Abhinai Srivastava is an independent Graphic Designer with an experience of 14 years of commercial work in India and United Kingdom. He has been involved in providing visual communication solutions to clients like Pepsi, Wizcarft, Vango, Yamaha, Sahara Star etc. while during his stint at multiple corporate agencies in the past. Currently, he is working on his upcoming start-up in home décor e-commerce category. In his leisure time, he enjoys automotive content and mobile gaming*
Why are you a Graphic/UI Designer?
Since I can remember in my childhood, I always observe things in minutest of details whether it was the typographic logo on Limca & GoldSpot bottles or the colour composition in a mural ad. on the city street wall. The way things were built and designed in my surroundings intrigued me. I always loved to scribble at the back pages of my ‘rough copy’ in school and never ran out of ideas on what to draw.
I see myself as a ‘visual storyteller’ who loves to create things for an audience to see and respond. Producing original and unique prospective to any project is highly influential to why I design commercially.
Did you attend school for fine art or design or online classes?
I have done Bachelors of Fine Arts (BFA) from Lucknow University and then went to University for the Creative Arts, Surrey, UK for Masters in Graphic Design and Communications course, followed by 2 years of agency job there.
You have a distinct style of Design. How long did it take you to develop your style?
I love minimalistic way of things, in art and personal lifestyle as well. Fresh, easy on eyes elements are my favourite design form and has always been my first choice in design method and approach. As we say, less is more, I actually find it more creatively challenging to come up with clean design solutions that are practical yet accomplish the narrative.
Any style of design requires time, studying and real world applications in order to fully understand it, even if you are good at it naturally. With design industry standard changing every second, it’s very important to keep yourself updated through constant learning and research.
How did you get attracted towards UI Design? When did you realise you loved doing it and wanted more of it?
When I left agency job and started my own entrepreneurial journey back in 2015-16, my role as the founding member and design head of an automotive price comparison website required me to come up with a revolutionary new front end design. On research, it became evident that there was no web portal in India, that served huge quantity of automobile product information in a quick, direct and easy way. Hence, I approached the problem of showing complex data with a clean and minimalistic design language, resulting in deeper involvement in front end UI/UX design.
After months of wireframe planning, brand kit development and final execution, we were able to come with the most unique web based product which later saw a monthly content engagement of 1 million+ audience worldwide through company’s website and social media channels combined. Later on, we were also organically contacted by Nexus Venture Partners who were very interested in our start-up journey.
Were there any particular role models for you when you grew up?
I believe, unconsciously I learned a lot from my mother when it comes to aesthetics and keeping things proper. Being a homemaker, her way of living had an instinctive role in the way I saw everyday life. She herself is a very creative person who loves to sing, stich and sketch in her leisure time. Her artistic viewpoint was definitely an influential factor in fostering interest towards graphic designing in my young days.
Who was the most influential personality on your career in graphic design?
My university professor Mr. Damian Chapman who is not only a great teacher but a great listener and problem solver as well. My one year Masters course under him in University in UCA, UK completely change my design intellect. It was literally a 360 degree turnaround in the ideas and research that clearly upscaled my potential as a creative person. The guidance by him shaped my academics and professional career, and till date it helps me make self-critical creative choices. I can’t thank him enough for it his time and patience.
When did you start freelancing?
I have never done freelancing in India except few short projects in UK back in 2009-10. Freelance work never appealed to me as a design career may be because I was never good at ‘selling’ myself out there in the real commercial world. I always wanted to create something of my own and work independently. However in my entrepreneurial journey in recent years, I have come to realise a hard fact that selling/marketing your work or product is equally, if not more important than just creating it.
How is the design scene in Lucknow?
Lucknow as a city does offer opportunities for creative individuals but it definitely could be better. One can easily get a beginner or mid-level designer job post college but the pay scale and work culture might be a concern for few. However, I have witnessed increasing number of solo design entrepreneurs who have taken up full time freelancing work and serving their clients base, locally and globally through online platform that offer creative partnership between designers and brands/organizations. Was there any time when you wanted to quit graphic design?
Not at all. It is the only thing I enjoy the most and can see myself doing it for lifetime. A designer might take a break, but never retires, because the mind never stops imagining. Just like any profession, excelling in art & design has its own learning path and professional timeline. It’s also one of those very few rewarding career where it’s hard to get bored at your job coz there are new artistic challenges every day. For me, it’s a soul satisfying profession that earns you a living as well.
Are many advertising agencies hiring graphic/UI designers? Do you work more with agencies or publishers or direct clients?
A good advertising and marketing agency would indeed have a team of in-house designers who work on brand campaigns and brief. Other than regular OOH marketing projects for brands, social media marketing as a separate category itself, has also become huge in terms of budget allocation and performance centric ROI, resulting in demand for more graphic designers who can deliver creative solutions for multiple marketing platforms.
I don’t take up freelancing or agency work now and currently working on my upcoming e-comm start-up.
How do you market yourself?
I actually don’t, that’s coz I am very bad at promoting myself as a creative person but I do plan to strategically campaign for my upcoming company which will be launched soon on multiple e-commerce platforms in India.Any other Indian graphic/UI designers who you admire?
I don’t follow any particular designer as such for inspiration or reference. I prefer indulging in diverse creative work of multiple creators because every individual has something unique that has never been produced or imagined before.
What advice do you have for aspiring creative professionals? Would you advise them to take on graphic design as a career option?
Absolutely, but only if they ‘really’ think they are good at visual arts and could become best with right guidance and academic exposure. The salary of graphic designer varies from thousands to even lac+ in India, with bright future prospects to head a design team or become a creative director, as you move up the professional ladder.
Do you think Clients are opening up to keeping aside a decent respectable budget for design work? Do you think clients are understanding that they need to invest in Design as a communication tool and also to cut the clutter, and that good design comes at a price?
It’s a 50:50 ratio I would say. Some clients really understand design aspect of the branding and presentation and some fail to see the point in spending substantial resources on innovative visual language for their business and services. The priority also depends on type of demography, marketing budget and customer base, a brand is targeting.
Mac or PC?
I have been using Mac since 2010 and have never gone back to PC since. For designers like me, it is easier to focus on creating stuff on Mac and not worry about the reliability of the hardware. With almost all the windows software now available in Mac compatible version, one won’t miss PC until he or she is a hardcore gamer. That’s where PC wins.
Who would you like to take out for dinner?
Ricky Gervais. He is one creative person who has the talent to make you laugh, cry and laugh again, in an span of 60 seconds. Those who don’t know, he is a UK based comedian, actor, writer and director of many British television sitcoms. His latest series “After Life” is now Netflix’s most watched series ever, globally. It would be very interesting to chat with him about how he does so many arty things right, all the time.
What’s on your iPod? Spotify?
I keep a mix of artist but Coldplay and Arjit Singh playlist is permanent.
Whats your Twitter Handle? Instagram?
Not active on twitter anymore but my Instagram handle is ‘abhinai_21’