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Monthly Feature  //  September 2020

Anushka Tendolkar

An award winning multi-disciplinary designer

Team WID  //  September, 2020

"Design is not only about creating something beautiful, It's also about how you talk about yourself and your work."

"My Journey in design has been like the design process, It is very iterative." says Anuska Tendolkar, an award-winning multi disciplinary designer raised in Mumbai and currently working in Bangalore. She has won multiple prestigious design awards, from the Pune Design Festival award, to the Curious Young Blood award. Her goals, she says, are to be a responsible and versatile designer while bringing joy to people through her work. There’s so much more to Anushka than just design, she loves fitness, food, music, and of course, dogs!

On Past Experiences and Motivation.

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Anushka’s parents were quite encouraging throughout her journey from a young creative to a professional designer, “I started with intermediate exams in school, at that point it was only painting and I decided to take that forward. I had an Uncle who was a Product designer and I really liked his sketches and his work. It was amazing that he did that for a living and that inspired me to explore.” Holding on to the sparks of inspiration, she went on to attend training for NID and NATA exams, but didn't end up pursuing architecture. “During a portfolio review, a professor from another design school suggested that I take up communication design. At the time, I wasn't aware of communication design and I was told that these designers can work from anywhere, even from a beach! So, If I'm working from a beach, I decided that this is what I'm doing for the rest of my life!” Beaches bring out the best in all of us designers!

“My journey at design school taught me a lot of things on many levels and I think it plays an important role in every designer's life. College was fun but I would always finish my assignments beforehand and I felt like I needed to do more to learn.” This motivated Anushka to take up freelance projects. “In the second year my freelance journey started from a friend's business and once I finished that, I was approached for many projects due to client recommendations. Slowly but surely, I started getting some really cool projects. This includes some illustrations I had done for Dentsu Webchutney, Tata group, Wizcraft entertainment and so much more.”

“This motivated me a lot. Every time I had a big client, I was intimidated because I was still in college and I wondered about the many accomplished designers out there. But then I realised that I cannot be intimidated by the work of other designers. If someone approaches you then you have to understand that the person is connecting with the work that you are doing and not because they can't go to someone else. That mindset has helped be with every project that I take.” Truer words haven’t been spoken!

 

On Social Media and Creative Blocks.

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Anushka has some excellent work on her Instagram including 3D visuals, graphic design and illustrations. “Instagram is mostly a collection of my personal work. I used to create something everyday, 36 days of type or 3D explorations. But then I realised that I started putting a lot of pressure on myself. Even Though it is nice to do something everyday and learn something new, There's no need to pressure yourself to post everyday. Post whenever you want to, Post for yourself.” Instead of stressing ourselves out, we need to create when we are inspired and give ourselves time.

“Off late, I have started prioritising time-off and I try not to take up too many things at a time. I love what I do and I don't mind doing it all the time. Initially, I would take pride in being a workaholic. But, now I have a full time job, a house to take care of, I have many freelance projects and I also need to take some time to focus on my health. This has motivated me to focus on having a work-life balance.” Having a work-life balance can do wonders for your mental health. Taking some time to take a walk, read or just be, is important to keep ideas flowing. Even an hour of exercise everyday can help you destress. Anushka says, “Because I give myself an hour to workout everyday, It feels like a release. If I'm having a stressful day with work and other things, exercise helps with letting it all out.”

We all work on a wide range of projects on a daily basis. But, there are times when we feel like we’re stuck or the ideas are not working out. Creative blocks are the worst, but once you learn to get around them, they’re merely blessings in disguise. “For creative blocks, it's about letting yourself be. A lot of times we want to get out of it and we stress ourselves out. But, if you just let things be and if you don't do anything about it, you'll get out of it automatically. It's important to realise that we are the ones applying these blocks and limitations to ourselves.” Anushka quotes an example from her graduation, “My Graduation project, that won so many awards, I had to let go of it completely for about a month. I didn't know what to do with it because there was so much happening. After that, I took up another project for a competition and while working on that, I started to get ideas for my graduation project. Once that project was over I came back to my grad project and I was able to wrap it up so beautifully and it turned out to be exactly what I wanted.” So, if you’re feeling like something is not working out, take a break and approach it later with a fresh pair of eyes. Stressing out within a creative block is like frantically moving in quicksand, you’re only going to sink deeper. Instead, take some time off and focus on something else, embrace the creative block and don’t fight it — you’ll be out in no time.

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On Process, Composition and Style.

"Don't be intimidated by the work of others. If someone approaches you to work with them, it's because they are connecting with the kind of work you are doing."

Every designer has a different and unique creative process, one that works for them. This is what makes each of us so beautifully unique! For Anushka it's about finding inspiration and making mood boards. “Pinterest is my best friend. I know a lot of people say that Pinterest kills creativity but, it's the other way around for me. I also sketch more often than not. Initially, I sketched a lot because I did a lot of hand drawn work. This helps me document my ideas before I digitise them. And I don't like to stick to a certain style. As a designer, I think it is important to be diverse and versatile.”

With 3D visuals, In priority first comes colour, then shape and lastly lines, says Anushka. “My work in general has progressed so much over the last few months. For example, I create my 3D on Adobe Dimension, which is a packaging software. So what I did in the beginning was just compose my visuals. Place the shapes, colours and adjust the lighting. Because I've worked on compositions for so long that my aesthetics with lighting and colours has become so much better than what it used to be. I try to apply it to all of my other design work now. Colour is something that I connect with the most. I love bright colours.”

“Apart from this, I would love to experiment with just lines. We are taught that some things should be a certain way, but we need to explore other ways. We restrict ourselves when it comes to lines. We explore so much with colours and shapes so I really want to explore lines.”

Speaking of personal style, Anushka says, “My style is finally becoming apparent through the 3D work I've been doing before which I did not follow or have a distinct style. Moving forward, it's something I don't want to stick to. There are so many styles I'm interested in exploring and I'm a very experimental person, I like trying out new things. If you're an artist and you have a style, It will take you places and you will get recognised. But, as a designer, if people recognise your work, you fall short of catering to a design brief.”

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On Networking and The power of positive thoughts.

Networking is important in creative fields and Anushka believes that it is easier in the design community. “We have a very small community. And unlike other industries we have the ability to reach out to the people we look up to. Attend events, Design Yatra is the best event for designers in India because the event is very informal and it's very easy to network. I met a legend like David Carson, I gave him my illustration and told him how much I admired his work. I never thought it was possible. In design, networking can really take you places. Email them, DM them and tell them you like their work and you would love to learn from them.”

To find projects that are in line with the kind of work you love, it is important to have a mindset built on the foundation of positivity and abundance. “I have a friend who became very spiritual over the past year, both of us have always held a common ground when it came to energy. We're not religious but, we really believe in the universal energy and manifestation. I have been able to align myself with my goals and this has helped me create amazing opportunities.” It’s about loving what we do and having fun along the way. “I started working on 3D visuals a while ago. I'm doing it on a software that is not conventionally used for 3D. I started doing it as an exploration to upgrade my skills and now I have client projects for 3D work which I honestly never expected would happen. I work on them like they are my personal projects.”

What's next?

“A little bit of everything, but most importantly I want to be a responsible designer who isn't scared to speak up her mind or say no to work if they don't align with my moral compass. Design has more power in the world than it is given credit for and I want to be able to be responsible about it.”

Takeaways for creatives

"Don't be afraid to reach out to the people you look up to. For us in the design community it is easy to connect with the people we want to learn from. This can take you places because this is the difference between someone who is stuck with one pool of clients and someone who is still happy with their clients but still reaching out to different people. Just reach out to the people you want to work with. You may or may not get a response but, if you do, it's amazing."

A little more about Anushka

Who are a few inspirational Indian creatives that you look up to?

Sajid Wajid, Khyati Trehan, Studio Möbius, Ghost animation.

Favorite font / a font you swear by?

Gotham.

What are you reading currently?

Persepolis, The lover's dictionary.

If you could host dinner at home, who are the top 3 names on your guestlist?

Jessica Walsh, Greta Thunberg, Barack Obama.

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We're always open to other perspectives, opinions and a good chat over some coffee or tea. We'd love to host a conversation with you, head on over to our Discord and get in touch!

With 🧡 Team WID.

Up Next // October 2020

Our woman of the month is the wonderful Sanjana Desai. Sanjana is a concept artist, illustrator and storyteller who loves showing emotion and storytelling through her art. Her favourite things to draw are animals, kids and nature. Read more on her journey into design.