I wound up studying graphic design. It just happened to me.
But now I’m a graphic designer because I get to draw in my capacity as an illustrator and because I get to interact with spheres of knowledge so different than my own.
Did you attend school for fine art or design?
Yep – I went to Srishti School of Art, Desgin and Technology, Bangalore.
You have a distinct style of Design. How long did it take you to develop your style?
I definitely have an aesthetic I tend to use often. I’m a barely out of the closet maximilist. I love profusion. Thankfully India loves it too. I suppose i’ve been developing this sense as long as I’ve been drawing. But it took me a long time during and after design school to be proud of it. There’s a tendency for scandinavian design aesthetic to be aspired to amongst the design community. Even if it isn’t expressly said – there’s a preference towards less is more. That motto has never quite sit well with me. That said, editing is very important too. Whatever you’re putting out needs to make sense as far as I’m concerned. But (and the designers reading this will know what i mean) I have no qualms about titles that are both italicized and bold.
Were there any particular role models for you when you grew up?
This isn’t a person but a style – when I was young it was my dearest wish to draw in the style of popular japanese manga. I was obsessed with the cardcaptors.
Who was the most influential personality on your career in graphic design?
Who “are”. My team, Shubhangi Goel and Rajasee Ray. They’ve shaped me into the whatever I am today.
Also Kruti Saraiya – she’s a practicing typography genius who took an intensive typography class with us in college, She once gave young me the very best advice I can imagine – You don’t need to be good at everything. You can draw and that’s pretty damn great.
I was a subprime typography student – but she encouraged me to work with my now partner at Ladyfingers Co, Shubhangi Goel saying we had complementary skills. She was a got type and I wrote great copy.
When did you start freelancing?
Right after college.
Was there any time when you wanted to quit graphic design?
Yes – ironically, right after I graduated. This was before Ladyfingers Co. None of the agencies I was applying to seemed to be a good fit for me as well as the other way around. I began to question my entire raison d’etre. I was convinced I had nothing much to offer and this all a giant clusterfuck.
I’ve never felt this way again thanks to my team. They’ve been incredibly supportive – I hadn’t found my niche when I was a fresh graduate. This left me feeling vulnerable. Together we’ve come a long way.
Do you have clients who give you steady work or do you advertise for new clients often?
We have a stable set of clients that have over the years come back for many different projects. We also have a good number of new clients every quarter.
Any other Indian graphic designers who you admire?
Sarita Sunder who after years of being a graphic designer is now also engaging in its critical understanding. She took a class with us in college too and it was amazing. I am also inspired by the work of so many of the alumni from Srishti – graphic designers and illustators alike. Some of my juniors are really killing it out there.
What advice do you have for aspiring creative professionals? Would you advise them to take on graphic design as a career option?
Creativity is hard work. It takes practice and its not a simple linear process. On the flip side, in the immortal words of Maya Angelou “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” So it’s the best kind of investment really, it only ever grows.
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?
Honestly those kind of clients are what we in the business call “a fucking amazing client”. They are few and far between. When we land one of them its like Diwali, Christmas, all our birthdays and a super moon rolled into one. Most clients don’t even keep aside a respectable time frame for a job let alone a budget. Most importantly (and I’m not sure this is endemic to India) they’re unclear about the correct time to involve a designer. Most leave it too late.
But it’s changing. And that is heartening.
Mac or PC?
Who would you like to take out for dinner?
Aziz Ansari, Michael Taussig and (as this is completely hypothetical anyway) J.R.R. Tolkien in his capacity as a linguist who taught the epic ‘Beowulf’ at Oxford – we’ll chat about languages, anthropology and modern day love lives.
What’s on your iPod?
My youtube playlist is riddled with the Chainsmokers. But also Cat Stevens, The Police and Billy Joel.
Whats your Twitter Handle?
I’m Tanveenabar on instagram 😛