If Passion Had A Face: Abhisek Mishra: ROOTS'19

If Passion Had A Face: Abhisek Mishra: ROOTS'19

Sayan Dey | Mar 11, 2019

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We design digital tools and, thereafter our tools shape our behaviors.

-words underscored by the voice of our fresh alumnus, a passionate self-taught designer Abhisek Mishra, who in his perspective,

hasn't yet found his extreme passion because there is nothing like that one passion. There are no limits to one's passion or love for work; we keep on discovering new things and learn them in the journey of life.

It was the first lecture on the topic 'Psychological Principles of Design' by him to get going with the schedule of ROOTS’19 that ended last week. Abhisek Mishra, is a 24-year-old designer coming from engineering background; an alumnus of NITR from the branch of Physics, who left his branch to pursue his passion and now he is an example of success. He is currently working as a digital product designer at Swiggy. Team MM got a chance to catch up with him for an interview session encrypted in the upcoming QnA format.

Monday Morning (MM): How is the layman view of the word 'Design' different from 'Psychological Principles of Design'? Are they two different fields or some way related to each another?

Abhisek Mishra (AM): There is this beautiful quote from Jared M. spool, a famous UX designer: "Design is the rendering of intent." In the end, all the stuff boil down to problem-solving. For an example on YouTube, you have to pace up the buffer speed faster than the video-playing speed, solution of which will come from an engineer. So, in this scenario engineering is design. The core of the design is essentially the craft-part, that signifies the intent.

If you write ‘Don't enter’ on the door of your house in a beautiful calligraphic font, people would mistake it as a cafe and would be attracted to enter. Rather, had you written it in a bloodhound font, it would have looked bad but served the purpose, and thus it would be a good design.

MM: With what intentions did you get into the NITRKL in the year 2012? What was the initial aim fixed in your mind?

AM: During my higher secondary studies, I was pretty much fascinated by mechanics, but I didn't get Mechanical or Electrical, both of which I had interest in. So, the closest to my interest was Physics and I got into that. But it was not up to my expectation. It was more of a theoretical approach towards the subject; not much of hands-on experience was offered. And, at that time I was not determined whether to pursue design as my career.

MM: When did the interest for design start growing inside you?

AM: I used to draw and paint in my childhood. But in design, there isn't much about drawing. The actual trigger came during Nitrutsav in my first year. The conveners were selling the fest T-shirts door-to-door, and I told them on their face, "The design is bad." They asked me then why I don't make a design of the T-shirts myself. A trigger came in. I started learning photoshop and making posters. In Innovision’13, I worked as a creative head handling all the aspects of design. Then I got interested into 3D-modelling and started to design maps in counter-strike. I got my first smart-phone in my third year. I touched the google keyboard that vibrated like rubber on touching. I googled it and learned that it's a part of human-computer interaction. I searched human-computer interaction and found a link to Coursera and where I took this online course on the same. That's where my journey as a UX designer started.

MM: When did you actually thought of design as a career to the extent that you left your branch and joined a company later?

AM: I was pretty much determined to pursue design as my career and particularly in graphic design. Then I did an internship at a graphic design studio in Mumbai, but I didn’t like it because of the way they deal with clients. Yet, I was pretty much sure to stay within design.

MM: How did you balance between your academics and your passion for design at that time?

AM: The first three years of B.Sc. were manageable. I used to start studying two or three weeks before the exam. But honestly, M.Sc. takes a lot of time because of the vastness of the syllabus. So, I had to take a decision. I chose design, and I stopped attending classes. It was a leap of faith and fortunately, it went well.

MM: How did you take such a big decision of leaving the academics for your passion? What were the exact feelings and thoughts going on in your mind?

AM: I asked myself what was the worst that could have happened. I would have ended up in a studio because I already got a job offer in that studio in Mumbai, I did my internship at. If I would work hard in that studio and improve, I might get better offers. Yes, the process would be slow but still better than being with something you are not interested in for two years.

“You need to ask this to yourself that if you don't do it now would you regret it later. If yes, do it. But if you aren't sure, don't.”

MM: How different is it to be a self-taught designer and learning things in a traditional way from a design school?

AM: I don't have a clear idea of a design school because I haven't been to one. I am a guy from an engineering background. Yes, I have explored a lot of other things. But when it comes to fundamentals, my colleagues from design schools at my workplace tend to do it better. But again, in the end, it doesn't matter because you eventually learn it.

MM: How was it coming back to NITR after two years?

AM: It was nostalgic. In Roots 1, I had gone to pick up one of our guests and it was weird and uncomfortable (gives a humorous grin) when three people came to pick me up this time. Yes, it was a nice experience as far as the lecture

session is concerned. I liked working on the lecture, preparing the slides. But maybe I will hate it three months later from now. Because that would be the sign that you are actually improving. I remember I gave a talk in Bangalore and now I hate as I look back to the slides.

MM: How has been the hospitality so far?

AM: It has been amazing. I feel weird. I want to be treated as a friend, not as a guest. But I don't mind the guest house though (grins).

MM: Walk us through the internships you did on design.

AM: I did an internship on illustrations in IIT Guwahati. I wanted to learn illustration but didn't have that motivation. This internship gave me the push, and I learned a lot. The other one was in the studio in Mumbai, where I decided not to go with graphics design as I mentioned earlier.

MM: How did you get the offer from Swiggy? How has the experience been so far?

AM: I was cold mailing everybody through Linkedin. I was mailing my portfolio to the designers and working on the feedback I was receiving. Then in Roots 1, I met Saptarshi Prakash, a designer in Zeta India. I showed him my portfolio. I asked whether there was any job available. He said that they were not hiring at that time. Later, I got a call from the Directi, and I would be thankful to Saptarshi for introducing me to Directi. I passed the interview. Zeta was a great learning experience. They work on employee-tax benefits. One year after this, I got a call from the Talent Acquisition team, Swiggy, as they were hiring designers. I wanted to work in a business to consumer mode. I passed the interview and happy (smiles). It's been immense learning so far. A big thanks to Srinath Rangamani, the VP of design! Every day we reach office early in the morning, and he gives me nuggets on consumer behavior, business policies and many other stuff. So, learning a lot of things every day because the bar of excellence is too high.

MM: Is there anything else on the cards other than design?

AM: I used to borrow DSLR from my friends and picked random photos. I like storytelling. I also like music, not much deep into it. So, for now, serious about design only.

MM: You joined NITR in Physics and it was certainly not up to your expectation. So, what did you actually get from NIT? Was it worth coming here at all?

AM: The community is amazing here. When you take that big leap of faith, you need people to back you up emotionally and motivate you. I was here in the college for my five years. I didn't leave it just after my three years. That was absolutely because of the community. We started Design Tab where people looked up to me and so I needed to do something good, lest the initial assumption that there is no scope in design couldn't be changed. The idea behind forming that club was to make a habit of creating things, not necessarily something out of the box, but to be productive. I had friends, especially Debdutta and Alisha, who supported me a lot. I am thankful to these two professors, Arjun Mukherjee and Dhananjay Singh Bisht who were there with me reviewing my portfolio and giving feedbacks.

MM: Do you ever regret your choice of joining NITR but not a design school?

AM: I never regret. Back then I did not know whether I was interested in design. And NIT gave me the community that helped me a lot in my journey. Never regret; if you fail, you learn.

MM: Finally, what will be your message to the newbies whose passion are in some way strangled by the academic and the real-world constraints?

AM: The best thing that has happened to the world is internet. You can learn whatever you want from the internet. Ask yourself what is stopping you. If you are lacking time, stop watching the movies, utilize the weekends than sleeping the whole day out. It all depends on working hard and staying committed. It will eventually pay off.

All the best Abhisek from the team MM! We wish you keep on discovering new passions and spreading the light of your findings and ideas through such more lectures.

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