I graduated from the Parsons School of Design in New York in 2019 and started freelancing with small clients in 2017. I think my initial goal was to get experience in as many ways as possible with a variety of clients and deliverables — whether it meant working with fashion designers on branding projects or with non-profits for campaigns. I would say my first big project was working as a storyboard artist for an indie film in India, called The Waiting Place. It was the first time I’d worked on a storyboard, and the first time I felt as though my contribution played a role in creating something so much bigger than me. I was fortunate enough to travel, learn and experience design in so many cities, such as New York, Cape Town, and Sydney – the diversity of clients and projects allowed me to find my own niche within the intersection of various industries.
Returning to Delhi after graduation, I felt as though I came back to an entirely different city. This was largely because it was my first official introduction to the design world here and also because of how fast I see this industry grow. I definitely feel inspired by local brands, designers, and studios, who are changing design in India. It is especially refreshing to see the rising presence of activism and social commentary through art. Artists in India are pushing boundaries and redefining the importance of impactful design now, more than ever before. As I strive to find my role within this space, I’m also able to contemplate some of the interesting similarities between working in Delhi and New York, such as meeting young start-up brands that are groundbreaking in their fields, or finding inspiration from dialogues that reflect current events and society.
“The most successful design is design rooted in empathy.” I first heard these words from a visiting professor in high school, but they’ve continued to stick with me through to today. With this concept in mind, I always find myself evaluating my own design, and I’ve come to realize that the ability to use empathy in order to find solutions and visualize sentiment and ideas is one of the greatest skills a designer can have. We enable ourselves to observe the world, its people, and their emotions, and find ways to communicate what others perhaps aren’t able to. We find empathetic design in every industry, from marketing and advertising to product design and illustration, and as designers, can convert our curiosity and experimentation into solutions.
When I was a student at university, I think “finding my style” was one of my biggest concerns. I was constantly inspired by successful designers, each with their iconic styles. However, looking back, I’ve noticed I misunderstood what having a style meant and somewhere along the way, I came to the realization that my personal style is always evolving. At the same time, my work is a representation of me and so it will always have its own consistencies. I love to experiment, and with each experience, I introduce an aspect of design that I then take forward to my next project. My advice to other designers would be to stop proactively searching for their unique style, and always be open to experimentation — as long as your work is true to yourself, your personality will always stand out.
I think the biggest lesson 2020 has taught us is that anything can happen. Plans can change and sometimes we have little control over where life takes us. It can be especially daunting if that lack of control and fear of uncertainty disrupts our creative processes, which is why my advice to students graduating in 2021 is to learn to be adaptable. Find inspiration and experiment from everything life throws your way. As the design community takes strides to become more virtual than ever before, it is important to network with designers globally, collaborate internationally, and thrive within that spontaneity.
Given the current circumstances, it would be difficult to predict the next twelve months, but I’d like to have a plan in mind while still being open to seeing where change could take me. I initially intended to enter a studio and work as a designer, but in recent months I’ve started to explore the idea of continuing my work in freelance. As I see the world grow more open to remote work, I believe the opportunity to find experience globally is one that would be extremely positive in my own development. Currently, I plan to relocate to Berlin while keeping one foot in India. I hope to explore and immerse myself in the diverse creative culture and design that Berlin has to offer, while remaining in touch with opportunities back home.