Which past experiences would you say have shaped your work, design sensibilities, & aesthetic?
I was previously pursuing Engineering for my Bachelor’s, and that was when I realized that I wanted to become a graphic designer. My first internship at OPN Advertising in Chennai has played a huge role in my work. My first client was the Election Commission of India, the Tamil Nadu Election campaign. We basically wanted more people to come and vote, especially those who were going to be voting for the first time. We decided to forego the government’s formal approach to appeal to the younger audience and I suggested we take famous Tamil movie quotes and tweak them to suit our agenda. We got a very good response on this campaign which motivated me to take up graphic communication design as a medium to talk about other issues. I think that cemented my take on what I want to do with my design career.
When I came to CSM I realized that in the 21stcentury technology is playing a huge role in how design is being projected. So instead of diverging to a completely new path, I thought mixing my technology background with design would help.
I try to add a bit of humour to my work, because as a person I try to maintain a sense of levity in every situation, and I try to reflect that in my work. I also have some experience in theatre, because of which I try to infuse a narrative in design. I think these are the three things that influence my work.
What are your personal philosophy and social beliefs in life?
I really admire this saying by a French philosopher called Albert Camus on The Myth of Sisyphus. In this myth Sisyphus, a figure in Greek mythology, is condemned to repeat forever the same meaningless task of pushing a boulder up a mountain, only to see it roll down again. According to Camus once we realize that our day-to-day struggles are as absurd as Sisyphus pushing the boulder up a mountain, we will be happy and reach the state of acceptance that what we are doing is not going to change everything around us. That is when we start taking more risks and live our lives to the fullest. It is something that interests me, and I am still trying to understand it.
As a designer, I realize that we do have a social responsibility, and each of us brings a separate experience to it. For me, I like to use design to intervene in social issues and raise awareness. I don’t think of design as a problem-solving tool, but an intervention. You tackle issues by changing the way something is looked at. That is my philosophy.
What’s your personal style?
Until now I have been a floater and don’t have a specific style. But my personal work and passion projects are heavily influenced by my love of pop culture. Like doing movie posters or webcomics which have references to pop culture. I think it has affected the way I function. It is a theme that you would see in my personal work.
What inspires your work?
I think design does play a role in bringing about social change, and I think if I can be one of the people to contribute to it, that inspires me to create things.
What is your vision for your craft?
I don’t want to be doing things for other people, rather I want to collaborate and work with them.
Who are your favourite artists in your field of work?
One of my all-time favourites that I suggest to people is What if? by Random Munroe. He was a physicist at NASA who quit his job to make webcomics. He makes scientifically accurate answers to absurd questions with illustrations. He has this really sarcastic and dry sense of humour, and he also uses pop culture, so those I absolutely love. With books, I mostly love a lot of graphic novels. There’s this another Canadian artist called Chester Brown who’s recent work is mostly on the legalization of prostitution in Canada. He also has this really dry sense of humour that he’s able to bring out through his work. Also, I’m a huge Batman fan, so any Batman graphic novel.
Your favourite travel destination & why?
When we did a trip to Spain last Easter, we wanted to book an Airbnb in Barcelona but accidentally ended up booking it 100 km from there. And I think that was the best accident that could have happened. It was this really small and quaint town called Roda de Bera, with a population of about a 100. It was one of those places that make you feel really small and insignificant about yourself in the larger painting, but it still gives you this sense of bliss and distance from the rest of the world. I like such places which give you an ego death, that’s what I loved about it.
Your favourite book, film, activity - that motivate & inspire you.
My music would be 70s rock like Eagles, ACDC, and a bit of metal but not the heavy kind, like Metallica and Iron Maiden. I also like hip hop and rap, still exploring this genre but I think I mostly listen to it for the lyrics and the deeper rhythm that they create. I really like Kendrick Lemar and Eminem. The one I’ve been listening to recently is the Spiderman track.
In case of books, my favourites would be the entire Sherlock Holmes series by Arthur Conan Doyle for fiction, and in case of non-fiction, I like to read books on behavioral economics, like Daniel Kahneman or Dan Ariely.