Applied art is used to convey a message. It could mean pushing the miracles of an anti-ageing cream, simplifying and explaining a complex process for readers/viewers, making a user-friendly map for easy navigation, a logo which captures the essence of a company, an amusing animation film, creating for poster, just to give a few examples. As an illustrator, you might make an illustration manually and scan it for use or use one of the different softwares to do the task.
What do they do?
In her words, Ajanta Guhathakurta, 35, gives a "face to text". So, one moment she's creating a cute teddy bear or lily for a story book, next she's designing the jacket for a non-fiction book.
Winner of a certificate for her illustrations at the 2002 International Board on Books for Young People Congress in Switzerland, Guhathakurta has lent her creative touch to Letters from a father to his daughter (collection of Jawaharlal Nehru's letters), and done the jackets of books like MG Vassanji's The Gunny Sack and Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi's The Last Song of Dusk.
Like in many walks of life today, the computer has become her easel but this graphic designer and illustrator also does oil paintings at her studio.
"I did five years as an illustrator. I struggled in those five years as an illustrator only (at The Children's Book Trust). Then I got a break in Penguin where I started designing books," says the Senior Design Manager, Puffin and Ladybird Design, Penguin group.
Today, Guhathakurta says, "There's immense scope" in this field.
The canvas has exploded for those bubbling with ideas. It stretches from book jackets, broadsheets, magazine leaves, print ads, billboards, to stationery, promotional pamphlets, posters, CD covers, corporate merchandise, technical catalogues, packaging, to designing exhibition stalls.
Academics and professional practitioners vouch for the tonnes of work available in the market. M Vijayamohan, Principal, College of Art (COA), Delhi, says prospects are very good for students of applied art. "Our students start earning even when they are in the second year." Advertising agencies lap students up during the college's annual exhibition in March. Most students go to the industry - publishing houses (like Guhathakurta, a COA alum), advertising agencies, design studios, and media outlets including television channels. Many people freelance. Teaching, of course, is also an option.
Adds illustrator Atanu Roy, 59, who has his art studio in Gurgaon, "The sky is the limit. It's a vast industry." He, however, adds you should know the difference between the art, that is ideas and craft, meaning skills. "It's ideas that matter. Your awareness should be very high."
Guhathakurta cautions that aspirants shouldn't "leave practising. That's what's happening. They forget the basics. That's what I've been observing for the last 11 years. They get into computer thing so much that they forget manual drawing."
- Oodles of creativity and imagination
- Technological savvy
- General awareness
How do I get there?
After 10+2, you could go for a BFA programme in applied art, painting, animation or visual communication or even sculpture, depending upon your interests and abilities. The programmes are available at College of Arts in many cities. The well-known National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, also provides training in this field. The entry process usually involves an aptitude test. Many private institutes and academies, too, run relevant courses.
A humanities background is good and science all the better, says illustrator Atanu Roy.
Typical day in the life of a Graphic Designer
- Meet with clients or the art director to determine the scope of a project
- Advise clients on strategies to reach a particular audience
- Determine the message the design should portray
- Create images that identify a product or convey a message
- Develop graphics for product illustrations, logos, and websites
- Select colors, images, text style, and layout
- Present the design to clients or the art director
- Incorporate changes recommended by the clients into the final design
- Review designs for errors before printing or publishing them
Pros & Cons about this career
• You get to be very creative • It's fun. • You get to share your ideas freely • You do what you're passionate about • You send out a message using graphics, which is sometimes easier than words • Your projects will be visual and they'll (hopefully) look good so you can see your accomplishments
• You have to be very good with working with lots of pressure and tons of deadlines • Relatively low pay • You have to be creative and original under pressure, ALL THE TIME • You have to be extremely good with details • You have to REALLY LOVE WHAT YOU'RE DOING and not get bored with it