Today we meet Australian designer Karan Singh. Karan is an experienced designer who has worked with a wide range of clients from local boutiques to internationally recognized brands. Learn more about Karan and his Illustrations after the jump.
Q Hi Karan, welcome to Vectortuts+. Tell us a little about yourself, where are you from, why did you decide to become a designer and what are the main stages of studying your profession, what is your educational background?
Hi Iaroslav, thanks for having me. I’m of Indian origin however, have spent most of my life in Sydney, Australia. I’ve been in Melbourne for the last three years and have been loving it.
I was first introduced to design via friend in high school who gave me a copy of Macromedia Flash. Things kind of snowballed from there, I quickly became obsessed, and as a result it defined what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
I studied at ‘Design Computing’ at the University of Sydney which had a focus on interaction design and installation art. There was a heavy emphasis on the development side of things and through this I came to the realization that I had a particular affinity for the aesthetic side of things.
I taught myself Illustrator and Photoshop during this degree (I’d been making everything in Flash prior to this) and as a result chose illustration and design as my preferred profession upon completing the degree. I had a brief stint in Malm, Sweden as an exchange student which I later extended; it was a crucial stage in defining what I wanted to do for a living.
Q You’ve worked with a wide range of clients from local boutiques to internationally recognized brands. What are your principles for working with clients? What jobs are you happy to take and what jobs will you say no? Which well-known brands have you worked with?
Working in a studio full time had educated in me in the etiquette of dealing with clients, large and small. I’ve learned about professionalism in the industry and as a result have implemented a lot of these lessons into practice in the day to day running of my own business. Open and honest communication with a client, a fair budget and an achievable timeline to meet expectations are key principles in creating a memorable project which pleases all parties.
Working as a freelance illustrator means that clients are likely to come to me for my style style or a belief in your ability by viewing your work. I’m happy to take on most kinds of work provided that they fulfill the above principles. I’ve had the pleasure of working on projects with MTV, GQ Magazine, Wired and Nickelodeon to name a few.
Q You’re only a few months into your solo career, but you are quite familiar with the ‘How to Find a Job?’ question. Do you have your own answer?
I don’t consider myself an expert on the topic at all, being a freelancer is perhaps one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done as you are the new business, accounts and design department all in one. It’s taught me a lot about myself through the fluctuation of jobs and finances.
I recently wrote an article about it for my side project ‘Pig Bimpin‘ where I talk about a few measures to promote oneself, the key of it all is to be proactive. The second you sit back and wait for a job to land in your lap is when you’re in trouble. There is no golden answer, as I’m still very much an apprentice of the trade and am learning from all the mistakes and good fortune that line the way.
Q What is your opinion on the evolution of design? Don’t you think that in an era of rapid development of the internet, style becomes more average, when designers borrow something from each other and imitate it?
Design has certainly become more appreciated as a result of it’s evolution. It’s a double edged sword, but with the advent of the internet, it’s unavoidable. I feel like the best way to deal with it is to acknowledge and adapt to it by not dissolving oneself in it.
I think that over-exposure to inspiration and trends is damaging to one’s originality and style. I don’t believe that styles suffer due to the increasing prominence of the internet, if anything creativity is flourishing and because of online art and design communities we’re more aware of them.
Q You’ve communicated with plenty of talented designers. Do you share something in common in their choice of design as a profession. Is it the desire to become famous, make money, express yourself? What motivates people to choose their own path in life?
I’ve been able to communicate with a lot of really talented people through being a member of the international art collective; Depthcore. It’s been an invaluable experience working and speaking with like-minded creatives who share your passion for illustration. I’ve been able to hone my skills with their feedback and critique.
I’m grateful that I get to do what I love for a living; the motivation for money comes from the need to pay the rent and also so that I can feed my penchant for travel and sneakers. Whilst financial freedom is heavily sought after, I’ve come to learn in recent years that there’s a lot of truth in the saying “Money can’t buy happiness”.
Q Do you believe that once being inspired by the works of other designers, you will never be able to find your own way, your style? I asked this question many designers and I would always get the same answer: “there is nothing wrong in being inspired of someone else works, it is normal.” Intuitively, I feel that it is not so. What do you think about this?
I disagree, I think inspiration is important but it shouldn’t define your style. Additionally, inspiration shouldn’t be restricted to other peoples work but anything and everything, ranging from nature to maths to your Mum’s table cloth. Most people started out because they saw someone’s work and loved it so much that they wanted to replicate it, but as people evolve through the use of new mediums and different techniques, they develop something of their own.
Q Tell us a little about your new Pig Bimpin project. Why did you create it?
Pig Bimpin’ is a side project I started late last year. The idea spawned after reading a lot of articles and interviews about designers I really looked up to who were asked the same monotonous questions. I figured that I knew a bunch of really talented creatives and set out to start interviewing and photographing them, the result is interviews with substance and focus more about the person than the work itself. I felt like that was something that I hadn’t seen around. I feel that designers, being the most creative people on the planet, all have a unique and interesting story to tell.
Q I know that you have an interesting opinion on creative blocks. Tell our readers about it? Maybe you know how to avoid them?
As I mentioned before, my own creative block stems from being over- exposed to design magazines and inspiration blogs. The truth is however, there’s no way to avoid creative blocks and I think people who say they don’t get them aren’t being completely honest.
The most intimidating thing in a creative block is the blank canvas. I think the best way to overcome them is to keep things simple; sketch out you ideas on paper so you have a plan of action, then when you do take things onto the computer you’re not second guessing every move. Always make room for experiments and happy accidents as that’s the best way to allow for your style to evolve.
Q Many people are interested in learning about the creation of an artwork. What feelings and thoughts prompt the author to create it. Do you have an artwork that reveals your feelings, and shows your inner world better than the other ones do?
Crimson Premonition is a pretty meaningful artwork to me. I made it at a pretty sobering time of a my life, where I was faced with some harsh realities. Making work like that is almost therapeutic in that expressing helps coping with it. It also provides a hallmark in the timeline of your work; when looking back it’s nice to see how work changes over the years as a result of these pieces.
Q What in life makes you feel good, Karan? What makes you feel bad? What do you enjoy?
It sounds a little lame but I really enjoy what I do for a living and new gigs always get me excited and bursting with ideas and concepts. Outside of work, I really enjoy travel, a frothy latte, new sneakers, a crisp beer and a Pizza on a hot day. Things that make me feel bad are spec work, pineapples and people who wear UGG boots outside the house.
Q Tell us about your plans for the future. Do you plan your life in general?
I’d love to live and work overseas. Currently, my girlfriend and I are juggling a list of cities which we would love to move to hopefully by the end of the year, including but not limited to: Tokyo, Copenhagen or New York. Right now I’m excited about potentially heading to the OFFF conference in Barcelona, Spain to see Depthcore present and meet all the fellow artists.
Q Thanks for the interview, any parting words for us.
Thanks so much for having me Iaroslav. Do what you love, love what you do.