How I Stepped into the World Of Design : Artist diaries by Uma Gokhale

How I Stepped into the World Of Design

I thought today I'll share with you the interesting journey that led me to become a designer.

I loved to draw ever since I remember. During my school years, I passed the elementary and intermediate drawing exams with straight A's. However, once I was out of school, I did not have a clear idea on where I wanted to apply my drawing skills. Since there was no good arts school in town, my parents encouraged me to complete my graduation first - with Physics as my major - and then decide on how I wanted to go ahead.

After graduation, I did some research on the various fields that might interest me as an artist. This was back when animation was an upcoming an extremely hyped career choice for artists in India as marketed by animation institutes and the media. So I decided to go for a 1 year diploma in 2D and 3D animation where I learnt about animation cycles, sketching, 2D/3D animation & editing programs like Flash, 3D Max, Maya & Combustion. I took a liking to 3D Max and worked on our class project which was based on the story of Troy at the end of my course.

I then moved on to working at Arena Multimedia as an instructor for 3D Max. I taught about 15 students in 3-4 batches. After 1 and a half year, I became certain that I did not want to teach any more. So I sent out a few resumes and landed a job as an animator with a company that was making an animated version of the Indian epic 'Ramayan'. Here, my main responsibilities were sketching characters and then making them look realistic in scenes using frame by frame animation techniques in Adobe Flash. My pay at the time was just enough to cover my gas expenses to get to work and back every day!

3 months later, I heard of a company that was hiring Flash designers to design e-learning courses. I applied and got a call back. This company had two different departments - one for e-learning programs & second for web & graphic design. One day, as I was busy working on some Flash slides for an e-learning course, I heard that the lead graphic designer was sick and that there was a design job with a  deadline by the end of the day. I don't know how, but at that moment I felt I should give it a shot and so I asked my supervisor to give me a chance. He was more than happy hoping this might just get him out of trouble. I designed 7-8 layout options and unsure of how they will be received, I presented them to my boss.

He loved them! He said my style of design was internationally appealing and unique. So the next day, when the lead designer returned, I was told that from that day onward I was to sit next to her every day for a month and learn the principles and techniques of graphic designing. With focus, observation and practice I kept learning more and more about this wonderful line of work that would one day become my passion and the core of my own business.

And before I knew it, I was in charge of an overseas web/graphic UI project! The company was named - Weblistic (which was later acquired by SpotRunner, LA, USA).

A few months down the line, the director of this overseas project/company came to India and spoke to me about his plans of starting an India division. He also offered me a position to now work directly for him.

I accepted happily as this new position and company meant a fantastic exposure to international businesses, design concepts and people. My work responsibilities now had nothing to do with animation but it was more of brand design & website building/management. It was the first time I worked closely with an experienced and highly skilled team of coders. By this time, with my experience and practice, I was more than comfortable with brand design, print design as well as website design & development.

This job proved to be the best I've ever had (Only second to running my own business!). It came with perks, on site opportunities, excellent co-workers, beautiful location and infrastructure. I enjoyed working there for 1 and a half year after which unfortunately SpotRunner decided to close down their newly acquired India division. This happened during the recession period.

As it happened, this was exactly the kind of push I needed to start my own business. The idea was cropping up for a while now at the back of my head and I decided this was the time to take my leap of faith.

So I did. And I have never looked back since then. It'been wonderful working for myself. I enjoy the flexibility as well as the responsibility. There's nothing like running your own company and working towards a solid reputation and profit for yourself. Plus, the freedom to choose the work you want to do is priceless.

It's Your Turn!

What do you do and how did you start it? Is what you're doing related to what you've studied?