“You are more then what you think and the more you push and explore yourself, greater would be your repute and level of contentment”
Tell us a bit about the beginning of your career as a designer. How did you start? Have you always known this is what you wanted to do?
I am among the very few lucky individuals to have discovered my passion in early childhood days. I excelled in arts and drawing competitions during my school but was mediocre in studies no matter how hard I tried.
My parents always wanted to see me as an engineer but my heart was into the field of Arts, not a very reputed profession back in 90’s. Post my higher secondary, I wanted to enroll in school of Design but was opposed by everyone around.
Unwary of everyone, I followed my heart and took up various part time jobs to complete my design school. It was extremely tough to fund my own studies, so, I took up various odd jobs from cleaning office spaces to exploring the field of comic strips to art direction in movies. I used to create the entire sets for movies and illustrate for the hotel walls, but none of the role was stable or regularly paid for. In my search, I was introduced to the world of computers and my fascination just grew multiple times. Back in those days when world was just being introduced to internet, there were absolutely no tools except for my sketchbook and pencil. I still remember how I used to spend hours illustrating and explaining design and animations to the animators. Finally, I knew what I wanted to do and the niche I wanted to excel in, hence, chose to explore the field of digital design where technology met with the design. India did not offer the education on this subject around that time so after researching and learning, I zeroed on the New-Zealand School of Design to complete my Masters.
I started as a web/ graphic designer and grew to the position of Art Director in the field of computer interaction. Over the period of years I have designed digital/web campaigns for Coke, Adidas, BP, Nissan, Sony Play Station to name a few while working with International AD Agencies like Ogilvy,NZ and TBWA,NZ.
Did you undergo any kind of formal training to become a designer and what role has it played in your growth?
Yes, I have been a dedicated design student. I graduated from Karnataka Chitrakala Parishat College with specializations in Fine Arts, Graphic Design and Visual Communication. Post this I did my Masters in Design and Visual Communication from Design and Art college of New Zealand.
My learning as a student helped me with a very strong foundation and I learnt the art of craftsmanship that was meaningful; I was shaped into a person of logic and technology with a strong respect for emotions. My bachelor’s degree taught me patience, persistence, precision, visualization and exploration. During those days, we did not have any tools or technology, so we had to pay lot of thought before designing something. On the other hand, my Master’s degree was high on technology and low on craftsmanship; this helped me consider how technology combined with design can solve so many problems of the digital world. The combination of these two was amazing and I was among the first luckiest person to be offered a job post studies.
What is your workflow pattern right from planning to execution for any assignment?
My workflow pattern is quite simple and divided into three steps, aka, Discover, Define and Design.
During the Discovery phase, I work intensively researching about everything, clients, target audience, market landscape, competition, technology, usability. Once, I have a fair understanding of the needs, pain points of the stakeholders and the market, I move towards Defining phase wherein I drive the knowledge and create the data hierarchy and high-fidelity wireframes; this phase is built around the technology and interaction in mind. Finally, in the Design phase, I focus on the visual elements of the design, layouts; I begin with sketching, moodboard and slowly move towards the visual design.
All the process is embedded around continuous feedbacks from clients and depending on the requirement, I work around the user testing. Sometimes, it is post the wireframing and at other times it is post the final design. There are times when we do it at both the stages as well.
Your work involves being creative. Where does the inspiration come from?
Inspiration is not limited to books or design community. What really inspires me is everyday life; I am quite observant and things and people around me is what truly inspires me.
Typically, what does your day look like?
I believe in rising early, so, I begin my day by 5:00 AM. I hit the gym and on the treadmill, I plan my entire day. After a healthy start, I spend time with my kids and reach office by 9:30. First thing I do after entering is meeting everyone at the studios and catching up with each team, this takes around 2 hours or so. Rest of the time I juggle between mentoring the designers and meeting. But, I make sure, I take out minimum of 2 to 3 hours to design every day. This is what I live for and I cannot not do this.
I am very particular about having a balanced personal and professional life, so, I ensure I wrap up my work on time and spend the evening with family.
Which has been your most memorable project and why?
I suppose the Adidas, super obsessed campaign is the most memorable and close to my heart and I even won an award for the same. I reimagined the entire e-commerce platform and way of presenting the product. What really kicks me about this project is we were able to execute the motion graphics and the design with such limited technologies.
Adidas was promoting its products during the rugby world-cup in New Zealand and they wanted an interface which would engage users and increase the sales. We used motion graphics for the same and presented each product helping users engage with the website and the company had an overwhelming response towards its merchandise.
You have worked with big brands like Coke, Adidas, Nissan etc. What is the most challenging task you have faced while creating brand identities for them?
With the big brands challenges are different because they have crafted their niche and perception of their brand with their target audience. And, when new elements are introduced it is extremely critical to be able to live up to the brand’s goodwill and go much beyond it. So, you must go an extra mile with their users and the stake holders to understand the need and the way positioning has to be done. Moreover, you are very tight with brand guidelines so keeping all the things in mind you have to add new values and present it in a holistic manner.
A glimpse of life at Lollypop Design Studio :
You don the hat of a designer and an entrepreneur. How do you manage them and which role do you enjoy playing the most?
I am a designer by heart and entrepreneur by choice; I will always be a designer first, so, definitely this is what I enjoy the most.
Learning entrepreneurship and managing it was not an easy task. In fact, the journey to entrepreneurship was an absolute turbulent one but this has also been the most memorable journey of my life and has made me learn a lot. The secret of managing both the roles smoothly is that I learnt the importance of the team and expertise they bring along. I realized that I cannot be doing everything and it is best to have the individual field experts as part of the team. It’s only through each one’s contribution that we are able to move closer to our vision every day, I really owe this to my team.
I would also like to mention that it’s important to have advisors in your professional life as your mentors and guide. These are the people who have already crossed the journey you are travelling and they always keep you on track and help you with the big picture when you are lost.
Any final words of wisdom for the artists to bring their creative best in their work?
What I would advise to new and budding designers is that learn to open up, do not limit yourself. You are more then what you think and the more you push and explore yourself, greater would be your repute and level of contentment.
I say this because I have come across lot of designers who say that I am a product designer, I do not know UX/ UI design or that I am an illustrator not a designer. This is self-limiting! You are a DESIGNER, you have the power to design and think and visualize beyond the normal people, use that. Be open to learning and exploring yourself, come out of the comfort zone. For example, I am an artist, a craftsman, a painter, a visual designer, an architect, a photographer and in future I want to direct a movie and open an art college.
To read more about Lollypop UI/UX Design Studio, click here