No Skill Or Knowledge Can Be Mastered In A Day - Gajesh Mitkari

Gajesh Mitkari

Observe things, people more carefully and Design solutions to simple everyday problems around them.

1. Give a short biography of yours. 

I was born and brought up in Nagpur, Maharashtra. Both my parents are teachers, and I have an elder sibling who’s a Doctor. I was a very mischievous, troublesome & Prankish child. I used to steal money from home to buy chocolates, bully, and prank my classmates in school and Get into fights with them. 

Until one day, When I had a fight with a classmate and he ended up bleeding, one of our teachers got so furious about this, she abused and kept slapping me till I went unconscious. I refused to go to school after that incident, My parents tried everything they could but I didn’t listen. 

After a while, they gave up, Some Relatives and Neighbours started recommending treatments because they thought I was a mentally challenged kid.

My parents let me stay home, But I couldn’t stay alone all day and got bored very soon, So to make use of all the time I had with me, I used to roam around in our vicinity, observe plants, birds, trees, Talk and play with dogs, Visit a sculptor near our house and sit and make something out of clay with him, Draw and do everything my mind wanted to do. 

This all went on for about a year and after that My mother decided to take me to her school, I used to go with her on her luna, Sometimes I used to fall asleep on the way back home, so she used to tie me with her dupatta so I don’t fall. I used to sit at the back of her classroom and just watch her teach, I learned my basic schooling from her.

One day, Her school had organized a drawing competition for the school kids, and she asked me to participate, I participated and won it. That was my first drawing competition and my first prize, I was 6.

After a year, My father got me admitted into a Marathi medium school, I participated in Theatre, did monologues, and won in a few more Drawing competitions. But I was still a bully but was spared because of winning in multiple interschool competitions. 

After the fourth standard, My father admitted me into the school where he has been teaching, I was put in a semi-English medium section. For another two years, I kept bullying fellow batchmates and getting into fights with them until my father scolded me and threatened me that if I don’t behave, he would put me back in the previous school. 

I was scared, That’s when things took a turn, I Shifted from the last bench to the first bench, Participated in every extracurricular activity, participated in every interschool competition, performed plays, danced, studied, and won many drawing competitions.

From getting influenced by friends and having no idea in career selection, I decided to pursue engineering after school, so for my high school, I selected Science as a stream. 

I joined an IIT oriented coaching, I hardly got any time during that period to work on anything else due to studies, I even bunked college lectures and preferred to stay home or go to coaching so that I can study on my own.

I spent 12 hours a day studying, but after a while, I couldn’t really focus, That’s when my father asked me to also read about and prepare for architecture Because I was good at drawing.

I joined an architecture entrance coaching and this was another addition to my busy schedule. I used to go to IIT coaching in the morning, College in the afternoon, and Architecture classes in the evening, It was all very chaotic, But a lot of learning. 

Finally, I gave JEE, NATA, JEE (Arch), and NID entrance tests. The idea of becoming an engineer left my brain a long time back, probably the day I joined my architecture classes. I scored very bad in my JEE But cleared all the other entrances with good marks. 

I cleared the first round for NID and was called for the interview round by the institution, it was 2015, but I lost my seat by one mark. But NID wasn’t even in the picture back then, All I wanted to do is to become an Architect, So I joined a Private Insitute in my Hometown, Nagpur. 

I did great in the first semester, But the beginning of the second semester of my Architecture school had me in doubts to weather pursue it or not. Luckily my parents understood the scenario and asked me if I would like to prepare for NID again. 

After thinking it thoroughly for almost a month, I prepared my mind, initial two months were the most difficult ones, I attended college, Worked on my college assignments throughout the day, and studied and prepared for NID during Night. After a while, I decided to drop out, I am lucky to have parents who supported the idea of dropping out.

It wasn’t easy at all, Because if I don’t get into NID, I would’ve had to start everything all over again, and I really wasn’t ready to do that. So I did my best, Worked 15 Hours a day, Prepared a very strong portfolio.

The year 2016, I got into NID. My hard work finally made some sense to me. Life really changed after I got into the college everyone dreams of getting into. But again, Challenges never leave you, even here, I had a lot of challenges to overcome, And I am glad I faced them, They made me what I am today. 

2. When and how did you choose to be a graphic designer?  

I have always been an avid storyteller, and that’s why when I was in the first year, I thought of becoming an Animator, So I could animate my stories,  the medium always fascinated me.

But By the end of my first year, I decided to shift to Graphic Design, There were multiple reasons. I realized how Graphic design is not limited to one single medium, There are multiple things one can explore in this field, and it’s a very strong medium. 

My overall background and what I faced till now made me select Graphic design, I wanted to explore more in Illustration, Printmaking, Typography, Marketing, and Graphic design for films.

I opted for Graphic Design by the end of my first year. We are taught the basics of Design in the first year and we get into our Majors by the end of the First Year.

3. What is the role and scope of work for a graphic designer?  

A role of a Graphic Designer might include multiple responsibilities, Everything you see around which has Text and information related to any topic is available to you because of Graphic design. 

The newspapers you read has advertisements, Television has advertisements, You get to know about new films through posters, News channels has Graphic elements to convey news headline easily to its viewers, the apps on your phone, Games, Books.

A Graphic Designers' role is to prepare requirements by gathering information and data, The scope of work includes visualizing and creating graphics including illustrations, Photo collages, Fonts, logos, layouts, etc. A Graphic Designer shapes a website, an application, Books & Magazines, Packaging of a product. 

The work ranges from Designing signage systems to designing exhibitions.

Graphic Designers can also work for films as art directors or designing the required materials for a film. The availability and scope of work for a Graphic designer are vast, Every Industry requires a Graphic designer, to make their work or service reach to a wider population through easy and understandable language and visuals.

4. Which are some of the tools & software that a graphic designer must be aware of?  

For practising Graphic Design, the basic needed software are:

• Adobe Illustrator (For vector illustrations, Basic type design),

• Photoshop (For Photo editing and enhancing, Collages, Digital artworks, Frame by frame animation),

• After effects (For Motion Design Video editing),

• InDesign (For Layout, Documents, Presentations),

• Premiere Pro (Film & Video editing),

• Microsoft word and excel are a must, they are important for data curation and sorting.

It’s also recommended to learn 3D software as the requirements from the industries have been upgrading every single day,
Here are the 3D Digital asset software you can learn,

• Adobe Dimension ( Packaging Prototypes, 3D illustrations)

• Blender

• Cinema 4D

• Unity 3D

But other than all these software, It’s really important to have an understanding of the basics of using Colour theory, Composition, Gestalt, Layout, Typography, etc. These all make the foundation of any good Graphic designer, Only having the knowledge of the mentioned software doesn’t necessarily make one a Graphic designer.

5. How in your opinion has this profession changed over the years?  

It has definitely changed a lot in all these years. When I started studying Graphic design as my Major in 2017, I had only 1% knowledge of what it is, what it can do, and why it’s necessary.

The History of Graphic Design is Vast, I will say the first Graphical representation of something was when our ancestors, Homo Sapiens painted on the walls inside their caves, Pictures of them hunting, putting up the fire, or just dancing, now these representations have become one of the most important parts of our studies about the history of Humans.

Then next comes the Ancient Egypt, Where Hieroglyphs was a Language consisting of only icons and symbols and the paintings of Egyptian Pharaohs inside the pyramids and their kingdom, contributing to again an understanding of the ancient Egyptian History.

Moving to the World War where Propoganda Posters and animated cartoons were created, and these were so powerful, the result of them is known worldwide, 

Coming to Indian Independence where flyers promoting banning of English clothes were circulated amongst the Indian Population by Gandhiji, And now to the twentieth century where Graphic Design has evolved to promote not only films but make Rocket science and such complex ideas simple for people like you and me.

With a Change in every industry, Graphic Design evolves along with it.
If the Industry evolves every single day, graphic design has to go hand in hand with it and evolve.

In the initial days, people didn’t really consider this an important profession, It Is still considered as a luxury in some parts of India, People don’t really understand or know the amount of work that goes behind even a single logo, Many people still ask us to make designs for them for free.

But I guess times are changing and people have started realizing the profession properly now.

6. Do you often have to keep upskilling yourself?  

As I mentioned earlier that every change in the Industries around us creates a new opportunity for Graphic Designers, Change, and Graphic Design go hand in hand.

To be an active Graphic Designer and keep getting work, It’s really important to understand the market and its changes, so naturally one has to upskill themselves in order to not only survive in this industry but also do good and meaningful work.

A good Graphic Designer is the one who understands the market very well if he/she doesn’t then they must study, read more and keep themselves updated with every new change. 

Understanding the needs of the client is the first and very important stage to deliver work that speaks for itself. and without upskilling ourselves, we can’t really deliver something that will not only be good but also a founding stone for the next batch/generation of Graphic Designers. 

7. How can one develop a keen sense of design and aesthetics?  

“Rome wasn’t built in a day”

Just like the quote I mentioned above, No skill or knowledge can be mastered in a day. One has to study the history, Practice, and keep making mistakes in order to get really good at it.

Graphic Design is no different. One needs to understand the purpose of Graphic design first to become a good, successful Designer.

The best way to understand the purpose? Read about it, It’s History, Invention,
Mediums it has, how it changed human history, new trends in Graphic design, and the future of Graphic design. Reading helps us understand the in-depth knowledge of the field, Practicing it helps us improve.

I would suggest the individual who wants to develop their skills as a Graphic designer to Observe things, people more carefully and Design solutions to simple everyday problems around them.  

Click pictures of everything, sketch someone or something live, Make logos for your friend's Instagram page, Help a friend with an identity for his Photography page on Facebook, Help your neighbourhood aunty with packaging for her homemade Achar(Pickle)! 

Make a poster for a college event, Make invitations for your birthday party, Make cartoons based on your everyday experiences with people, places, and animals. 

This is what we call learning by doing in the Design industry, Now obviously the output won’t be great every time, but that’s really not the point, the point is to be a learner forever. 

Gradually shift towards bigger and more meaningful design projects, learn new terminologies, learn new software so you can explore representing your ideas through different mediums, be very fluid when it comes to changing to a different medium when the requirement asks for it.

Eventually, you’ll be able to come up with solutions to many problems. Learning should never stop though, We all should be lifetime learners. 

8. Your favourite book and why?  

It’s a really difficult question for me to be honest, can’t really name one favourite, But I will share my top two.

My first favourite is a Graphic Novel called “Blankets” by Craig Thompson. It’s his autobiographical graphic novel that focuses on his early childhood, teenage, his life with his Evangelical Christian Family, his first love, and his early adulthood. 

The book beautifully captures all the emotions the author went through at every stage of his life and I found it very relatable to how I am as a person and my background story, It was a milestone in the progress of the American Graphic Novel. 

The visual language of the book has grace and emotions poured into it that it can easily leave anyone reading it teary-eyed. It’s one of the best examples of the art of cartooning and blending words and emotions with it. a Must read for everyone.

My Second Favourite is, “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” By Robert Kiyosaki.
The books focus on the importance of financial literacy, Building wealth through investing in assets, Starting a business, and Financial independence so well that I can’t think of any other book to teach me about all this. 

I have always been into startups and Entrepreneurship and would like to have my own Studio or Company someday. 

After reading “Steve Jobs; the man who thought differently”,  It was important to learn more about starting a business.  If one wants to venture into the start-up world and become financially independent and successful, this book is a must!

- Gajesh Mitkari (Graphic Designer)

Interviewed By Tuhina Rana

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