Alishka Shah

We recently caught up with Mumbai based designer Alishka Shah! Alishka talked to us about her love for the colourful culture she gets to experience day in and out in the 'city of dreams' and told us that the best advice she was ever given was, ‘try and do one thing every day, that I couldn't have done yesterday.’ We love the diversity in her work and the way she thinks about design and the future of the industry. Thank you Alishka for sharing your story and beautiful work with us!

Where did you study and what were some of your first jobs?

I recently graduated from National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad where I pursued a bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design and was also enrolled into a study abroad program at Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne. As seats of culture and inspiration, these institutes have played a pivotal role in shaping my principles and practices as a visual communication designer, not only my means of rich resources and mentorship, but also by ensuring that the fundamentals and design ethos was embedded deep within me. Along the four years of my design education, I have interned at Lopez Design, a creative design studio based in New Delhi, which further enriched my love and learning towards core design domains of branding and communication strategies. I went on to work with ESPN, India as a part of my graduation thesis to design stop-motion creatives for the 2019 World Cup and am currently working at the Samsung R&D Institute, Bangalore as a visual designer for the UX team.

Give us an elevator pitch on what you do.

In the simplest of words – I observe, analyze, experiment and create. My work usually falls under the categories of print and interactive publication design, design research, branding, editorial design and illustration. I am in equal parts drawn to the form, as I am to the functional aspects of design. While there is no particular theme, treatment or style that I restrict myself to, I actively try to tackle subjects that are socially driven, sensitive and often shied away from. I particularly enjoy dabbling with mediums and matter of various kinds to see how design can lend itself across unique landscapes to solve, enhance, inform, perform, evoke and provoke.

Mumbai, with its fast-paced, bustling dynamism is a coastal capital studded with crowded lanes of street food stalls, beaches and flea bazaars, leaving it to be nothing short of an explosion of colour, culture and spice.

How does the local culture of where you live affect your design work and getting clients?

Experiencing the local culture and imbibing the native spirit has been a crucial mandate and has had a massive influence on my understanding and application of design in an Indian context. The people from the ‘city of dreams’, their lifestyles, behavioral patterns, environments and interactions have always been a contextual starting point, if not a direct muse for my design processes. Mumbai, with its fast-paced, bustling dynamism is a coastal capital studded with crowded lanes of street food stalls, beaches and flea bazaars, leaving it to be nothing short of an explosion of colour, culture and spice. The local trains that form the veins of this metropolitan along with the monuments and architectural Art Deco specimens have also caught the eye of many creatives that reside or visit. This youthful and ever-hustling city that never sleeps is starting to emerge as a hub for contemporary art galleries and quirky design studios which makes it a promising space to look out for creative freelance briefs and interesting clients.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Of all the great advice that I have received from my mentors and peers so far, the one that has made a deep impression on me was to ‘try and do one thing every day, that I couldn’t have done yesterday.’ As a budding designer, it has encouraged me to push myself regularly, tread all possibilities and explore my limits.

What advice would you give students graduating in 2021?

Post-pandemic trends suggest that businesses and client mindsets going digital-first has opened floodgates of opportunities for remote work, global launches and cross-border collaborations. Something I would tell the graduating batch of 2021 would be to embrace the uncertainty of the future, as daunting and clichéd as it may sound, and leverage this time to try their hands at a diverse range of projects. Looking back, the internships and freelance gigs that I undertook helped me develop my own voice and style, but moreover they taught me about what I do not wish to do or where I do not see myself, which was an equally essential understanding to have. Lastly, I would say, be observant and inquisitive, be empathetic, try different things, take more risks, make plenty of mistakes and keep putting yourself out there, despite the fear of failure.

What do you think the design community could do more to give back?

Today’s social, political and cultural landscapes are expanding and crumbling with great volatility which makes it both an incredibly exciting and challenging time to be a design professional. In my opinion, as an Indian designer, one can give back to the community by trying to preserve, promote and inculcate the rich traditions, diversity, history and heritage that the nation boasts. It is a formative period for Indian design as there are creatives, now more in number than ever, that are making an impact on a global scale by starting locally. There is a need to educate and encourage communities and clients about the extent to which design interventions can inform change, raise voices against injustice and bring about innovation and cure. Perhaps, the best way to give back to the community would be by taking up more work in socially relevant subject areas and being conscious about how, what and who you work with.

Where to find Alishka:

Instagram: @xalysh

Website: www.alishkashah.com

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