Satish Gangaiah speaks extensively about the intricacies of successfully illustrating today’s scenarios, also sharing the key elements involved in the process.
Satish Gangaiah is an independent illustrator and designer based in Bangalore and has 15 years of experience with ad agencies, media publishing houses, the IT industry, and the likes. Known for his vibrant palette and thick bold lines, he is also involved in collaborations and commissions.
Kindly take us through your 15-year journey as a designer and illustrator – how it all began; how did you take it forward and where are you now?
Satish Gangaiah: My career as a designer or an illustrator has not been a smooth ride; it always has its ups and downs. Throughout these 15-plus years of experience, I have learned to negotiate different challenges I have faced. My beginnings were very humble but, in the later stages of my career, my practice has evolved with technology and my further understanding of design thinking.
Today, I find myself and my practice being more versatile than before, where I can see my artworks becoming more contemporary, representing the urban fabric that surrounds us.
What are your criteria for selecting commissions and collaborations?
Satish Gangaiah: I am very selective when it comes to taking up commission work or working with clients. My main criterion is always freedom in creative exploration. Usually, I avoid clients who ask me to stick to or work in a style that is not my own. I see every project I take up as a unique learning experience. I always look forward to collaborating with a good team that understands and trusts my design skills.
Your characters largely appear quirky and inspired by ‘everyday life. Can you please elaborate on them?
Satish Gangaiah: I take my inspiration from the absurdity of everyday life. I admire the polyphony and the complexities which structures our society and forms the very basis of our identity. It is this colloquial nature that I observe and interpret from within my artworks. I always feel this quirky approach bridges the gap between an idea’s visualization to our real-life scenarios.
Can you please point out significant clients you’ve had and elaborate on the projects you’ve worked on with them?
Satish Gangaiah: I worked with many clients and various projects throughout my career. I have had an amazing time working on them and have learned a lot through that process. Amongst all the projects which I have worked on, I can mention the sticker design project which I did for Facebook. This project allowed me to design something for a huge spectrum of people and the response was so overwhelming that I was satisfied with my effort.
What valuable lessons or insights have you learned along the way since you started?
Satish Gangaiah: I have learned that time management is the biggest convener towards achievement and success along with quick thinking and providing smart solutions. This industry comes with its own unique set of challenges. The ability to understand and relate to the end-user is always the key to success for any artwork.
Could you please tell us more about the sticker design project for Facebook – the brief, how you approached and executed it, and describe the result achieved?
Satish Gangaiah: The sticker design project for Facebook was one of the most exciting and challenging projects I have worked on till now. Facebook presented me with data gathered from its users’ interactions with their posts and comments. This data was gathered from a large India-specific user group, based on their day-to-day interactions and usage.
Facebook identified me for this project as they liked my style of work and found it appropriate for the design expression they wanted. I started by analyzing this user-experience data given to me. I then visualized the data as fragments of culminated lived experiences that represented an ‘Indian’ context. The core content of my visualization was to represent the nativity of common people in their mundane situations.
I spent a lot of time researching and studying body language, colloquial characteristics, gestures, and the appearance of common people in different geographical and cultural contexts. Through these characteristics, along with the data provided by Facebook, I came up with these stickers with a quirky feel, which in their way represents the diversity of our nation.
What are the stages and phases of your illustrative process, from initial conceptualization to the first drafts until the finishing touches?
Satish Gangaiah: I start my work based on the client’s requirements. Usually, at this stage, I start with a mood board which helps me visualize and explain the end product and outcome to the client. Simultaneously, I also come up with a few key sketches through which I arrive at rough drafts. I present the drafts along with the mood board to the client and work on the feedback or iterations if necessary.
My final step is to digitize the drafts toward the final artwork, keeping references from the mood boards such as color schemes and compositions. This is the process I use for most of my projects.
What skills, techniques and other aspects of your work have you modified through the years, and what made you choose those changes?
Satish Gangaiah: Most of the time it was the client’s requirement that dictated my technique of working but I can say that my work has shifted tremendously towards Vector-based artworks from Raster-based artworks which I used to do earlier. I made this shift as I noticed that vector helped me fine-tune and develop a style of my own and I could adopt my ideas and visualizations easier through the vector. In the end, it worked out to be more user-friendly for my kind of design expression.
What do you feel is the future course of evolution in the field of illustration?
Satish Gangaiah: Advancement in social media has given a good spotlight and scope for illustrations. Most businesses now want to use this medium for effective communication. It is also a good medium for explaining a product or service. These recent developments have made the medium of illustration more relevant and we can see this trend becoming stronger in the times to come.