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.

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..

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”

Without advertising, something terrible happens… nothing

While watching the ICC World Cup 2011, I also saw a lot of commercials. A lot of really crappy commercials. Commercials that made no sense. Commercials that made me want to hide from everybody who knew I was in advertising.

Actually, whenever I tell somebody I’m in advertising I get a dirty look, a look that says: Oh! So you’re the one I want to claw to death every time I try to watch some TV. And it’s scary. And also slightly hurtful. I mean hey, it’s not just our fault. The clients want us to make crap. In fact a lot of times a lot of those really horrid ads that you see, have come from a very rich client’s mind. And the only reason we give in, is because we just want our pets to lead a healthy well-nourished life. Isn’t that why the whole world has jobs. Continue reading “Without advertising, something terrible happens… nothing”

The nine _____ of cats

A long time ago Design Observer did a post on Cats and their designers, where they asked designers from around the world to submit pictures of themselves with their cats.

My love for cats is no secret. At least for the people who know me. I love all sorts of animals, but cats are above the rest. There is something about their sparkling eyes, the fact that they make you run after them and not the other way around. And also, nobody loves the camera as much as cats do. I think that is one of the reasons most designers are obsessed with them. Continue reading “The nine _____ of cats”

Food for thought

After working on packaging graphics one after the other, it was a pleasant change to design a booklet.

Good news: I had to design a recipe booklet!

But here’s the flip side: Blah! I had to look at tempting food shots which I couldn’t eat! I so wanted to kill someone… 😛

But I must admit that the project was really interesting. The idea was to provide guidance to make clear communication choices, both verbally and visually. Food shots offer various possibilities for creating visual excitement. Continue reading “Food for thought”

Perfect truth, love and beauty

My sister is quite the reader, books, magazines, blogs. When she’s not writing she’s reading, or buying books.

So, last week she came home with the Penguin Evergreens collection. A set of 14 beautiful books. The series has been designed by Bena Sareen, creative designer at Penguin India. The beauty of all these covers is in their simplicity. The use of the penguin orange with stark black illustrations left me mesmerized.

The collection is brilliant. Not only, because of the beautiful designs, but the stories too. Continue reading “Perfect truth, love and beauty”