Creatives from around the world.

Akshita Bhalla : In Conversation With A Creative Brand Strategist

A hopeless brand romantic with over a decade of experience in digital marketing, Akshita Bhalla is all set to create her own space in the industry as an independent professional. She has worked with brands like Dabur, OPPO India, Domino’s, Bajaj Finserv and more.

Why are you into Advertising/Brand Strategy?
Because it is the most exciting world, full of imagination, ingenuity & impact. People rarely care about the business but they will connect with a brand. They influence everything, from our basic daily choices to pop culture – so I enjoy being a cog in the system, and taking a brand’s vision and purpose further. The thrill, the challenge – I love it all!

Did you attend school for fine art or design or Communications?
I did, in Communications. Bachelors in Mass Media & Mass Comm (BMMMC) from Delhi University.

Do you think brands whose advertising wins awards, do well in the market?
Not necessarily. There definitely must be impact on sales, but most brands don’t look at award campaigns as a tool for selling, they look at it to highlight impact on society or to take a stand or simply for brand love. If we take the example of Cannes Lion winner ‘The Swedish Number’ definitely did wonders for its tourism numbers, but what Visit Sweden truly got from the campaign was a chance to showcase the nature of hospitality, their personality as a country. That’s what made it tick, really.


Pooja Dhingra: Conceptualiser

Pooja Dhingra is an independent conceptualiser, art director and a graphic designer and has previously worked with Play Clan- India’s first graphic design store, as a creative lead.
She is also the founder of Compassion Contagion, an online archive that has been recording acts of compassion, hope and resilience through art, collages and graphic narratives.

Her work at Play Clan was mostly research and travel based bringing tales from Jodhpur, Banaras, Japan, Nagaland, Bhutan and other places to the forefront. She has also
worked on various collaborations with Paul Smith, Oxford Bookstore, India Art Fair, Tokyo Fashion Week in India, Mehrangarh Museum Trust etc.

As a freelancer, she has designed for non profits such as National Foundation for India; Pravah; Barefoot College,Tilonia; Apnalaya; Room to Read; Communities for Conservation, Khoj Foundation, Communities for Conservation, Canada; WNCB: Work:No Child’s Business; PSBT to name a few. She has worked on projects that address the issues of discrimination and social exclusion, campaigns designed to address early and child marriage, child labor, women’s nutrition, health and reproductive rights of adolescent girls. She has also been designing and art directing festival graphics for India International Centre’s The Festival of Arts for the last six years.

Her personal work revolves around waste management, sustainability, and addressing the patriarchy through humour and satire.

Her work has been featured in the Ladies Finger, Asian Age, The Better India, Khirkee Voice-Khoj Foundation, Mint Lounge and in British Council’s campaign ‘She Leads’ as one of their most favourite women creators from India.

She has exhibited her zines and comics at Bombay Underground Zine Festival ; Gayzi Zine Festival ; The Zine Show at MIT Institute of Design ; TIFA Working Studio, Pune; Art Book Depot, Jaipur.

Why are you a Conceptualizer/ Art Director?
I think I enjoy being a conceptualiser because I like to work on projects that allow me to be experimental in my approach. I have converted lengthy case studies into folk inspired artworks, made graphic novels for annual reports and have researched and simplified Mughal history to create a pack of playing cards. I rely heavily on research to design and feel that a strong concept and good storytelling are essential components for good

As an art director, I get to work on a project from start to finish which involves researching, storyboarding, creating the vision and the visual language based on clients’ brief. I also find it exciting to put the team together- finding artists I can collaborate with to translate ideas into illustrations. Once the illustrations come in, I do the final layouts/ design and also handle the production- choosing the materials and techniques, working with the printing press etc.

Did you attend school for fine art or design or Communications?
I did my B.A. from Lady Shri Ram College and then studied Fashion Communication at NIFT, Delhi. In the course, there was just a short module on Graphic Design. After the course, I joined a design studio and that’s where I learnt everything I know about design.


Reema Mehta : In Conversation With A Creative Brand Strategist

Reema is a brand strategist with a rich experience in branding and business with three Masters Degrees as well as work experience across five countries. She recently graduated from the Master’s in Branding program at the School of Visual Arts, New York where she was awarded a Brand Masters Award for academic excellence.
Her previous Masters Degrees were in Management and Strategy & Consulting at EDHEC Business School in France after which she did marketing internships with Bosch in Singapore and L’Oréal in Dubai. She then worked as a Brand Strategist and Business Development Manager for 4 years at Elephant Design, India where she played a pivotal role in being a brand partner to over 30 clients such as Nestlé, Uber, Colgate, Kellogg’s, among others.
She was awarded the honor of being on India’s Top 30 under 30 list for talented individuals in the Media and Advertising ecosystem by Impact Magazine.
She is passionate about DIY crafting which led to her founding a start-up ‘Cardit’ where she handcrafts cards & home décor products. She loves learning about different cultures through travel and media. Her personal project on Love Languages explores love in various cultures across the world.

Why are you into Branding?
A brand exists in the minds of people. It is an idea that people collectively believe in. Branding is the act of creating differentiation to help form a connection with people. It is creative storytelling and has the potential to inform human behavior. The power to affect social change through creativity is what draws me to the field of branding.

Tell us something about NYC’s School Of Visual Arts.
New York City is a destination for several creative minds and SVA has been fostering such artists, designers, and creative professionals since its founding in 1947. I pursued the Master’s in Branding program at SVA, which is the first and longest-running program of its kind in the world. The accelerated one-year program offers students the opportunity to learn from industry experts, work on real-world client projects, and a chance to get mentored by successful professionals.