Maya Pillai : Interview With A Photographer/Graphic Designer/Artist

Part-time photographer, part-time cat-stalker. She pays her bills by training school teachers in the art of Design thinking and creative classroom techniques. She burns the midnight oil while trying to figure out how best to combine pencil with a roll of film.
Why are you a Communications Designer?
I have always loved to talk, take pictures and draw. In that order. So becoming a communication designer just sort of happened without my doing much.

Did you attend school for fine art or design?
I went to Symbiosis Institute of Design for their undergraduate program in Graphic design, following which I went to the National Institute of Design to pursue a masters in Photography.

How did you get interested in photography? Do you mostly do paid projects or a lot of personal projects as well.
It was sometime in my undergraduate program that I realized how much I loved the medium. A year of working in an advertising agency after that made that bond even stronger.
I do a bit of both. Currently I’m working at an education company trying to use my communication design skills in ways I hadn’t fathomed were possible before. So I mostly focus on some personal projects in my spare time that rarely ever come out of my harddrive.

Were there any particular role models for you when you grew up?
My sister. She taught me how to read, make up games for when we would get bored, how to stand up for myself and the lyrics to most Abba songs.

Who was the most influential personality in your career in communications and graphic design?
Stefan Sagmeister has been a huge influence over me. His work, his outlook, his crazy desire to do anything he wants, the way he wants, is something I’m still trying to fully understand. And of course, now that Jessica Walsh has come into the picture, they seem to be even better than before. Her 40 days of dating project has both tickled and touched me.

Was there any time when you wanted to quit communications design?
Just before I took up my current job. Hahaha! To be honest I had been doing wedding photography/branding projects for a while and I really felt like I needed a change, that’s when I literally tripped over my current company. The work that they’re trying to do in education is phenomenal and I thought it would be great for me to chip in in any way and use my design and creative skills to make that happen.

Do you have clients who give you steady work or do you advertise for new clients often?
I don’t advertise for new clients very often, work generally comes to me through word of mouth/friends/acquaintances. But of course if anyone is reading this and would like to get in touch with me. Feel free!

Any other Indian graphic designers who you admire?
Oh! There are tonnes. But to name a few, there is of course Sameer Kulavoor, The work that Bombay Duck Designs does has a language of it’s own.
Kriti Monga from Turmeric Design has brought illustrative type in our country to a new level.

What advice do you have for aspiring creative professionals? Would you advise them to take on communications design as a career option?
Eat well and get enough sleep. It’s so easy to suffer from burn out in the creative world, especially with there being so many brilliant people out there. One must never underestimate the power of taking care of yourself.
Getting a cat can help too.

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?
Not yet, no. There are so many good people out there that I think as creative professionals desperate for work, we sometimes set the bar too low for ourselves. This was something I learnt as a student. It’s important to understand the value of your own work first. Educating the industry is something most creatives have already started doing but I think it will take some more time.

Mac or PC?
Mac.

Who would you like to take out for dinner?
My cat. Restaurants in our country are just not letting this dream of ours come true.

What’s on your iPod?
Carla Bruni.

Whats your Twitter Handle?
@mayapillai
You can also follow me on Instagram at @mauspill to keep up with my 100 words in a 100 days project.

Captions for my work images
100words: I’m currently working on a 100 day project where I illustrate one word a day and post it to my Instagram account
Billing Beauty: A photo critique on our obsession with cosmetics and their influence on our lives
Woman on the street: A reaction project to the constant sexual harassment women face on the street
The Illusion of Freedom: This project tries to draw people’s attention to understand the ways in which the media that we consume shapes our opinions and thoughts.

100words

100words: I’m currently working on a 100 day project where I illustrate one word a day and post it to my Instagram account.

Billing Beauty

Billing Beauty: A photo critique on our obsession with cosmetics and their influence on our lives.

Woman on the Street

Woman on the street: A reaction project to the constant sexual harassment women face on the street.

The Illusion of Freedom

The Illusion of Freedom: This project tries to draw people’s attention to understand the ways in which the media that we consume shapes our opinions and thoughts.

3 thoughts on “Maya Pillai : Interview With A Photographer/Graphic Designer/Artist

  1. Deepa Vithalani Ganatra says:

    Great Work, Maya 🙂
    really loved your interview..

    Regards
    Deepa

  2. Ramachandran K says:

    Wow, Mayu. Gr8 work. All d best & God bless.

  3. Saumya says:

    Love your work and expression. Your tone of voice is so distinct! Want to see more of your work 🙂

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