Alchemy & Lore is an independent creative agency. We’re almost 10 years old in 2023. I started out as an individual creative consultant, and soon Bharat joined me owing to multiple projects we were working on together. Cut to 2023 – we’re now a 5 member core team assisted by multiple senior creative consultants – Graphic Designers, Animators, Filmmakers, Copywriters, Illustrators, Editors, and so on.
What made you start Alchemy & Lore? Mostly the unparalleled perk of working in my pyjamas.And then, being trained as an animator, but having worked as a Graphic Designer, Animator, 3D artist, Game Designer, Website Designer and Compositor always felt a bit restrictive. Make no mistake – each role was extremely fun and challenging, but at the same time – made me focus less on the other skills. That, plus the frequent enquiries for freelance or consulting projects made me take the leap and start HSD&C (Which is now Alchemy & Lore) Tell us about your creatives. Did they go into fine art or design schools? How do you pick them up? Our core team basically went to the same grad school as us – Srishti School of Art Design and Technology. The story is more or less the same – having collaborated so frequently, it just made sense to get them to join us, and they were more than happy to.Outside of that, our consultants are from varying backgrounds. Besides the usual art/design school backgrounds, one of our most talented artists is actually a self-taught illustrator and now – budding animator. It’s mostly been discovery through recommendations of our network of friends/professionals, with the rare and occasional post on social media.
One fine day, I quit as National Creative Director of Leo Burnett, India in 2015 and moved to the USA. I set up Simple Creative Inc. there as a pure creative consultancy. And In 2020 I felt the need to do something in India. I shared the idea of starting Studio Simple in India with two friends, Aniket- who has been a successful director/producer, and Anjan – who has worked in traditional agencies, design firms and run his own creative start-up. They agreed and here we are.
What made you start Studio Simple? We wanted to do something creative and constructive together as friends. And each of us has unique, yet complementary skill sets. We put our heads together and went for it with the intention of getting it right. It’s more fun to build something of value using our collective talent and experience. We were confident of our business model and knew that this is the way to work in the future.
Tell us about your crew. Did they go into fine art or design schools? How do you pick them up? None of us went to school or college to do what we do. Our school has been our workplace. We’ve been hands-on and we have crafted our creative personalities by being thirsty for knowledge.
Our extended crew changes with each project and the people we work with come from the best institutes and the best outfits whether they’re strategists, creative folk or film crew.
Can you tell us the process of building a design language for a brand? Design language is similar to the brand voice. The brand will tell you what it stands for if you spend time with it and listen to it hard enough. To give you an example, when I wrote ‘Aaj Kuch Toofani Karte Hain’ for Thums Up, it came from the brand’s legacy of being a strong cola and I gave it an emotional spin without diluting what the brand stood for.
So, the best way is to know the brand inside out is treat it like a person and spend time knowing it on a daily basis. That will show you the way.
What does Studio Simple do which sets it apart? “Why buy a cow when all you need is a glass of milk?”
That’s the mantra we live by. No overheads. No employees. No office-space. The three of us work in a very agile and effective manner. And it works beautifully for us. I divide my time between Washington DC and Mumbai. Aniket lives in Mumbai and Anjan in Delhi. We work across countries, time-zones and do it seamlessly.
Also, we pick our teams according to the need of the project. We employ a process of casting in every aspect of our business. The best person for each job ensures great quality. A ‘one size fits all’ approach is not fair to a client or an idea for that matter.
Video is a very hands-on job. How do you bring economies of scale here? The fact that you get everything from strategy to creative to the final output with us, is a model that is created to give the clients economies of scale without diluting the creative product. Having said that, we charge what we charge and the clients are happy to pay us because they know we don’t compromise on any part of the process. We are cost-effective, not cheap.
Tell us something about Brand Building in the Digital Era. Much harder, but more exciting. When we were doing TV commercials a decade ago, we did one spot and that ran across all channels. There was a sense of forced singularity and it needed to be on point. Now it is fragmented, because the brands can choose to behave differently across different media outlets. A brand might need to adopt an influencer’s style and work their narrative around it. The challenge is to maintain brand values while being versatile in your offering.
Were there any particular role models for you when you grew up? Too many to name. We are inspired on a daily basis by creative people who put stuff out there and we learn and absorb their energy through their output.
Who was the most influential personality on your career in Brand Building? Naming one is impossible. We have learnt things from the legends from a distance and we have learnt stuff from our colleagues who selflessly do amazing work while remaining anonymous. We are an amalgamation of the work done by great people every single day.
Any other Indian branding/advertising firms that you admire? We admire individual pieces work from different agencies, creative shops and social/digital joints. Sometimes the greatest work comes from a person with a smartphone shooting a cheaply produced, yet spot-on piece of creative that racks up millions of views and shares.
What advice do you have for aspiring creative professionals? Take the time. Give the time. Know why you’re doing this. Feed your subconscious on a daily basis with a variety of influences.
Would you advise them to take on advertising/brand building as a career option? Absolutely. The best time to be creative is now. You have all the power to create stuff right there in the palm of your hands. But it is also a very challenging time because everyone knows this fact and the clutter and speed of output is insane. You’ve got to be consistent and put content out continuously. Do not stop.
Who would your team like to take out for dinner? We are very big on gratitude as a team. So, we’d like to host all our clients- present and past. They’ve trusted us solely on our past reputation and credentials. They’ve given us the freedom to handle some really amazing projects. It is both humbling and gratifying. They will always have a seat at our table.
What’s on the company iPod? Spotify? We don’t impose our musical choices on each other. But we do collectively nod our heads in approval for classic rock. The usual Gods – Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd, CCR…you get the drift.
Mac or PC? Notebooks and pens. We’re pretty organic in how we generate ideas. Nothing like putting pen to paper before getting that laptop out.
What’s your Twitter Handle? Instagram? Coming soon! Just been way too busy to get this going.
Anoorupa Bose is a fearless Creative Director. Give her a brief and she’ll come up with an idea that is so bold yet effective, that you’ll want to take the leap with her! Anoorupa is also a fearless human being. She has always fought for her rights and the rights of her teammates at previous agencies where employees were overworked and systematically exploited.
Why are you into Advertising? In advertising, you get to be an artist, a filmmaker, a craftsman, a hacker, a revolutionary for social causes, a public speaker, a writer, a storyteller, a strategist, a musician, a startup incubator, a data analyst, a psychologist, it´s a field that enables you to express your creativity in so many different ways and that’s why I love it!
Did you attend school for fine art or design or Communications? I studied English.
You have been a highly awarded Creative at a very young age. How has that impacted your career? Feels a bit awkward to brag, but yes, in school I was always the most-awarded student in theatre, writing and public speaking competitions – all of which has greatly helped me hone my skills in advertising. Especially theatre, because even before you get to publish your campaign to the public, you need to first pitch that idea face to face to your client, and that’s when all the drama, stage training and public speaking experiences from the past unleash.
Tell us a little about your outfit EtchDesign. What do you do? We are a communication design firm inclined towards almost everything thatis vaguely related to design. Armed with a team of passionate experts, we offer a diverse mix of the tangible and intangible aspects of design – from branding & identity design to environmental & spatial design, event design & event collaterals to packaging, print, web interfaces and digital graphics. Not limited to just this, we like to get our hands into every newfangled idea that comes our way. We love to collaborate and work with inspired photographers, copywriters, printers, architects and other creatives who bring sparkle to our ideas and can make the end result better than imagined. Our pursuit to capture the spirit of what our clients want to communicate is strengthened by the relationship we share with them. We are all about building that great experience.
What made you start EtchDesign? Ever since I understood design, I loved it and wanted to be a part of it. After getting into NIFT (in one shot – woohoo), I became even more confident of my passion. After some valuable work experience at various companies, I set up my own studio, one of the first communication design studios in Jaipur city.
“We started YUWEUS almost a year and a half ago as a new-age brand communication ideas agency. Why new-age? Well, we approach work with a modern-world ideology – we believe in the power of collaboration and we focus on sharp, efficacious solutions.“
“We have tried to step beyond the regular and craft solutions that are creatively innovative and razor-sharp. So, when Rotary International briefed us on spreading Thalassemia awareness, we achieved it through a 5500 km India Long Drive. When East India Pharma wanted to connect with people during the festive season, we created a film series of 6 quirky #NonstopPetPuja Tales that was viewed by 2.25 lakh people online. And when a Durga Puja committee in Kolkata desired to garner higher eyeballs than its most popular neighbour, we brought in pundits from Banaras to perform live Ganga Aarti and create the ultimate show-stopper for every pandal-hopper.“
What made you start YUWEUS? A) We were tired of the regular. B) We saw the potential of converting businesses into brands. C) We sensed the need of new-age brand communication models. It might come to you as a surprise but Kolkata, where we are, is a thriving hub of entrepreneurship. There is an A-list of homegrown companies doing great business, but unfortunately that’s where they have stagnated. They have never considered taking the brand building approach. With us having connections in various business houses and with over 2 decades on individual experience in brand communication, we have set a vision to apply new-age models, including tech integration, to sprout brands out of businesses.
“Adrift Communications and Influencer Marketing is a boutique communications firm based out of Gurgaon, Haryana, India. We handle PR (traditional and online), content services, Influencer Marketing and social media services for our clients.
I started Adrift in 2017 after spending 17 years in the communications world, including holding leadership positions in global PR firms in India – as Associate Managing Director, Cohn & Wolfe India and Senior Vice President, Fleishman Hillard, India. Having managed most roles in my communication experience, I decided to challenge myself and take the next big jump of starting my own venture.“
What made you start Adrift Communications? Would you call Adrift a modern PR Company or a marketing company? Adrift is a modern, boutique PR & Influencer Marketing firm. We are intent on doing high-end strategic and quality work for our clients. We currently offer some services like PR and content but we are looking to build our digital capabilities over a period of time.
I started Adrift after realising that there is a vaccum in the market for brands entering the market but could not afford to pay high fee to large global firms and because they could not pay such high fee amounts, they did not get the senior level of counselling that they actually needed. The core idea of setting up Adrift was to offer an alternative to these clients – a strategic firm offering services at same level as global firms without being expensive. At Adrift, the team is handpicked from global PR firms and we ensure senior level servicing to all our clients.
A little about your outfit Cranberry Design Studio. What do you do? Cranberry Design Studio is a Graphic Design and Digital Marketing organization. We are based out of Pune and service clients across the globe. We are a young and vibrant company specializing in Branding, Marketing Communication, Website Designing, UI/UX, SEO, Social Media Marketing and lots more.
What made you start Cranberry Design Studio? I have studied MBA in Marketing and through my career in Retail Marketing, I worked very closely with Advertising and was instrumental in a lot of design decisions that would drive business. I enjoy the creative communication field and hence, Cranberry Design Studio! I came up with the name only because I love cranberries!
Reverse Thought is a young, vibrant creative hotspot. It is a confluence of designers and developers who aspire to create something out-of-the-box, outstanding for clients and more importantly themselves. Reverse Thought specializes in the BAD- Branding, Audio-Visual & Digital.
Is ReverseThought primarily an illustration and design company? Do you also work on brand building and corporate identities? Reverse Thought is all about Branding, Audio Visual Communication and Digital. At our core we are a design company with deep strength in technology to execute the design. Illustrations form a part of our projects in many ways. We have built corporate identities for a number of upcoming companies and clients.
Tell us about your designers. Did they go into fine art or design schools? How do you pick them up? Our designers come from some of the most premier design schools in India like the JJ School of Arts, MIT Institute of design and more. We select our candidates purely on the strength of their portfolio and past work. We hire freshers as well, and again our single criterion remains the quality of work done at school project level.
How would you define the design style at Reverse Thought? We are best known for our clean, clutter free contemporary design style. Every project is tailored to the client brief and overall vision of the project. On the digital front, we have moved to creating concept based, experiential web projects that have grabbed a lot of attention.
What does Reverse Thought do which sets it apart? We think that our main differentiating factor besides our design style and ethos is our ability to understand what would work well for our clients based on their industry, competition and aspirations. That apart, we are sticklers of quality and expect pixel-perfect output for all our projects and achieve it. It is the small details that count and we understand that completely.
Who was the most influential personality on your career in Brand Building? I worked across a lot of agencies before starting Reverse Thought and I was deeply impacted by Kurnal Rawat. His innate creativity and passion for design were highly inspiring and influences my thought process even today.
What made you start Reverse Thought? I think I always wanted to start off with something of my own. I was working as a freelancer during my days as a designer and had started acquiring a lot of projects due to my work and positive referrals from my clients. A lot of my projects would get listed on international web galleries. At one point I felt that it was time to get into an organized agency format and hence Reverse Thought was born.
How important is the focus on good design in Reverse Thought? It is paramount. We stand for great design and without that we would pretty much have no entity at all.
Are you working with any advertising agencies? Any brands? We do work with digital marketing agencies from time to time. Some of the corporate houses that we work for are Welspun India, Vardhman Textiles, Pudumjee Group, Future Group, Bayer Crop Science and more.
What do you feel about the state of design in India? Do you feel that our collective aesthetics need to improve? There is some exceptional design talent in India. Our design sensibilities are different from the west, but that’s what makes it exciting. I love the vibrancy and quirkiness of our designs is what sets us apart. However, the execution of our design and its application needs to go through a lot of change. We need to combine strategy with art, functionality with aesthetics, vision with execution. But that is a different discussion altogether.
What advice do you have for aspiring creative professionals? Would you advise them to take on graphic design as a career option? First off, I’d like to advise that the creative field requires passion to succeed. So choose it only if you are passionate about it. My advice to aspiring creative professionals is that they should develop a solution driven approach. Constantly challenge your concepts and look for inspiration everywhere. Graphic design can be one of the most personally satisfying careers if you have a passion for it.
Who would your design team like to take out for dinner? MC Escher. But unfortunately it’s too late for that!
What’s on the company iPod? All the latest Bollywood madness.
“We work with brands to create telling stories across mediums. Our design has a strong content connect and it attracts brands looking for the same. We operate like a record label, encouraging senior artists to manage their own studio and team. We now have studios in Bangalore, Goa and Kochi.”
What made you start Watercrab? It was three of us. It was a seemingly good idea at the time.
Tell us about your creatives. Did they go into fine art or design schools? How do you pick them up? The copywriters? Most of the designers are from Fine Art schools. The copywriters are usually people who had enough of other industries. We look at portfolios, rather than resumes. Although, quite a lot of people apply as first-timers, especially for copy, so we administer a copy test. Most of the recruitment happens through our network, which is still the best way to find creatives in India.
Is there a ‘Creative Brief’ format that Watercrab follows? We know the better the brief, the better the creatives… Yes of course, we have a skeleton brief for each medium which we then tweak heavily for each client.
What does Watercrab do which sets it apart? One as I mentioned above is the strong content-based design. Secondly, and it’s something clients learn as they go along; we put a lot of effort into even the smallest of creatives, even if it’s an email signature or an employee ID badge, as long as it is part of the story, we try to make it unique. And third, since each of our studios is headed by a senior creative partner, there are uniquely different creative styles to choose from.
Were there any particular role models for you when you grew up? Answering this collectively – None that were related to design.
Who was the most influential personality on your career in Brand Building? The founder at the previous agency we all worked in. He taught us how to be entrepreneurs and he taught us the power of good design.
How important is the focus on good design in Watercrab? Good design or die.
Do you function like a traditional advertising agency? Or would you call yourself more of a graphic design/branding agency? At this stage we are neither. It’s always a combination of things that tells the story best. Branding, graphic design, advertising, UI Design, motion graphics, whatever it takes.
What do you feel about the state of design in Brand Building in India? It’s a good time to be alive. From small studios, to international powerhouses, the design landscape is evolving at top speed. Everyday we come across new studios, and are awe-struck by their work.
Any other Indian agencies you admire? Ishan Khosla, Taproot, Elephant Design. There are so many that we admire (but can’t remember)
What advice do you have for aspiring creative professionals? Would you advise them to take on graphic design as a career option? Or Advertising and brand building? Learn all sides of the industry. Designers need to understand copy to create great design. Copywriters need to understand design to write relevant copy. And they both need to understand servicing.
Who would your design team like to take out for dinner? Humble Politician Nograj, Saul Bass when he was alive.
What’s on the company iPod? Gangster Rap
Mac or PC? PC
Whats your Twitter Handle? We don’t have one. Find us on Instagram : crabogram
A little about your outfit Our Little Studio. What do you do?
Our Little Studio is a leading design studio in Delhi, providing services Globally. Started in 2015 by Disha Gupta Sangal and Incorporated in 2017.
Our Little Studio helps organizations and businesses in developing context-driven design solutions. We offer creative design services and branding to our clients around the world. We are a team of young and talented creative minds. We love working together with our clients, as we believe that great results emerge when a passionate client meets a passionate designer.