In Conversation with Devika Gupta
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am a Graphic Designer. I have a background in English literature which enabled me to branch out into graphic design. It has influenced my work in a major way as in addition to the visual, I am also interested in the narrative part of the work. So for me, it is about combining words with design as much as I can. Be it poetry, a concept, it could be a simple word, I want to explore the various facets to it.
Which past experiences would you say have shaped your work, design sensibilities, & aesthetic?
I learnt a lot through trial and error. During my time in college, I was interested in both fine arts and computers, so I put the two together. But I did not know a lot about the printing process, which is why I decided to go to University to learn about printing, and that’s how LCC (London College of Communication) happened. It exposed me to whole new European ideals and brand of design, involving the Swiss system of layouts, typography, the grid system combining colour and imagery in that particular style. That has been a defining point when it comes to my approach to design and has given my initially abstract approach a structure and finesse.
The third phase would be working commercially in Bombay. It has taught me how to mould my work to suit the audience.
What is your personal philosophy in life?
To have a duty towards one’s calling, and to work with integrity to achieve it. Also to strive to muster up enough positivity to radiate it, every day. My personal philosophy is deeply interlinked with my approach to art. With regard to design, I believe in creating designs that I haven’t seen before. I am aware that all art is a reproduction and do very well agree with this, but how novel can we be in this reproduction, that keeps me challenged every day.
What’s your personal style?
Free-flowing, individualistic, abstract albeit with a framework. Design is a form of release for me, and it may sound pretty run-of-the-mill, but it largely reflects my personality - specifically my easy-going, calm, often eclectic demeanour. By and large, I enjoy integrating vivid imagery in my work as you may have already noticed. In most of my work, I experiment with colour, type and photography. I try and weave in poetry and music as well from time to time, so hereby my style is an encapsulation of my varied interests which bleed into one another more often than not. These inspire and fuel my work, as it is only with design that I can make sense of all of them in cohesion.
What inspires your work?
I think my varied interests in music and writing inspire my work the most.
What is your vision for your craft?
I want to be able to use my design to influence society in some way. I don’t want to be overtly blatant in my approach to social change but keep it more subtle. Commercial work is where I start to work towards it.
Who are your favourite artists in your field of work?
Wassily Kandinsky, Claude Monet, Josef Müller-Brockmann, Noma Bar, Malika Favre, Timothy Goodman among others. I also like a lot of fine artists. Like S H Raza, I really like his style of concentric circles and the symbology of the circle and the universe.
What is your favourite travel destination & why?
I really like Spain, especially Barcelona for its pace and vibe. Its architecture, art scene, and all the lovely museums, I think Barcelona has something to satisfy all my interests.
What are your favourite book, film, music - that motivate & inspire you?
I really liked The Outsider by Albert Camus. He was an existentialist and a philosopher. What I like about the book is that it is very simply written. There is a certain amount of realness to this book that I really like. In a nutshell, it talks about how nothing is wrong or right and explores different shades of grey. It’s about this guy who murders his own mother, he does a lot of questionable things but it is surprising how in the end the reader is left wondering whether he did the right thing or the wrong thing. Camus masterfully depicts the character with so many different shades and makes you sympathise with him, I really appreciate books with such a bend. I also like The Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri, and Imagist Poetry - An Anthology by Dover Thrift Editions. This book has had a lasting impact on me - my experimentations with poetry and visual art stem from my interest in this genre of poetry.
Like mostly all others, I have had my phases with music. I have taken an interest in everything from acoustic rock to electro-pop. Though I’m currently finding solace in indie-pop (the music of I Am Oak, William Fitzsimmons, Sufjan Stevens), you can find everything from Shaggy to Simon and Garfunkel in my library.
There is this movie that has really stuck with me, called Synecdoche New York. It’s an extremely underrated movie. It talks about a miniature version of New York created on a theatre set by a director who employs doppelgangers of people in his everyday life to play the same characters. Eventually, the line between fiction and reality blurs which is very interesting to watch. It is very dystopian in nature.