that has helped him find his style and visual language. Hence, what better authority to further explicate on the role of illustration?

Illustration for Vinay Electrical
Illustration for Vinay Electrical

Having attributed the growth of the field to three reasons, Pavan further elaborates on his points. “Firstly, the access and ease of digital tools allow creation and publication with much more ease. New tools including, digital devices, software, print & colour technologies have reduced barriers and opened new avenues. Secondly, today social media is a chosen hub to cater to a wide range of target groups, which contributes to the ever-changing styles of the artist. Since they are always on their toes, learning from different styles and techniques from around the world. On the other hand, brand requirements have also evolved with time in terms of frequency, promotional activities, design language and such. Moreover, their primary need is to maintain a regular social media presence which can be easily fulfilled by illustrations,” elucidates the artist.

Illustration for Vinay Electrical

Illustration in terms of brand designing is nothing new in our country. “The art of illustration has its share of history with brand designs in India. The industry is vast as many consumers, industrial products and services have been using this medium to build their brands and promote their stories, since time immemorial. Therefore, I believe that illustration is not forging a new place in the industry because it already has a place of its own. But it is evolving, as the brands reuse this traditional form of communication in a modern system,” elaborated Pavan.

Illustration for Natural Ice Cream

Thinking in similar terms, Satish Gangaiah provides us with a unique insight into the field. Possessing over seventeen years of experience as an illustrator, visual artist and graphic designer, Satish has worked with numerous national and international companies such as Bosch. “The field of illustration in India has evolved tremendously and have started to cater to a broader audience now. In my 17 years of experience, I have witnessed a lot of change in the way art used in creative representations. There used to be a time when there was a heavy reliance on the use of stock images. And now, we can witness this trend gradually fading. At present, there is more thought given about the ‘end-user’. Everyone seems to think of the prospective audience before the design process begins. That, in my opinion, is more professional and also renders the design or the artwork more relatable with its target audience,” Satish explains.

Illustration for Bosch
Illustration for Education App

Furthermore, the artist believes that present-day art and design are evolving to cater to the end-user or the target audience by reflecting the local trends and colloquial flavour. Hence, shaping foreign brands to be more appealing and approachable. “I have worked with multinational companies such as Bosch, where they wanted to represent themselves with a local context. They wanted to portray how their expertise in the automotive sector can help build local economies and create local jobs, specifically catering to an Indian market. And, they wanted to portray it to a vast audience in the simplest of mediums. Illustration connected them to their target group, and the project portrays this,” states the artist.

Illustration for Killer Launch

Approaching the subject from a different perspective, Nithin Rao Kumblekar feels that the market has been changing in different directions for the last few years. He attributes this restlessness in the industry to the ever-growing and ever-evolving development in the available platforms. “Maybe all were confused and didn’t know what medium works best for the brand. As we all know, print media has been diminishing for the last few years. And most of us had no clue what true digital marketing is, many creative ideas got rejected because the client was unsure where to put the money,” said Nithin. This disquiet in the industry reflects in the briefs the artists receive.

Illustration for REVV
Illustration for REVV

The story-based illustrations no longer desired due to time constraints. In its stead, a plethora of creative methods got developed for the illustrations. These works of art are no longer confined to print media they are also being used in digital and television commercials. “Grey Worldwide, Delhi approached me to illustrate characters from their television commercial for car rental brand Revv. Initially, it was for the online ads, but later they decided to have these illustrations to be part of the commercial as well,” explained Nithin.

Indian digital Artists
Illustration for REVV
Illustration for REVV
Illustration for REVV

Just as print media, illustrators for online advertisements also have various format and size specifications. “In some cases, it is difficult to have one single layout which will adapt to different sizes. McCann Bangalore was designing creatives for promoting an event for TVS called MotoSoul. The event had many activities; clubbing all these activities together and then designing the ads would be a nightmare. So, the creative team asked me to create the illustration in a way that all the characters should be different layers so that they can move the required activities and characters from the illustration to fit different sizes and executions,” said Nithin, illuminating his personal experience.

Illustration for Moto Soul TVS

Nithin has also observed a rise in demand for illustrations in small, local brands. He attributes this to the increasing exposure due to digital medium, filling him with hope for a brighter future for design. “I have no clue how the market will change in the coming days. But I’m sure illustration will never go out of fashion. It certainly evolves with every step.”

CURRENT ISSUE

 

Preeti Vyas
ad here

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

 

Vaibhav Kumaresh
ad here

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!

 

Order Your Copy!
CURRENT ISSUE

 

Ad Here
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.

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.

 

Order Your Copy!
CURRENT ISSUE

 

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

 

ad here

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!”