“Design is an investment”
Tell us a bit about the beginning of your career as an artist. How did you start? Have you always known this is what you wanted to do?
As a child, I was quite clueless about everything. In school I was studying Math and Science but I knew my heart was not in it. I loved to paint, draw, sketch, make, click photographs and just zone out. My dad made me aware of schools where art and design was taught and I knew that this is what I’d like to explore. Beginnings have always been tough. I’m sure it will always be. Just when I feel that I’m comfortable and happy enough with whatever I’m doing, I get bored of it and I find myself back at square one; though the ‘square’ changes every time. I’m learning to enjoy this frustrating process.
What kind of formal training did you undergo to become a visual artist and what role has it played in your growth?
I studied Visual Communication and Strategic Branding at Srishti Institute of Art Design and Technology. More than the skills that I acquired, I’m grateful for the experience and exposure I got at Srishti. Recently I was reading the book, Elements of Design: Rowena Reed Kostellow and the Structure of Visual Relationships by Gail Greet Hannah. In the book it is mentioned somewhere, that there’s a mind to be owned but there’s also a soul to be owned. Both must happen hand in hand. Fours years of art and design education have instilled a similar way of thinking, not just in a linear fashion but also radially and inside out. I intend to understand this mindset more so as to experiment and find newer avenues of working.
What is your workflow pattern right from planning to execution for any assignment?
I love pen and paper. I like to begin every project with countless scribbles and doodles. It helps me think. While I do this I also begin researching. I enjoy work that is deeply rooted in research. I try to do the same. I think it lets you have a vision that you might not otherwise. It is always a very enthusiastic beginning, a middle part that involves to and fro processes to make, scrutinize, edit and then make again and an ending, which always leaves me uncertain with what I’ve done. I think this very thing drives me to do more, hoping I’d do better next time.
Your work involves being creative. Where does the inspiration come from?
Everywhere and nowhere. Irwin Dermer noted, “How many ‘faces’ lie hidden, waiting for the time when curious eyes will find them in their secret places. In the heart of a leaf or the bark of a tree. In a frozen pond or the turning sea. In the twist of a chair or the look of a key or the shriveled skin of an elephant’s knee.”
Typically, what does your day look like?
Irregular and chaotic with me trying hard to follow a schedule and failing miserably. Though at times I get some work done in between.
Which has been your most challenging/memorable project and why?
My book, ‘Dyslexia: A Mind of Gold’ has been my most challenging and memorable project. I’ve been working on it for more than a year now. The book is designed for parents with kids diagnosed with dyslexia. While dealing with sensitive and information heavy content, the book has a light, informal and colourful tone. It brands dyslexia as a boon and guides parents to ‘un-hide’ the genius within their child. The aim of the book is to let parents know why they should and how they can, own up to their child’s dyslexia proudly.
It has been memorable for many reasons. Firstly, I never thought I’d do something like this, not even remotely. It was very unexpected. Secondly, the way I experienced life because of doing this project has sensitized me on multiple levels. It made me feel extremely happy and content.
I encountered challenges every step of the way. Initially it was to figure out how can I re-brand dyslexia as a boon. Then the usual questions followed – Who is it for? What is it? Why should it be the way I imagine it to be? What’s the point? Is it beautiful enough? What’s next? Is it of actual impact? What value does it add to the existing scenario? I think the hardest part for me was to defend my idea of making my book not so serious though it has very sensitive and heavy content. I was suggested to make it have a serious and formal tone because it is for parents, I never did. I genuinely feel that dyslexia is like a party going on in the child’s head and my book is an invitation to that party. Now, can an invitation to a party be boring and serious?
You work with a lot of big clients. What is the most challenging task you face when working with big brands?
Management. It is quite a task to make people understand the importance of good design. Though things are now changing but there is a long way to go. I think design is an investment and many times you don’t get returns immediately. Another thing that I’ve noticed is uncertainty among clients. They don’t know what they need but they feel they do. As a designer I’ve felt that I need to strategically plan the entire process apart from the actual designing.
What skills or what kind of potential should be there in artists to collaborate with such big brands?
Persistence and less of ego. Whether we like it or not, I don’t think artists and designers in India get the respect they should. Instead of fighting for it, simply getting work done helps.
Any final words of wisdom for the artists to bring their creative best in their work?
Read, watch, observe and feel – A lot more than usual. And dream big, I seriously mean it. If you have a dream of painting the Eiffel Tower red, just go for it. If not that, at least you might end up doing something crazy in Paris.
To see more of Param’s work, click here