Dexter – Reel vs Real

May 11, 2011 § Leave a comment


My new addiction and fascination into the world of blood spatter and controversies. ‘Sinner’ or ‘Savior’ as the ads seem to debate. Well no here I am not going to talk about that as I have already bored the hell out of many people regarding this. This includes compulsive watching of the serial every night at 10. A strict ‘Do Not Disturb’ for everyone inclusive of phone calls. So when I said addiction I was actually not exaggerating.

Now here comes the interesting part. As we all know that the series has excessive content of blood bath and the main protagonist himself is a blood spatter expert. But the strange part is my interest in the serial. Myself is a character who faints at the mere sight of blood. My friends keep me away from hospitals as I have invariably ended up occupying one empty bed. In that case to have a fascination for such bloody feast every night is quite nerve cracking.

Honestly it makes one wonder the complexities of the human mind. Our likes in a virtual world can be quite a contrast in real life.


‘Kindle’ ing the small joys of life

May 1, 2011 § 5 Comments


Just yesterday I got my hands on the old volume of The Gitanjali – a masterpiece by Tagore. It was hidden amongst a pile of other books in an old shelf at my grandmothers. The discovery brought such joy that it left me thrilled for sometime staring at the old dusty copy. As I opened the book and started flipping through the pages with care in fear that the pages might crumble a lovely scent floated across. The whole experience then made me wonder. Are we becoming elusive to these little joys in the dot com era?

There are so much talks about the new technologies replacing books and newspapers. In fact the whole print media seems to be under speculation with the rising costs and ‘Go green’ factor. Paperback books has been held responsible for the depreciating forests. Agreed that all this is true but then reading a book on a Kindle (the amazing discovery by Amazon) can it ever equate the joy of holding an old copy of a masterpiece. Reading its content intoxicated by the rhythm of poetry and the musty smell of something that has refined by the years. We quote ‘Old is Gold’ in that case how can we measure the years of a virtual copy on the hand held devices to something that is real and tangible.

I am not against the new technology but just hurt how so many people are blinded by it. Searching a book by some easy click might be faster than hunting a book among piles of others but it definitely can never give us the joy of discovery. I think there are somethings which cannot be replaced and we should find a way of coexisting. I am sure an ardent book lover would always cherish his library but might equip himself also with a more modern device. It would be a shame if paperback books are scrapped out and we must learn to strike a balance rather than resorting to the Shift+Delete.

Old is Gold!

Metamorphosis II – Print Media to Web Media

April 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

UI design vs Graphic Design

Much has been talked and discussed about this transformation. My journey too faced some interesting challenge from my role as a graphic designer to user interface designer. At the initial phase especially within the boundaries of the institute we mostly concentrated on print media. Starting from the learning about different papers, printing processes and colour fixing techniques.

The main criteria was the size of the paper and how we presented the layout. Our main concern as a designer was how the colour was printed. This turned out to be a very tricky process and we still strive towards perfection.

Thus when I shifted to work for the web based company I thought the hassles of dealing with the print quality would not bother anymore. Finally I could apply the WYSWIG principle ‘What you see is what you get’. Little did I know that grass on the other side is never actually greener. In the web we were dealing with the intangible virtual world. Here there was no more inches and centimeter everything was measured in pixels and points.

The entire evolution in print industry moves in a much slower pace than compared to the web. In web probably every minute someone somewhere is recreating something path breaking. The initial phase was like a whirlwind romance where I moved with the wind in a completely love- hate relationship. Everyday my list of new words and terms kept growing, it still does. In simple terms it was a complete paradigm shift for me.

I came to terms with magnanimity of the two words which form basis of all – “User Interface” &  “User Experience“. I realized how it was not just layout of websites but creating an entire experience for the user. True in print we too created an experience but as some refer, it is a 2 dimensional experience. We can feel the paper, turn it and hold on to it.

Web on the other hand is 1 dimensional or can cross all barriers to be multi dimensional. The attention span of both media remained constant as it was user dependent. The difference lies on the fact that in print usually its more of selective vision as we guide the user to view things in a particular order through typography and design elements. Its similar in web but what we often overlook is the fact that the Web design functions by letting the hands move the information (by scrolling or clicking). Information relationships are expressed temporally as part of an interaction and user movement.

Our main goal is to make sure the user spends more time on the particular page and trick lies in the fact that they should not be aware of it. Coming to this topic another thing worth mentioning is the fact of keeping your page ‘light’. In print we never bothered what elements we put as long as it visually communicated and appealed. Aesthetics played high on our priorities. In web every small element has to be measured in terms of size and the time taken to load. Like they say size always matters!

In print the final output was a result of the pre press process similarly in web the design created by the visual designer is passed to the developer. Most times it would surprise you the constraints laid out to you based on the web browsers and technical glitches. But like I said the web is developing every minute and the more visual aesthetics come into play the more ways are created to bring the designs as close to the templates given for reference.

Print and web both are two sides of the coin which require clear and effective layout. In both there is use of elements of design (shapes, lines, colors, type, etc) to present content to your audience. So once I let go off my initial inhibitions and preconceived notions, I started enjoying it. We can never write something off judging by its cover. It only grows on you once you spend time with it.

Never judge a book by its cover!

Metamorphosis I – Design School to Design Firm

December 27, 2010 § Leave a comment

“Design is the method of putting form and content together. Design, just as art, has multiple definitions; there is no single definition. Design can be art. Design can be aesthetics. Design is so simple, that’s why it is so complicated.”  – Paul Rand

This quote sums up the entire picture so well. There is a constant evolution around us and design being an integral part is constantly changing. In that case how can we have few definite set of principles summing up the entire process. I think the design school of today faces this as its biggest challenge. Any other subject has its basic principles rock solid. A formula once derived and proved goes down in history and becomes the base of everything. Imagine what would happen without the e = mc². The problem is in design there can seldom be such magic formulas.

The institutions have a defined routine and process which introduces the students to the ‘then’ basic principles of design. But its only a matter of time before the same process might be termed as ‘old school thinking’. Like noted training for the war can only train you of the estimated activities and consequences but it can never prepare you to deal with the real time decisions. Similarly a practice match can never bring the thrill of the real tournament when the whole nations heart is beating with yours.

During college years the student only have to cater to their mentors and guides. In a firm they actually face the real clients and the whole concept of hypothetical projects becomes a fairytale. In that case the clients who are not design trained become the guides. The tricky part is to manoeuvre them along with keeping up the satisfaction of oneself in delivering the needful. To strike a balance sometimes becomes very difficult as what appeals to the client might be defying one’s own design sensibility. This is the most challenging part for a student once they come out of the shelter of the institution and have to present their ideas to the client, a ‘non designer’.

The ideal scenario is when you can blend your requirements into a visually appealing sensible art. This can be mastered only by experience as an idea which was highly praised by the design mentors in college might fall flat with the common public.  Getting mass approval from the target audience can only be learned with time and opportunity to perhaps fail a few times.

To sum it all up the challenges in design is what makes it most interesting. The fast paced profession brings a sense of adrenalin rush as you crack your brains for each challenge trying to outdo yourself each time.  Eventually its the only profession for which you get paid for all the doodles and scribbles you made during class hours. But probably you learn it best only once you are in the soup yourself. Design teaching in college just gives you the recipe. The quality of the dish depends on your culinary skills.

Happy Cooking!