How did you get into such an offbeat, unconventional and exciting career?
After almost eight years at ad agencies and design studios, I decided to break out as an independent graphic designer in 2011. My only reservation was the lack of monthly financial security you get from a regular job. Besides that I was very ready to do my own thing, and so I decided to go ahead and give it a shot. I have a keen interest in design for lifestyle, music, and particularly fashion. I try to marry graphic design and fashion in different ways – whether it’s branding and communication, illustration or textile prints.
In 2014, I started a year-long graphic design experiment called ‘Something Cool Everyday’, where I set myself the task of creating a graphic art piece everyday. It emerged as a form of personal expression with freedom to experiment in a way that you don’t always get to do with commercial projects. All pieces were based on everyday life – style, travel, personal experiences and observations. This gave me a chance to explore and develop my own identity in design. It turned out to be a project that led to other good projects. For instance, I started doing fashion illustrations inspired by my favourite looks from various fashion weeks which led to a commissioned project for Elle India.
Tell us about your career path
Born and brought up in Mumbai, I was drawn to art as a child, taking part in various art competitions and going for art classes in school. I always knew I wanted to have a career in art. After Junior College I wrote a few entrance tests for Applied Art courses in various universities and that is how I ended up getting into Sophia Polytechnic University. I graduated in 2004, and started out as an Art Director at advertising agencies like McCann Erickson, Contract Advertising and Ogilvy. In February 2008, after a short stint at Fabrica (Benetton’s Visual Arts Research Centre in Italy), I decided to pursue a career in Graphic Design and have since worked with firms like Grandmother India and Rediffusion Y&R Design. The short time I spent at Fabrica was eye opening: the superbly designed building (by Japanese architect Tadao Ando), its provocative work – and working with people from all over the world!
I’m not sure when, exactly, but sometime while I was working at Grandmother India, a design studio in Mumbai.I got to work on a few fashion labels while I was there. Then, while I was at Rediffusion Design, I got the opportunity to work on the Taj Calendar 2011. I conceptualised and designed it along with my creative director, Ashutosh Karkhanis. We worked with 12 different fashion designers on this project, including Rohit Bal, Tarun Tahiliani, Sabyasachi, and Anamika Khanna. Each designer contributed to the visual for one month of the year, inspired by one Taj property. This was a super fun project for me, and that’s when I knew I wanted to pursue fashion communication and design in some way.
You started off in advertising, what made you switch to graphic design?
At the time I was at Ogilvy and applied to Fabrica. They have two rounds of shortlistings – I got through to the first round and went for a trial period which lasted for two weeks and got to work on a couple of projects. It was an eye-opening experience and I got to meet people from around the world who couldn’t even speak English. Those two weeks were amazing – that’s when I saw the kind of work I was creating and questioned why I was in advertising. In my experience with advertising, working on big brands and targeting the masses meant the work I did ended up becoming compromised as it had to appeal to a lot of people. The minute I came back from Italy, I joined a graphic design studio Grandmother in Mumbai and went on from there.
At what point did you decide to go on your own?
After my two years at Grandmother, who were doing a lot of edgy work at the time, I moved to another agency for a year which dissolved and at that time there wasn’t really another place in Mumbai where I wanted to work – so I thought why not give it a shot on my own.
Tell us about your personal project ‘Something cool everyday’?
I don’t know how that started – I think I didn’t have that much work at the time and I wanted to do something proactive so I randomly started it. I thought about it towards the end of the year and started it on January 2014 – It was a year long project inspired by my life at the time, life in Bombay, everyday things, all my interests which eventually led to doing fashion illustrations through that project. I suppose in a sense it was me doodling my experience.
Who are your biggest inspirations?
Craig & Karl Independent graphic artists, who do a lot of fashion related work that all started with working for Colette. I love their distinct and bold style of work. Grandmother India Out of many influences, I would say working at Grandmother India with Kurnal Rawat was quite a turning point for me. They were one of the first design studios to be doing experimental work at the time. Being the first design studio I worked at, it opened my mind up to newer things and gave me a much wider perspective on design. It aesthetically changed me as a person and professional, for the better.