ĎíIF YOU THINK LIKE A DESIGNER, YOU CAN BE A DESIGNERíí
1) To begin with, we would like to know about your life at BPHC so far.
When I joined here, I concentrated more on socialising. I wasnít that much into studies but I tried to know as many people as possible. I used to hang out with many groups. Initially I didnít know much about designing at that time. However, I happen to have an artistic mind so I used to suggest my friends about which design will look good and which will not. Slowly I learnt how to use Adobe Illustrator. My mind was full of ideas. In my second year I took a course in which you had to make advertisements, which helped me improve my creativity. In my 4th semester, I joined DoTA. I used to browse lot of inspirational videos, which helped me improve on a daily basis. To manifest the ideas I had in my mind, I used to design posters for the fest even in the absence of any senior to guide me. For Pearl that year, I handled the whole design work in place of my seniors. Hence, I got the confidence that I can handle the design team. I got a chance to lead the department in my 3rd year as the Technical fest Head. Meanwhile in my PS1, I was struggling with issues like how to divide work and how to bring out the best out of the department. The first thing that is necessary is releasing the website. Till then we didnít have any theme for ATMOS, unlike Pearl, which always had a theme. I got an idea to stick to the theme of space for ATMOS. Finally, we decided the layout and started working on the theme. There was a lot of criticism as the website was getting late. We finally delivered the website 20-25 days before the fest. After the release of the website, I received a lot of appreciation for the creativity that we put in. However, my interest in designing increased after that and I felt that this was just the beginning of my story. When I was designing, I used to keep all my designs at one place. Itís called Behance portfolio. After ATMOS, some campus ambassadors for ďCampus Diaries 25 under 25Ē in our college posted about the same on Facebook. My friends motivated me to go for it. I got selected in the 25 designers among the 15,000 applications from all over India. And out of those 25 designers I was the only engineering student to get selected. After getting selected we were called to Bangalore for a huge summit. It was a great experience to meet so many good designers, writers and photographers under one roof. After meeting them, I got inspired a lot by their way of thinking. I went for my PS 2 in the 7th semester and now I am back here for the last semester.
2) What all difficulties did you face during designing and how did you manage to overcome them?
Every time I started designing, I just used to have random and vague inputs. No one knows exactly what he/ she wants. I have to plan the design, search a lot and build up on these ideas. It took lot of time and patience. Though creativity needs time, but we are always restricted by deadlines to meet. But once you deliver your work, the feeling that you get makes you forget all the difficulties that you faced. Everyone looks at the output, but thereís a lot of hard work behind that output which includes altering your design a number of times. For example, the ATMOS brochure that I designed had to be edited 17 times. To be a good designer, you should not be lazy. Laziness is the enemy of creativity. Also, being organised is very important failing which youíll happen to waste a lot of time. Keeping all the things at their places and keeping my work organised into different folders helped me a lot. Also, I like to keep my daily life very organised. I used to sleep around 11:30 as it helps me in my thinking.
3) You mentioned about getting selected for the Campus Diaries 25 under 25. How did you go about applying and getting selected for the same?
As I said, I used to keep my work organised. So, for applying, I portrayed all my work in such a way that the viewer can easily make out what all work I did, what different types of designs I can do and how I used my creativity. I am not just a designer, I am a coder as well. This worked in my favour as I could do the complete thing, designing my website and coding it. Thereís a website where youíve to upload your work and make your own profile based on which the jury judges you. So this is how it worked out for me.
4) How did you go about improving your designing skills?
The first thing that you need in learning designing is commitment. While learning designing, you tend to get bored as you need to learn from the basics, like drawing a line, drawing a circle and all. I used to follow YouTube tutorials and follow how they were going about selection of tools, using them and how were they thinking about a design. I used to follow lynda.com tutorials. I used to grab all the good things in the design and analyse how the designer made it. Whenever I came across a problem, I used to analyse how other designers approached the solution to the problem. I used to follow a lot of designers online which gave me inspiration. Not only following them, but I tried to implement my knowledge in my daily life. I used to observe various designs around me and tried to figure out whether itís a good or a bad design. For example, if you look at the menu of Bits n Bytes in the Bru 1 lawns, you will observe that though it looks good, you need a lot of time to find what you are searching for. This isnít a good design. You need not learn all the software, you just need to be good with one. Knowing many software doesnít make you a designer, having sense of a good design makes you one. Till my 4th semester I used to work only on Adobe Illustrator. After that I realised that Photoshop is also important. Still Iím not that good at Photoshop but I can manage to get my work done.
5) Which according to you is the best software to work with?
I think its Adobe Illustrator, because Photoshop is for photo manipulation. Itís for already done things. If you want to create something new, Illustrator is the best. Also, graphic designers use 70% illustrator and 30% Photoshop for their work. Both the softwares are good, but Illustrator is good to begin with.
6) What are your suggestions to the budding designers on campus?
First of all, you don't need any prerequisite to be a designer. Designing is not a talent, it is a skill. It can be learnt and improved. Itís just like the dedication one person has towards his academics. It has few principles. Once you start following the existing principles you will be in a position to generate new principles. There are many platforms to learn designing. You should not be lazy. Also your design will have to go through a lot of editing and you need to be patient at times. Patience brings out the best design. It may so happen that whenever a client approaches you, he/she may not be sure of what they exactly want. You use all of your experience and creativity in making a design for them and it may happen that the client won't like your design and suggest changes. Initially it hurts because you have used all your time and resources but yet not made what they actually want. Facing the criticism and acceptance are very important things. Unlike a piece of art, everyone should like a design.
7) What according to you is a good design?
A good design is not about the looks. A design is like solving a problem. It is all about how it works. Take for an example that I am making a poster for a particular event. The poster seems pretty and attractive. But some people are not able to get the venue from the poster. So ultimately my purpose of making a poster is destroyed. Every design is made for a purpose. If it fulfills its purpose, then it is a good design.
8) As you have been working in the UI/UX field, what do you think is the scope of this field?
Initially I was a graphic designer and later I learnt web designing. Graphic and web designing are different. Then I came to know about UI/UX design. UI is User Interface design and UX is User Experience design. User Experience designing is basically designing the experience of the user. For an example, take the campus ERP website. For facebook you need to learn once and you remember it for lifetime. But for the ERP website you forget where things are each time you log into it. It is not user friendly and the important things are hidden. The software is actually a good one and also a costly one but in the process of bringing amazing software they just forgot the fact of how the user will use it. Students generally use it for registrations or viewing their grades. So what I would like to suggest is that the focus should be on these things and the registrations and grade sections should be made more visible. User Experience is everywhere. Do you think that our campus design is a good design? In the campus to go anywhere we use shortcuts. We are humans and that is our psychology. This makes me think that our design has a few faults. People use shortcuts everywhere, be it the hockey ground or the Bru 1 lawns. People are lazy and most of us don't go to classes because it is at a higher level than our hostels. Suppose if we had Library on the hockey or the football ground, every person would go to the library and study. The architects made the campus beautiful but missed these few psychological aspects. User Experience is vast and it can be applied almost anywhere and everywhere.
9) What according to you, does a person gain from being a part of DoTA (Department of Technical Arts)?
So first during the inductions we just test their basic coding and design skills. Once a person gets inducted, initially we just let him/her work with the seniors. This is their time to observe how things function in the campus and what are the tactics used. They get to know the kind of work we do and prepare them accordingly. Then we start off by giving them small projects.
Once he/she is good at his/her work then we give them actual big projects. Because as far as I remember the ATMOS website had many new designers working on it. So what we did was we asked them to make their designs and then later on we made some final edits to it. Seeing those final edits the new designers learn what changes they could have done and improve accordingly.
10) How did you start your freelancing career?
At first I was hesitant to say no to certain things. Usually people used to give me work and I used to do it despite having my own work. Because taking too much work just adds on to the pressure and stress. At the time when I was working on the ATMOS website, i got 6-7 offers from my seniors. But I was unable to accept it then. Once I was done with my work, in the vacations after my 3-2, I worked with some seniors on the projects offered. Then gradually people started recommending me to others and I started taking the opportunities offered to me. This is how I started my freelancing career. In my PS-2, I had to work for five days per week. This way I got many free weekends. Also my stipend was around 18k, which was not enough for me so i started working as a freelancer. Freelancing will teach you how to work with different clients and manage each one's requirement. I like the concept of freelancing because freelancing is not like a job where you have to work under your boss. Here you are your own boss. You will choose what you want. You can take up the projects which you like. Also people will keep approaching you because they simply love your design. I have worked with 12 startups and currently working on 4 projects. I am currently handling four clients. Two projects are based on web designing and the other two are based on graphic designing. To achieve all of this you need to be surrounded by good people. People who motivate you as well as suggest defaults and changes in your design. Whenever I used to make a design I always got it reviewed by my friends, colleagues and seniors. Itís good to be in the company of people who have a good sense of design and can guide you in the right way.
11) How do you think we can improve the current designing culture on campus?
Designing is not portrayed in the correct way in our campus. For people designing is just limited to Photoshop, illustrator, website. Design is in everything. Every department requires a design. Like we have AutoCAD, textile, structural, vehicle designing, etc. In our campus designing is limited to poster and t-shirt designing. I would also like to have designers of other sorts or fields like mentioned above. So that would be helpful for personal growth as well as our campus culture too.
Behance Profile - https://www.behance.net/Mohammadowais786
Campus Diaries Final Shortlist - https://campusdiaries.com/stories/heres-announcing-the-final-list-of-25-under-25-2016
Thank you Mr. Owais for your time and support regarding this.
Next up and the last interview for this semester is the one with Mr. Saif Ali Satkhed which is coming the next Sunday.