From a fandroid

– 2006 –

5 years ago, I stumbled across one of the most amazing digital artists of his time – Andrew Jones who is also known as Android Jones ( and that’s a fantastic nickname!) His artwork amazed me for the obvious reasons initially. That  it looked cool! The way he drew faces (especially female faces which are a favorite of mine) and combined them with cool-looking techie elements blew my mind. I could never imagine something like that. And with a few close friends I shared this obsession with ‘cool-looking’ art. Much later I got hold of an ImagineFX magazine poster which had his and Stanley Lau’s artwork on it. The best issue of Imagine FX ever!

Goddess of Dust
Goddess of Dust

Truth be told, I got it for the latter’s work. My interest had shifted from Andrew’s style of images to those of Stanley Lau‘s. Another kind of cool. This poster has travelled with me through three cities and it has always been the pride of my wall, just above my workspace. My constant source of inspiration. And lately, it has been the artwork above I cannot stop looking at. 4 year later and I am finding new things in it. My sensitivity towards design details have grown over the years and while I am no expert, I do know and perceive more than I ever have.

– 26th Feb 2013 –

It was an honor to meet him. It is not often that you have your heroes speak just five feet from you!

Android at the 'Design Calling' workshop at NGMA, Mumbai
Android at the ‘Design Calling’ workshop at NGMA, Mumbai

He did talk about the art that he made for arts sake and lately I have only heard that term being thrown around by people who have too much time or money and just do anything and the sell it as art or in fact higher art that mere mortals can’t understand. My desperation and disappointment went through many phases and arguments: “Why do we do this?!” “Is there any point to this if I am going to end up in the same place many long and hard years later!?”, I won’t get anywhere because of this system I keep hearing so much about but never really understood what it was. Do you know about it?

And in that bleak, angry existence I listened to what Andrew Jones has to say. And it helped. So much! The reasons he made art, what it meant to him to keep working and dedicate his life to it. Lately, I have grown so lazy and distracted with work and wondering whether this was all worth it that I forgot what it was like to just draw. To create. He spoke very plainly and honestly about how he goes about it. About its hardships and disappointments. And it takes a very special person to make you feel that despite it all it’s going to be ok. Despite all the crap that gets thrown at you by those around you, your situation at the time and insecurity you have about your own work, there is a reason we go back to it. It is our work. We labour hard for it, we love it and it loves us back.

I feel an all-together different kind of cool about his work, at this moment while I am typing and this second when I remembering his words and the experience of him creating and letting us be a part of it.

A reaffirmation. To quote Android Jones that “…it wasn’t just a gift or talent… such words that lazy people use to get out of doing any work and make them feel better about it. It is skill, time, hard work and determination that will get you what you want and  bring out the best in your artwork…”

I would like to end this with…’Thank you Andrew Jones‘. These are small words that might not convey the depth of my gratitude, but I am so happy to have met you. I am incredibly grateful for your art, your time and your advice.

Got it signed!!
Got it signed!!

These will not be forgotten anytime soon.

The best T.V enjoyed by all

This is a post to reminisce.

The by-gone days of awesome television shows. The simple ones almost every, single person I know has seen. They were such an important part of my childhood as it was a love shared by my whole family. TV time was important and it’s these memories that make ‘Old T.V’ something I dearly miss. I’m not here to bash up the new shows. I just want to remember the old ones which, when you are sitting in a group, always becomes a topic for conversation that can go on for hours. I love that the family I made in college shared the same love for old tv. To me, it seemed that old tv had found a way to make sure I never forgot how awesome it was.

When I was a kid watching these shows was a ritual. I would scramble into the living room and my parents would promptly change channels so we could watch (not according to order) shows like The Crystal Maze, Small Wonder, Batman and Hum Paanch( both family favourites), I Dream of Jeanie, Black Beauty and so many others . And I’m not even counting off the cartoon shows- the days of Hanna-Barbera excellence. For me that would require a completely new post. I even remember this obscure T.V show which, because I was so small, scared the living daylights out of me. It was called Manimal. Does anyone remember that? It followed the exploits of Dr. Jonathan Chase who could transform into any animal at will and this would aide him in solving crimes. So you can imagine that this required some heavy-duty special effects. True, they were totally crappy, even for its time and now I can remember only bits and pieces of the show but, the one thing that stuck with me through all these years is the memory of it being really scary, ha! ha!

God! Just the thought of these shows always brings a smile to my face. It makes me wish for a box DVD set to be created which has all this awesome entertainment in one place for me to enjoy over and over again. These shows are always entertaining. I recently acquired the black and white version of the show ‘The Addams Family’ and while watching it I realized I thoroughly enjoyed it. Even today.

As mentioned before, there are so many TV shows out there which all of us have cherished in our hearts and we at Design/6 would not be able to do justice to them ourselves simply in a post. So, care to reminisce? Tell us, ‘What were your favorite shows as a kid?’

Conversations: With Prof. Mahendra Patel

Prof. Mahendra Patel is a retired senior faculty member of the National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad, India. Currently, he is an adjunct faculty member at SID & MIT-ID, Pune and a consultant with The Leaf Design, Mumbai. He studied at the Faculty of Fine Arts, MSU Baroda and at NID, followed by a degree in Advance Graphic Design at School of Design, Basel, Switzerland. In 1971, He went on to work on type design projects at Atelier Frutiger, Paris.

He has worked on type design development projects in Devanagari, Tamil, Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Malayalam and Tamil scripts.  He has designed detailed Tourist and Bus-route Maps, Guide Maps, Irrigation & Ecology Maps and Industrial & Archaeological Maps and signage systems for Tirupati and Hyderabad City.

(We, at Design/6 have always found sir’s classes and company extremely inspiring. Recently, we cornered him into giving us a sneak peek into his life, work and everything else...)

Mahendra Patel's typography workshop

When and how did you decide to teach typography?

In 1969, after a specialised education in typography at National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad for 2 years and then School of Design, Basel for 1 year.

Could you share with us your experience at the International Gutenberg Society where you were awarded The Mainz Gutenberg Award?

It was the best I could expect for myself, I am proud and overwhelmed by the honour and recognition it gave me at an international level, I was very charged to share my experience of teaching Letter Design in India at Gutenberg Museum, School of Design (where I studied in 1968!) and at Reading University which has a post-graduation course in Type Design.

I also took the opportunity to meet many of my teachers: Hans Pulver (Typography), Dourothy Hoffmann (Letter Design), Armin Hoffmann (Graphic Design), Adrian Frutiger (Type Design in Switzerland) and Bruno Pffafli (Advanced Typography in Paris)

I had also a great experience of travelling with my wife in Europe (our first time trip together abroad!).

Mahendra Patel's presentation at Mainz

You are very inspirational as a person and mostly as a teacher. Your classes have always left a mark on your students. Could you tell us about some of the wonderful teachers you have had?

K G Subramaniam from Fine Arts, MS University, Baroda, who gave me a good foundation and sensitivity towards Fine Arts. He also recommended me to NID for a Post-graduation course.

Armin Hoffmann, I had a hard time with this strict task-master to learn Basic Graphic Design, that would later become my core strength.

Peter Teubner, who gave me thorough knowledge and extensive skill of hot-metal typography. He was more hard-working than me and a perfectionist.

Christian Pulver, hardly 2 years older than me, introduced me to illustrative typography.

Andre Gutler, the letter design teacher at School of Design, Basel, gave me in-depth perfection in quality and skill in letter form construction as well as roman script writing with a quill pen.

Adrian Frutiger, my friend, guru and mentor for my proficiency in Type Design. I had a great one-to-one working time and relation with him that has become my lifetime’s best. I stayed in the apartment above his studio and everybody was very excited to have me around, it was almost a year long festive time for all of us.

Bruno Pffafli, the typographer from Atelier Frutiger has become a great friend of mine. Apart from doing some professional projects with him, I had a great time with him, his wife and sons during off hours.

Ashoke Chaterjee, Executive Director of NID in 1970’s groomed me into an efficient performer, administrator and manager in design education. He was extremely supportive and kind to me.

 An assignment you particularly enjoyed doing as a student?

The 3 Letter forms “a,s, & n” in 3 weights and italic family with Andre Gutler. I was doing it for almost six months! It was completely freehand; I had a layer of almost 1 cm on my mount-board!  At the end I become a master, breathing my letter forms.

The most difficult assignment/project you had to as a designer?

An Exhibition Design project “UDYAM, A Theme Pavilion” at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi, for Ministry of Industry in 1979. I was the chief visualiser/designer.

What are your hobbies? Any favourite movies?

Collecting small idols made out of terracotta, metal etc.

Favourite movie: Hum Apke Hain Kaun,  Bagban, Paa

What are your opinions on design in India today vs. since when you started?

I started with design that was mostly dependent on our hand skills, precision and grid-based layouts.

Today, design is more idea and concept dominant with an identity/branding element. It is complex with layers, tricks and techniques that the computer makes possible. So it is a brand with a good mix of art, ideas, design and technology.

What are your opinions on the teaching methods in design schools today?  And what changes,   if any, would you like to suggest?

The syllabus as well as teaching at design schools is more or less linear, all the students need to do everything. It should be much more learner-centric and based on their choices, aspirations, mind set and objectives.

Do you think designers in India receive enough acknowledgements for their work?

No. The designers themselves do not respect, appreciate or acknowledge each other or their work most of the time. We hardly use any Indian designer’s work as an example or teaching reference.

The industry, however, mostly seems open to give credit to the designer.

One peculiar thing about you that your students don’t know?

I am a transparent person, I have a habit of using myself as a case to explain or motivate my students.

I prefer modest and economic things over precious items. I do not like to posses any gold, diamonds, cars, costly watches or pens. But I love the scooter..

Visual Works of Art

Videos can really floor you and there are so many examples of stunning pieces of motion and music out there on the web. Visual works of art that can put a smile on your face or simply make your jaw drop to the floor. The ones we have all drooled over and linked to each other many times. I have just three here to share with you and they are each awesome in their own way.

Woodkid – Iron
This one  has been on my Vimeo page for ages. I keep passing it by on my way to ‘Staff Picks’. So, yesterday I decided, let’s stop and give it a watch. And now I really think you should too.

I think this video is stunning in the way it is done. The pace of it is spot-on! Though the theme creates an atmosphere that is a bit dark, it has been done so wonderfully it kept me hooked till the end. It also introduced me to a new artist I now have a crush on. <REPEAT MODE ON>

Coldplay – Strawberry Swing
And when has Coldplay ever disappointed? Many videos like this have been made before. but, it’s Coldpaly and it’s sweet. Also, when geeks like me look at it we know what went into the making of it and there-in lies my fascination for this video.

BSS – Breakfast Interrupted
I am getting very excited about introducing this last video. My gosh! It’s really not what you think it is! Sure the title says ‘breakfast something…’ I was back from a heavy lunch and with this video on my screen thought, “Meh! Another food video.” I can honestly tell you I wasn’t prepared for what I saw.

All hail Bruton Stroube Studios! The brilliant people behind the awesome-ness that is Breakfast Interrupted. A visit to their website is mandatory. Their videos are all wonderfully thought out which makes these guys role-model material. Don’t forget to check out their brilliant studio building!

Designs in stone

I have often wondered what I would have chosen to study after school, had I not picked design. My answer is one that is common to most people who end up in design schools, one that is often called the greatest or oldest of all art forms. Architecture.

So much is common between being a designer and an architect. Being passionate about form, structure , balance and proportions; or integrating spaces, contexts and people to create and build the perfect experience. Utility, Durability and Beauty; the three principles of good architecture that have been outlined by Roman architect Vitruvius in the 1st century CE, are ones that can be as relevant for good designs as well.

It is no wonder then, that names of modern architects like Buckminster Fuller, Mies van der Rohe, Louis Kahn and Frank O.Gehry become part of a designer’s vocabulary. Continue reading “Designs in stone”

A wishing list

I love birthdays. I love that my Facebook wall gets flooded with birthday wishes, my phone doesn’t stop ringing and of course cake. It’s also an excuse to ask for whatever I want. My birthday is on the 19th of May, 6 days away. So here’s what will make me fly high in the sky. (In no particular order)

1. The new Harry Potter covers are drool-worthy, and since my current copies look like they’re on their deathbeds, these ones would be greatly appreciated.

Books I-VII

Continue reading “A wishing list”

Part 2- The Van Baarle method

In this next (and very late) part of my post I would like to present the works of the wonderful Lois Van Baarle, an artist whose name is as interesting as the art she creates. I was introduced to her illustrations when I joined DeviantArt and I’ve been hooked since painting one. I think it was the one below that first brought her to my attention.

It is her completely unique style that sets her apart from the million artists out there. You can honestly look at any art piece she’s made and know immediately that it’s simply…Loish. Continue reading “Part 2- The Van Baarle method”