Q: How to get out of procrastination?

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From Wikipedia: ” Procrastination is the practice of carrying out less urgent tasks in preference to more urgent ones, or doing more pleasurable things in place of less pleasurable ones, and thus putting off impending tasks to a later time, sometimes to the “last minute” before a deadline.”
In simple english it is wasting time when we know we should be doing something useful. I think it works a bit differently for Designers. Normally we are very active and we do what we know needs done. But sometimes, i think we dont feel ready..sometimes we know there is something missing from all the knowledge that we have, we just cant put a finger on it. So we let our subconscious mind sort it out.. We get busy with something else, while in you mind you are working for a break through.
It is important to realise that this is an important part of the creative process and not let this worry you. For too many of us this leads us to working in the last minute. It doesnt mean that we get the answer..it just means that at that stage we compromise to work with what we have. and we stop looking for that missing piece.
Now once you understand this, any designer can get over procrastination by turning it the other way. Break the task in stages..some are very clear to you from beginning..go ahead and do them first..keep it aside and keep working at it like a jigsaw puzzle. I call this the movie making way of doing projects. When movies are made..you dont shoot them in sequence..you shoot them in a order that works best for budgets, people and resource.
I have done many complex projects like this and i must say it gives you a thrill when you see the puzzle falling in.

Q: What’s the best way to accept critics?

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Designer / Entrepreneur / Personality
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this has two questions with subtle difference and i think they both need answers in our profession as well as in life. Critics and Criticism- we need to learn to separate both.

Our first reaction when we hear someone say something else than what we want to hear, is to take it personally. We start looking at the motive of the critic and somehow prove that this person had a biased reason to show you down. We feel hurt and rejected. Creative people feel this often. and it leads to depression.

I believe we need a more healthy view of the whole situation. You can put critics in 3 baskets- People you like, people you dont like and people you have no view of. Now if someone who likes you criticises something about you…listen to it carefully. The person knows he is taking a risk but perhaps values you too much to lie to you. Appreciate that. Let him know you didnt like his/her view but you value it, and that you are infact a friend.

When someone you dont like (or you think that person doesnt like you) says something about you or your work…listen carefully again. Dont show your displeasure, thank that person and best is not to react at all. Be genuinely thankful that you now know what is it that, that person doesnt like. (may be you can repeat it to annoy them). Many of these could be your consistent critics, it is healthy to become deaf towards them. But dont lose the smile.

Now the neutral critic, it is important to know that person, his background, his context and the reason. you should listen to him carefully, and perhaps ask him questions. Now if you hear similar things from any two of the above types..take corrective action. Keep ego aside and do what you need to correct it. If all three tell you three different things..forget them..have confidence that what you know is the best.

In any case, be thankful that there is some reaction..some response..thats much better than having no response at all.

Criticism is good. 🙂


Q: What to do when you have a creative block?

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Designer / Personality
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A: I have thought about this a lot and i used to face this in earlier years of my career..”Creative Block’. This is a situation where you just don’t seem to to be able to think beyond the solutions you already know, you start feeling uninspired and work starts becoming boring. It doesn’t remain fun and you tend to start thinking of other things rather than the problem at hand.

There are many simple ways to get out of this mindset, you should try all of them. First one is to hand over that work to another team member and observe how it moves in a different direction, then you start seeing ways of improving and can take it back from the other person.

2nd is change the context within which you are working. Try imagining that you are doing this work for another client, another person..how would he want it.

Imagine you are working for another brand altogether. If you are working on a milk bottle for a local dairy and you are stuck..imagine what if this milk came from “Apple computers” or what if this milk was supplied by some famous actor… you suddenly have a new reference.

Change the place you sit and work in for sometime. Sit with another team member.
Sometimes a break works as well. leave that work for sometime..switch off and start working on something else.

As you grow you face less creative blocks. You start observing concepts and ideas around you and you start noting them in a notebook..to visit later. You also develop patience to go deep in one concept. You can keep detailing the one you are working on.

Also working on two or three projects at one time also keeps you fresh.

See books, movies to take your attention away from problem.

Q: Is print design really ending and moving towards UI/UX?

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A: A lot of people say that, i have been hearing about it since i used the first Mac in 1984, that time i was interning with The Hindu” in Madras. But the fact is that every newspaper, magazine that comes in print is only growing in numbers. This obviously means that there is a need for print design.

In terms of pure design question we know Print Design and Design of UI is not very different, Infact A good grounding in Print Design is essential for UI as well. UI has another dimension that needs to be learnt. But discipline of Print in terms of Typography, grids, spaces and working with higher resolutions only make u better at the game.

Also note that UI becomes redundant very fast, it needs to change often. I am not sure if this has to do with the mediocre talent that does UI or it is because since digital things come and go fast..people dont really stick to them. If you launch a website..it is not difficult to reach number of visitors 15000 quickly…that will take a huge time in print..but then in my experience readers of print only grow where as on a website you can lose them as quickly.

Another major difference if you are a designer working in these environments is the salary that you will get. UI / UX has a demand and its growing since everybody feels they can have a website or do something digitally. Companies are under pressure to deliver more and quickly, so they pay any amounts to have designers on the team.

Print on the other hand is slow and steady growth, not many people initiate projects in print. Not many designers are available who can do good print. Less new designers want to do print. In coming times i feel print designers will be paid more, and respected more.

Q: How do we know what’s an achievable goal when planning the to-do list at work?

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Designer / Entrepreneur / Personality
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A: That’s a very good question. How do we know what we are capable of? how do we know how much we can do in a day? How do we know what we will do and how do we know where we will reach.

The fact is we don’t know. At best we can estimate based on our past experience and we can guess based on circumstances. i also face this question on daily basis, every time i take up a new project..do i know if we can do it? if we can do it on time?

Achievable goals, i guess the reference is to the time available, you know what resources you have..you have a computer, softwares, your team, your office space and a few basic things. In india you also need to keep in mind, festivals, holidays..also you know your personal commitments.

There are two ways to estimate- Underestimate and overestimate…not by a lot but by a little. If you are dealing with unknowns..new client, new idea, new team, new place..we conservative and give more time than u think u need.

But if you are confident of yourself and your environment and your team..give your self a challenging schedule. This will give you a tremendous sense of achievement when you do it.

I try and do that on most projects, that’s one reason i am always thrilled with what i do..:)

Q: How to write good emails?

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Designer / Personality
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A: Well there is this whole knowledge of writing mails and answers, but i think in todays time writing emails is a bit different. It also depends on the person you are writing to and weather it is a first email or an ongoing conversation.

to start with i think emails should always be respectful, formal and conservative in terms of language. But as you get to know the other person, emails could become conversational, casual and fun.

remember many people now access mails on phone, so the language needs to be crisp, as short as possible, direct to the point. if mail is long..it needs to be mentioned upfront. the objective of the mail should be clear if not in the subject then in the first line of the email. So the receiver can decide if he wants to read it later. remember they might be in a meeting or driving when they get it.

Q: How to become a successful team leader and entrepreneur?

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Entrepreneur / Personality
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A: Now this is a very big question. Many say this is a inborn talent, but i guess many qualities can be learnt and grown. I am assuming that you asked about entrepreneur also in the same context. An entrepreneur is a team leader as well.

So let me answer about Team leader here. You obviously need to be happy with people and enjoy their company. You need to trust your team and respect them for what they can do. You may always think you know more, you can do more..but of course that’s what makes you a leader in the first place. A good team leader is always wanting to share knowledge and keen that his team grows.

Team should be able to trust you and respect your knowledge, now these things you can not buy with money. You do not become a team leader just because you are paid more and because someone is reporting to you.

A successful entrepreneur is one who is able to figure out a road when none exist, it could also be in very small ways. In a studio a creative director has to a entrepreneur. He has to think of what he wants on a white paper, then decide which photographer, which models, which setting will fill the page. he always takes help of the specialists. he is constantly learning and constantly teaching.

Q: What should creative director do in the office and outside the office?

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A: It is to understand who is a creative director, what is his role to understand what activities are expected of him in or out of office.

A creative director is someone who directs the creative work in a studio or office or an organisation. This means he understands the tools and tricks of the trade (the ART side- fonts colours etc etc), and also understands the context side of the projects, how idea works and solves a problem. He has the larger picture. he understand how this solution which might be simple or complex needs to be achieved by combination of skills at his disposal. The copy, the language, the nuances, and then the Art side.

He directs various talents to extract the required part and creates a piece that works as one complete thing. he himself doesn’t have to be skilled in all those tools, but he has an understanding of those tools. This gets him to understand his team and their specialties. he becomes responsible to grow the creative team with an objective in mind. He is always looking and observing at different aspects of creativity and assessing a fit with his projects.

So he is more than a copywriter, more than an art director. He controls the creative standards of a studio.

So his roles would include: understanding the brief, helping extracting a brief and then charting a process, setting timelines and deciding talent resources. Then breaking a project in pieces and asking his team to work on each piece before he puts it back together.

Outside the office, he is always looking a new inspirations for him/herself and the team. Always looking a newer ways of doing things.