Close up view of female designer pointing on color shade swatch and choosing color for new project at her desk in office

Learning Curve: Creative Edition

Learning Curve is an educational series for newcomers in the agency world, students looking to enter it after graduation or even seasoned vets seeking inspiration. In this edition of our OH learning from agency experts series, Art Director Veda Nagpurkar explains key factors for those who are newly entering the creative arts industry.From graphic designers to illustrators, how does the conception of a creative project begin? Veda says simply, “start somewhere and improvise.” These are words of wisdom for any creative work, but for newcomers in the industry or students studying the craft, is it really that easy?

Learn the Craft, then Ask for Help.

For Veda, school was a place to practice both design and resourcefulness. Veda’s background is in commercial art, which she studied at Sir Jamsetjee Jeejebhoy School of Art in Mumbai, and she later received her master’s in graphic design at The Savannah College of Art and Design.

“I learned quite a bit about the overall user journey, research and the background that goes into creating any creative work, whether it’s for an ad, tv spot, or a website,” Veda said. “[Education] gave me a new perspective on learning as a whole, instead of only the act of designing.”

Regardless of being self-taught or coming from academia, reaching out to industry professionals and being involved in the creative community can make life-changing connections.

While reaching out to industry professionals can be intimidating, it’s important to show your portfolio to anyone, Veda said. “I sent mine out to some of the biggest design companies, like Pentagram, and I literally got feedback from Michael Beirut!”

It’s easy to get caught up in design trends like using too much Pantone Color of the Year, or the font du jour (gotta love Futura) but this can pigeonhole you as a professional.

You don’t want to put too much energy into “what is my creative style/identity” Veda emphasizes because when working with clients, the client work can take any shape or form. The mood should be able to change along with the brand voice and feel.

Creative Process
Word clouds, thumbnail sketches, collages from magazines, doodles on an iPad Pro and anything tactile should be a part of your creative process. “If it’s organic and tactile, not just moving around pixels, your creative brain will be able to go and do,” Veda points out.


*Pictured above are some of Veda’s sketches.

Take a look at brands you love, and set your work apart while still finding inspirational nuggets. However, being “inspired by” art or brand work shouldn’t mean “defined by” when developing style. Inspiration should help in staying versatile, instead of isolating your design into one category.

When to Stop

“I stop when I’m satisfied with the work,” Veda said. “Keep going until the work speaks to the brand and has meaning without saying too much.”

In terms of design, Veda relates to work that is super simple but meaningful. “I think that less is more and if I can stop taking away things from a design and it still means what it has to mean, then it’s finished.”

Most importantly, don’t create a roadblock of “how is this going to turn out,” or “it’s not good enough.” Go make something and then improve on that idea over and over again.

“Comparison is so natural and it’s everywhere on social media, but don’t be intimidated to use that for inspiration to progress in your craft,” Veda said.

So, what have we learned, class? If we had to create SparkNotes we’d say…
• Regardless of your education level, you must put your work out into the field.
• Schooling isn’t enough to truly know your craft; engage in seminars, webinars and stay involved in your local creative community.
• Never compare your work to others, it can stall your creative process and cause some serious blockages.
• Last but not least, know when to take a step back, breathe a little and appreciate the work you’ve made.

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