All of us are interwoven in the realm of creative art and design; be it the ads we see on television, the merchandise we buy, or the aesthetic wallpapers of which all of us are big fans! But do you know the process behind creating those fantastic illustrations and designs?
To enlighten us on his journey as a creative director, we had an exclusive interview with Vidyut Dhanwantri, who works for the creative studio — LMV Creative — that he started in 2016. He has been in this field since 2011, and so has imparted his inspirations, techniques, and… well, read for yourself!
What influenced you to become who you are today?
As far as I remember, when I was a kid, I used to draw in those colouring books, had an old Pentium 286 computer at home, and in my dad’s office, I used to mess around on the paint software, drawing random shapes. I have these vague memories, though gradually it started getting more serious. I started taking drawing lessons in school, was doodling and sketching around in high school, and automatically, from a hobby, it turned into my profession. However, it was not a breakthrough — that one day I drew a sketch, and it was amazing; it came naturally as a hobby and ended up being my profession.
Describe the work you depict through your illustration, or about your signature style of art and design.
I can explain my style in three concepts that I always end up following. First comes simplicity & execution, followed by complexity, and last, honesty. Simplicity and execution imply that the work always has to be simple, especially in my field, as I do a lot of commercial design. I’m a commercial designer, not an artist. Surely, my work has to be simple, so that everyone understands and appreciates it. It doesn’t have to be too complex. Another thing is complexity but in the concept. The story behind the design can’t be any empty design. It has to be solid, with some weight behind it. Lastly, it should be honest. All in all, honest work with a nice story behind it, executed simply is my signature style of work.
Describe your ideal day at work.
Because of the current situation, we’re all working from home, so I don’t have to wake up early. I wake up on my own time because I work with suppliers outside the country. After waking up, the first thing I do is to check all my emails and get them out of the way. When I have to work, it’s about getting all those distractions out of the way because often, when you finish a project, you are just left with the mundane work, where you have to make all the adaptations, change sizes, and such. Basically, things that don’t need a lot of thinking. So, I get that out of the way first because in the morning you’re the most active.
The rest of the day comprises the sizable chunk of work, like conceptualizing, brainstorming, or thinking about stories for the brand you’re designing for, which is the major part. Lastly, I send out emails again, and then I am closed for the day. However, it’s pretty relaxed as of now because we are working from home, and we have freedom.
What is the first thing you do when starting a new project, and how do you know when the job is complete? What techniques and resources do you use to turn your ideas into reality?
If I have to describe it from start to finish, the opening of the project is with research, followed by conceptualization on paper. So, pen and paper would be the principal resources. After all, you all need to have these to think of the concept, doodle, and make a list of your ideas, and the final resources are the usual suspects. Moreover, we have Adobe, Photoshop, and Illustrator for designing. These days, I’m doing video as well, so I use Adobe After Effects and Premiere too. These are the basic techniques I follow.
How would you describe the ways your clients approach you? How influential would you say social media is in getting publicity for your work?
It’s truly fortunate for us because, in the UAE, word of mouth is more prevalent than social media or websites, as this is the Dubai culture. If you have a good reputation, you’re going to be successful. So, when we started, we got a few big projects and luckily, it’s been a stable flow of work. It was like a chain reaction over the years because we got the first client, then the second client through the first, and then our next. To be honest, I think over the four or five years that I’ve been doing this for my company, we’ve probably only got two or so clients through the website or from Instagram while the rest of our clients came through live referral and networking. However, internationally, like in the UK or Canada, social media is important, but here in Dubai, word of mouth is the key.
In what ways do you get inspired to produce a piece of artwork?
Take, for instance — I need to design a logo for a company that’s making headphones. In the past, I used to make the mistake of rendering past artworks and other campaigns, but I stopped doing that because, from the back of my mind, it makes you link your designs, or it makes your design similar to what you have seen recently. To escape from that, I examine the company itself. If the company is well-branded, already with a good brand story, mission statement, and a strong conceptual vision, I inspect the whole personality of the brand, try to get inspired by that, look at their products and attributes — what the product is, what their unique selling point is. I try to get inspired by those points and create fresh ideas from them, rather than looking at other brands selling the same products.
How do you overcome a creative block?
This is normal these days because of the lockdown when you are not going outside and sitting at home the entire day; there’s no stimulus for you. So, what helps me best is not getting frustrated. If you do, then the creative block stays and sticks with you. You simply need to acknowledge the creative block, embrace it, accept that your brain is blocked, and have a nap or exercise.
For so many years, I’ve been told that your mind works better if you do some physical exercise, which I never understood. However, recently that changed because of this pandemic. After all, we all learned a few lessons. I also browse Reddit sometimes to check random facts, process videos, and how they are made. A show on the Discovery Channel showed how peanut butter is made. I watched it because such a mind-filtering process video clears your head and eliminates all your distractions so that you can start afresh.
Your Instagram feed revealed your interest in photography and travelling. So, does this help you while innovating new ideas and designs?
Without a doubt, travel is 100% key for any creative person, because it opens up your mind to everything around the world. You can see it on TV or the internet, but when actually you go there, it broadens your whole perspective about the materials, different countries, colours and textures they use, as well as all these little details around you, or things you might not have noticed at first instance which automatically resets your perception about everything. Besides, photography for sure helps because you want to save those moments properly. I do photography, but mainly for design. I don’t do portraits or any commercial shoots. You could say that I do abstract photography to create designs for my projects.
Tell us about a project in which you were involved, where one of your illustrations contributed to the development of a brand image.
There were some projects for which we constantly get recognition, even today. One of them was for the 43rd National Day of UAE when we came up with the name U43. So, the 4 and the 3 resembled the letters A and E. This was an illustrated version of the letters. There was a world record event for the longest graffiti wall in the world. So, many graffiti artists from around the world came and painted this long graffiti wall in the shape of the UAE outline. So, this was one of our biggest projects.
Another one was when we made a set of caps and t-shirts for Sheikh Mohammed’s private biking race. We do this annually as well; the first time we did it, we came up with illustrations that we put on the t-shirt and the caps, instead of just the logo. We advised them to not put the logo since nobody’s going to wear it otherwise. We have been doing this kind of work for the past four years now. So, I would say these two.
How do you keep yourself motivated when a project does not appeal to you?
This is the part of the job where you have to be blessed — or where I feel I’m blessed — because this is rare. Designing, for me, is more of a hobby, and fortunately for me, it’s also my profession. So, it’s uncommon I feel annoyed that I have to work on this, or I’m not motivated.
When I’m not motivated, I take a break and treat it as a creative block. I have a nap, walk, or watch TV and then get back to it, which is fine. It certainly makes me feel blessed that it doesn’t happen a lot because I know there are many out there in these boring desk jobs and every day, they find it hard to be motivated, since they’re just sitting in front of a computer screen, and accomplishing something they’re not passionate about.
Every profession has some myths attached to it. Any myths about your profession that you would like to bust?
I have this issue every time I work on a new project with a new client. I have to educate them about the value of design because when I charge a certain amount for a design, they come back and say, “Oh! Why would I pay this much for this design!” or “Why is the design priced so much!” They have these questions, assuming the design is not a big part. You need to educate your clients patiently about the value of your work while helping them understand why a good design is costly, and a shoddy design cheap. Then, if you can show them the value, everyone’s going to understand. If you cannot convince them about the value of your work, then you’re stuck.
What differentiates success and failure when trying to establish yourself as an illustrator?
One of the fundamental things is doing honest work and not ripping off original work. I know a lot of designers who have ripped off work. This might work for a bit, but then eventually it will bring you down and fail you for sure. So, you need to figure out how to do unique and fair work that you’re pleased with. If you have faithful work, it’s going to be successful because the world presents many opportunities. There are always going to be people who appreciate your work. If one client doesn’t like your design, it doesn’t mean all your clients will not like your work. I’m sure there’s always a percentage because designs are subjective. So, you have to keep at it, not lose hope, be honest with your work, and don’t plagiarize or steal people’s work.
What message would you like to give to our readers?
I would say be truly clear about the direction you want to go in. When I studied design, I understood that there were many routes. You can go into concepts, graphic design, corporate graphic design, where you know a bit of advertising and the commercial part, but also the more artistic part. Sometimes, money might be less initially, but your job satisfaction might be more. On the commercial side, your job satisfaction is not as much, but you get paid more.
So, you need to do your research, understand what you’re passionate about, and follow through. At the same time, you have to always have contingency plans, keep your options wide, be curious, and learn about everything and anything possible. With everything taken into account, curiosity, learning, research, and understanding what you want are pivotal.
Get in touch: LMV Creative
This creative mastermind lives by his mantra of “everything works out in the end” — nothing matters when it’s the end. You can read it any way you want; in the end, everything works out.