Shaun D’Sa is a graphic designer by profession an artist at heart and my design mentor. Shaun’s forte is crafting identities, be it for a product, service or even a rockstar. He co founded Whoa Mama Design a decade ago. This boutique studio is a tight outfit of 15 talented individuals and he intends on keeping it small and personal. He believes that the constant search of experiences is what makes him want to create meaningful stories and functional design.
When did you first start illustrating / designing and know this was it?
My grandfather was inspirational with charcoal and pencil, that had to be where I first got interested in art. I loved the fancy pencils he used; that was the early 90’s, I was ten years old and got bit by the creative bug. I used to write random fantasy stories alongside a single page illustration. I was proud of it. I know from experience that encouragement is something that can help you open up creatively. The support of my parents and grandparents did that for me.
What are the challenges of being an creative director in india?
If it’s population explosion with a wild diversity, India must rank right on top.
I love the challenges of crafting provoking design for an audience that is so diverse.
I do believe that each case or client presents an opportunity to tell an interesting new story.
Challenges are many, and it becomes part and parcel of your lifestyle when its your own agency.
Most often, my clients need to be educated on simple things such as colour theory or the usage of a particular typeface. This is not London, Amsterdam or New York, you know… even fashion arrives a few years late!
Give us some insight into how to deal with client.
Give and take. It’s not always smooth sailing, with the world looking at pinterest and youtube, suddenly everyone has started to believe they have design knowledge. If a client is to be king, he needs to understand you are his Prime minister. I would never conceal my passion for what I believe in, the client needs to understand that the reason he hired me was for my honesty and integrity. As a designer, I need to create a bond with my client. In conversation, I would refer to his brand as “our brand”.
What do you feel is the key to building a brand?
Every logo needs a soul. Branding is quite an in-depth process, it’s not just how it visually appears but also how effectively the story is reaching the audience. Branding is a dance; and it takes two to tango.
Lets take for instance, The brand is a baby, I am the father or teacher who gives the baby a voice and identity, the client is the mother who will constantly support my vision and guidelines and nurture the baby to grow into a beautiful and meaningful brand.
How do you manage the balance between work and your own creative pursuits?
The most important role of a graphic designer is to constantly remind oneself that their role and purpose is problem solving and communication and not selling personal masterpieces.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I have always been inspired with the surreal, the master is Salvadore Dali. Yet design calls for a different set of gurus that you aspire to be like. David La Chapelle is one of those greats who inspires my sense of composition and art direction. The camera is your biggest storyteller and there are boundless possibilities in this digital age. Down to design I have a lot of heroes, I would combine the typography and maturity of demigod David Carson with the bold eccentrics of the amazing Stefan Sagemeister.
How do you get the ideas for your illustrations / designs?
My studio has everything I need to spike my senses. Within the walls of my studio lies a culture of art, craft, film, photography, gardening, music, screen printing, and people that give the design process a soul.
What is your favourite medium to work with?
My favourite medium is currently mud. Yes, mud. I design terrariums that are quite savage and that really makes me happy. Nature in a jar pretty much describes my entire studio. I need to have an outlet in between work; a constructive and rewarding break where I go knock one out and add to the jungle. But on a more serious note, my favourite medium has to be design for print.
Is there anything you are currently working on?
There is a few epic mentions that can’t be disclosed due to pre-release confidentiality. But it seems like we have been marketing a lot of vices recently. I’m crafting concepts that include branding and identity for 3 new bars, rebranding an old bar and meeting another client that wants to open another bar. Though I still haven’t seen the alcohol! A week ago we wrapped up a Royal Enfield themed bar in Bangalore that included environment art and installation.
What does your work flow look like?
My desktop is a mess and my phone has a lot of missed calls. Thankfully I have a fantastic wife.
When it’s down to design there is a lot of excitement and a strong thought process. It all spirals from understanding the problem and having a wholesome knowledge on the subject at hand. I love keeping it organic and usually get so caught up in “design time” that I forget that I still have to be a creative director for a bigger part of the day.
Time is precious and I don’t really look at a clock, and keeping track of dates seem to be the other elephant in the room. Did I mention my wife is awesome?! Thankfully the great inner circle at Whoa Mama Design and my business partner create the balance.
Is there any insight or words of advice you would like to give to help other in their creative journey?
It’s a crazy world out there, we need to create the niche to be noticed.
The most meaningful way to get there is to represent our local culture with a global sensibility. “Glocal” or global-local, is finally acceptable in India. Most of all create your own signature. Never wait for work that is going to give you this opportunity, get off the bud and create it for yourself.
The only enemy we have is the idle mind that enjoys staying stagnent, stir it up and do something you enjoy, work with your hands! Last but not least, the small details…Nature is godlike, it constantly talks to us. Listen.
Are there any illustrators / designs that you are a fan of that deserve some exposure?
This is a hard one, there is an overload of genius out there, Too many to mention. Recently discovered the art of “Marla Moon” a minimal- geometric tattoo artist. This is the first time I don’t want to design my own tattoo .