Design As A Subject And Career Choice Through The Eyes Of A Visual Designer - Eastern Mirror
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Design as a subject and career choice through the eyes of a visual designer

By Moakala T Aier Updated: Oct 25, 2023 12:16 am
Sanchita Mukherjee
Sanchita Mukherjee, a visual designer at Zomato.

DIMAPUR — Design wasn’t something new to visual designer, Sanchita Mukherjee, as she always had a passion for sketching and painting since her school days. However, she didn’t see it as a career path until the 11th grade when she started showing interest in it, thanks to a friend who introduced her to the field.

The 22-year-old, who works with Zomato at the firm’s Gurugram headquarters in Haryana, said that anyone, regardless of their academic background, can enter the field as long as they approach it with an open and curious mind.

In an exclusive interview with Eastern Mirror, Mukherjee, who also loves cooking and swimming – skills she recently acquired after watching a YouTube video – shares her insights on pursuing design education at educational institutions, including the National Institute of Design (NID), procedures, and more.

How can one secure admission to the National Institute of Design (NID), and who is an ideal candidate for these courses?

Well, NID has a simple and straightforward admission process. All you have to do is fill out the registration form and take the DAT (Design Aptitude Test) prelims exam. It consists of Part A: MCQs on logical reasoning, creative thinking, and verbal communication, and Part B: drawing.

As we grow older, we tend to believe that not all of us are creative, which I strongly feel is untrue, and so does NID. To answer your question, there are no ideal candidates for these courses. All you need is curiosity and the ability to solve real-life problems.

What steps or preparations are necessary to gain admission to NID?

Even though there is no one way to approach the design entrance, one can prepare by solving previous years’ question papers and practising live sketching. This will help in solving the actual entrance test much faster. Also, start learning about design and find designers whose work you find inspiring!

National Institute of Design Ahmedabad
National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad.

How does the importance and relevance of a course at NID compare to self-taught graphic designers in today’s industry?

The structure of NID’s curriculum inherently prepares its students for the job market. The courses are designed to prepare students for industry placements, which is further facilitated by the examination-free learning environment. Instead, we have live juries that provide feedback on our work. This practical approach allows us to adapt easily to the current industry landscape.

Our education focuses on hands-on experience, and we don’t rely on traditional textbooks or a strict syllabus. Our knowledge is primarily derived from our practical experiences, making these courses a crucial factor in shaping us into industry-ready professionals.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of a corporate job compared to a freelance career in the design field?

I really love this question because I have experience as both a freelancer and now in a full-time job. When you are a freelancer, you enjoy a high degree of flexibility. You can select projects that truly interest you and, equally important, decline those that don’t align with your preferences.

On the other hand, a corporate job provides a sense of stability, particularly in financial matters, which I consider crucial. Financial stability matters and corporate employment offers that.

Moreover, if you are working in a pleasant environment and with work that resonates with you, you will likely find enjoyment in a corporate job. However, corporate roles can become monotonous after a while, although this varies from place to place.

Could you provide insight into your journey from graduating NID to securing a role at Zomato?

The previous year marked the beginning of my graduation project. During that time, I was collaborating with Penguin Random House, a publishing house.

As my graduation journey neared its end, I found myself at a crossroads, contemplating opportunities. I wasn’t too sure whether I wanted to pursue a full-time job or stick with freelancing, which offers a great deal of creative freedom. I had a clear list of companies where I envisioned myself working, and Zomato was one of those choices.

I had applied to Zomato previously, but it did not work out. However, this time, everything fell into place rapidly, and I was presented with an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. That’s how it all unfolded. I kept working on my portfolio and refining my skills. I sat down with a list of things I wanted to do and curated a portfolio out of it, which also helped me secure a role at Zomato.

Zomato visual ad
An illustration for Zomato created by Mukherjee.

What are the essential components for creating a successful graphic design portfolio, and could you share some strategies you use?

The most important advice I can give to anyone working on their portfolio is to stay true to yourself and your art. Many portfolios feature similar work, lacking an authentic touch. In the industry, people value individuals who have their unique style, know their career goals, and are genuinely passionate about their work and the industry they’re joining.

When building your portfolio, it is vital to be authentic. If you are unsure about where to begin and don’t have real-life projects to showcase, don’t worry too much. You can create your own brands and ideas and present them in your portfolio. Share what you have created, explain your thought process, and if it aligns with the company or industry, you have a good chance of getting the job.

What does a typical day look like for you as a designer at Zomato? What kind of projects and responsibilities do you handle?

No two days look the same at Zomato. I usually start by focusing on my daily tasks and what I need to accomplish. Zomato allows me the freedom to experiment with my work and explore the things I am interested in.

I am in Zomato Marketing, which means I mainly deal with projects related to advertising, branding, billboards, posters, and similar tasks. However, I am also involved in app-related work, where I create flows and banners for the Zomato app.

What software and tools do you regularly use in your design work, and how did you become proficient in them?

I work with Adobe Suite, which includes Illustrator and Photoshop. Nowadays, we are using Figma a lot at Zomato because many people here use it, and I am learning how to use it too. In addition, I use After Effects and Premiere Pro.

Becoming proficient with these tools does not have a single approach. YouTube videos, like those from creators like Ben Marriott and Daniel Scott, can be quite helpful. However, my own way of learning was by doing – by working on more and more projects. So, I believe hands-on experience is a great way to learn.

How can one navigate one’s career as a graphic designer in a place like Nagaland, where there are limited opportunities for internships and no presence of major companies?

One thing I truly value about graphic designers is that you honestly just need a vision. People from diverse backgrounds can excel in graphic design. Even in places with limited opportunities and few companies, you can build a strong portfolio and use social media effectively.

I come from a Tier II city, and of course, Ahmedabad is known for design, but back then, when I was practising and learning more about design, I did not have a lot of opportunities. So, having a good social media presence actually helped me get more clients.

Building a strong online presence through platforms like LinkedIn and Behance, along with showcasing your work, can help you attract clients and connect with a wider audience. There are many creative designers from the Northeast as well.

You should definitely check out Studio Zeng. They have their own in-house studios and David Sonyabem, a friend of mine from Manipur, who is a really cool animator and illustrator.

Sanchita's Projects
Some of Mukherjee’s works.

How do you maintain your creativity when working within a structured environment that often requires adherence to brand guidelines?

I am still trying to figure out this path where I learn how to work within a structured environment. However, a few things that definitely work for me are – taking breaks, working on creative projects, and learning what other creatives are doing on Instagram and other platforms like Behance and Dribbble. I want to keep doing what I love and stay true to myself by posting my work on Instagram alongside my regular job.


Inspiration hour

Midnight. I am awake when the world is sleeping.

A close-to-heart project

‘The Non-Serious Guide to Bengali Food.’ It was a fun quick project but very dear to me because it allowed me to go back to my roots.

If your love for music and designing book covers had a secret recipe, what would be the main ingredients?

Love. I tend to pour my heart and soul into my work. And if I don’t love it, I cannot deliver what is expected of me. The same goes for music too. I can listen to one song on repeat for days if I love it.

By Moakala T Aier Updated: Oct 25, 2023 12:16:56 am
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