Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Design and Me

I am really happy that to FINALLY step out of full-time professional graphic designing. But looking back, I feel even happier that over the last few years, as a just-out-of-college, clueless youngster, my career was subjected to a bit of experimentation. Including my summer vacation jobs, I have dabbled in sales, reception, journalism and design. But it was my not-so-short stint as a graphic designer that really enriched my life. Some ‘mistakes’, you see, are not to be regretted.

My first real job as a graphic designer was at the Gowandi-based Web Animation Studio, which was, in those days, bustling with full-on 3d, flash, html, photo shop activity. I guess I was lucky to get a break THERE, of all the places. We had cool projects. It was fun to be in a place where interesting work happened.

The first assignment on my plate was a CD-presentation for a leading internet service provider. This was the project that taught me to create a flash presentation, and all that goes into it. It was a team effort with one script-writer, two voice-recording artists, one illustrator, one graphic designer, 3 flash designers , one video-editing guy and one project co-ordinator working on it. I was co-ordinating the project and took over as the flash designer towards the end. I also got a chance to witness a voice-over recording session, with me supervising it. The recording studio, tucked away in an old Chembur bungalow, was the first that I had seen. Well, I also learnt that voice-over artists get paid pretty well and their job looks like so much fun! I also learnt the importance of crystal clear communication. When so many people are working together, a lack of communication alone can disintegrate the project. And, I have seen that happen. All in all, this project was quite a learning experience.

Another memorable part my design career was the Myspace Secret Show concert, that we had organized, just a month or so before we went jobless. I ACTUALLY, got the opportunity, to design the stage-backdrop, apart from T-shirts! It was amazing. Even now, sometimes I see a random guy on the road wearing a Secret shows T-shirt. Feels nice.

Days at WAS and MySpace were spent in scouting for images, templates, fonts, inspirations….This is how I discovered stock images, stock illustrations, Template monster, photoshop tutorials, deviant art, dafont, Smashing magazine etc...It opened up a whole new world of art and beauty to me, which showed me just how much serious talent exists out there. I was totally awed. It inspired me to learn illustration and I went on to draw my very first portrait, which I proudly uploaded on my blog. The collectible posters at MySpace were a revelation. What coolness! I would say the biggest thing that I gained in the design-terrain, is the inspiration to explore my creative side.

As a web designer, I ended up learning and using, many more smaller softwares, apart from Photoshop and Flash. Now I can create my own ringtones etc in a sound editing software. Upload/Download files using FTP, Convert FLV to mp3, create basic html pages... This quickness and comfort with new softwares, is all thanks to the demands of the profession. Otherwise, I probably wouldn’t have taken the time to learn anything out of the way. Being a web designer myself, I designed a website for my mother’s matrimonial bureau. Today, I manage it myself, with occasional help from my php-developer friend, Roy. I also print my own wall-posters, and I can design my own Tee-shirts (although I haven’t yet gotten around to doing that YET!)

And last but not the least, I look back at my designing career fondly, because of all the wonderful people that I met, all the friends that I made….Yogi - my boss at WAS, Abdul - my walking-talking photoshop tutorial kit, Sunny – my reporting manager at MySpace, Dolly – colleague and friend at MySpace….

I am glad that all this happened to me. However, slowly, as I became more serious about a career, I had began to realize that I didn’t really belong. Although, I could have survived long enough, as a mid-level designer, I couldn’t really envision a future bright enough. I did not see myself as a commercially viable graphic designer, and neither was I interested in coding and implementation. But the main problem, was switching careers. How would I do it? But my mind was made up, and here I am.