Creating: A successful thesis project!
Women & Design // Episode 11
"So my personal experience, I freaked out when someone said thesis project, right. That was exactly what my reaction was. And I'm pretty sure everyone has that reaction."
Q1. Tell us a little bit about yourself...
“I'm a student at KU, I did my undergrad over here, but previously I did one year at Srishti in Bangalore, and then I transferred. And I am originally from Mumbai, I've been doing design for the past seven years. I really like the field. I've been exploring a couple of other things too. I have worked on branding, motion graphics, UI/UX, all of these things I include in, the skills I have. I also work as an art director & designer at an agency, which is called native digital, and it's in Kansas City. I work there with different clients. I work on some freelance projects as well. And over the last few years, I've worked at places like Wix, Intel, Sheraton, etc.”
Q2. Tell us everything about your project!
"We were told to choose a topic that tells someone a little about ourselves. And because it was a thesis project, it's mainly something that is very specific to either my background or my culture. I picked Mumbai and New York as my starting point. These are two locations that are very special to me because I am from Mumbai and I would like to move to New York someday in my life. So I created a custom deck of cards, which consisted of 52 different illustrations. And these illustrations are basically elements that pick from these two cities to show how similar they are. After my research, I realized that it was not just me who thought these cities are similar but there's an overarching opinion that most people have and they're also uncommonly known as Soul Sister Cities, which basically means that these cities are very similar not just in culture, but also various other things. So I picked different topics like entertainment, architecture, food, transport, railway transport, water transport. And then, you know the iconic foods, landmarks of different places. And basically, just things that people from either location would relate to and would realize upon the fact that these elements are what made the city what it is."
Q3. How / Where did you start the project? Tell us about your Design Process
"Basically, the execution of the process about "how do I make this a real thing?". So the project itself didn't require me to get them printed or make them an actual thing, I could have just done it as a concept and, made mockups. But I felt like I wanted to have a little more of an extensive project on my portfolio that shows all the skills I have. The first part was research. So the first step of the process is to figure out all the things that were similar in both cities, figure out all the things that people also thought were the same. I had social media polls, Google forms, tools just to use, and to understand what people think would be relatable. So I finalized 13 different elements because there are 13 numbers in the cards. Though those 13 elements were picked, the next part was starting, the illustrations. And I think that was the most time-consuming part of the entire process because there were 52 different illustrations. And even if, I'd picked 13 elements, and each element was basically fixed opposite to each other in a way that they're basically equivalents. In New York, you have the Statue of Liberty, and in Mumbai, you have the Gateway of India. In Mumbai, you have Bollywood and in New York, you have Broadway. So that's the source of entertainment. So picking up everything from every element, every side, so it's not just for designers or foodies, it's for everyone who loves the cities. Once the illustrations were done, then it was about figuring out the brand identity for the entire project. So colors typography, adding words into the illustrations, figuring out the type. Once that happened, then it was about getting everything prepared as print files. There was a lot of transition that had to happen because I wanted to get these cards printed on foil. And there were two different kinds of colors of foil that I did. One was metallic blue and one was copper. There is a specific, like the minimum width of that you can have on your illustrations that could be printed. I contacted print houses and vendors and tried to figure out how much it would cost to make these happen. I ended up printing five decks, and it ended up costing me $100 per deck. I picked up some ways of figuring out funding, contributions from friends around, but it was also preparing projects and presentations so that I could go get stockholders and I could get people who were willing to invest in the project. Then once I got the funding to get these printed, it took 20 days, because I got them printed from London and they were the only ones who were as specific and as detailed as I wanted. And then that happened. And then I got my gods and then I are directed. So I conducted a photoshoot to get all of these cards photographed. Yeah, and then the video. So creating a thesis project video is on a project on its own, just because to figure out how to show and sort of, like tell someone what the entire process of three months was, is very difficult. And then one month was basically just editing the video just putting things together just you know, getting screenshots, videos, processes but It turned out great!"
Q4. What are some of the challenges you faced in the process?
"So I think, first of all, was creating illustrations, I am a graphic design major, My strength is branding. My strength is UI UX, logos, identities, mobile apps, websites. So there is not even a single project on my portfolio, which is about illustration. But this was the only project that I did illustrations on and I didn't start from small, I did 52 illustrations. And I'm crazy for taking that on. I think my first one was getting so many illustrated. The second challenge was to figure out, how do you transfer these designs to printable files, there are a lot of things. And that was a learning process as well. The third thing was to figure out the money. And it's not easy to convince people to invest in a school project, but to invest a big amount, I mean, $600, it's a big amount, so to took some convincing for people to believe in the project. And then the fourth one was compiling everything because I wasn't sure what to include and what not to include. And how do you show the process with doing justice to every each and every step, but also keeping it concise enough that people aren't bored?"
Q5. A lot of students deal with anxiety, stress, and uncertainty with Thesis projects. Did you as well? How did you cope?
"So my personal experience, I freaked out when someone said thesis project, right. That was exactly what my reaction was. And I'm pretty sure everyone has that reaction. So before that, the project that was a hit for me was the Cold Stone project, which won a lot of awards. And, you know, I thought that was it, that was a one-hit wonder. I thought was not going to do anything good after that. And then when the thesis project comes, there's this amount of pressure that you get, you have to perform, you have to live up to the expectations. But I think the only way that I was able to tackle it, and the only way that anyone can tackle it is to choose a topic that you genuinely like because doing a thesis project means that you're going to spend three months of working time, two other months on the site for planning and then like one more month for execution and summary and blah, blah, blah. So there's like a total of six months that you're going to put on a thesis project. And if you don't like the topic that you're working on, you're going to get bored, you're going to lose motivation. You're going to start procrastinating, that will show in the work. I was able to continue and be motivated and stick with the process was because of how much I loved New York, how much I loved Mumbai and How much I believe that those two cities are so similar? And why is no one talking about this? Right? Why don't you talk about Mumbai, as soon as someone mentions New York, why is it not vice versa? And so it was just about me trying to get my word out and the passion that I had for it. And that's basically the only trick, do what you like!"
Q6. What are your takeaways? What are some learnings you would like to share with students?
"If someone's getting into design, the first thing I'll tell them is, it's not easy. It's not easy at all. Because as designers, we're not just designing if we're designing for a restaurant, we need to do research on how restaurants need to work. If we're designing for an app for like a medical procedure, you need to know how knee arthroscopy happens. So you can illustrate and you can do. So I believe, this my opinion designers are, they're all-rounders. And my only tip is you need to know you're going to enjoy this, then choose it, don't do it because you think it's easy. The second tip I'll give someone who's coming into design is that try to find your niche. There are a lot of designers, there are a lot of people who do branding, there are a lot of people who do UI UX, and you know, illustration. Do figure out what you are good at, and what is your specialization, because that's the only thing that's going to make you special. You know, so figure out your niche and figure out your style."
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.