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CHANDAN CRASTA


I am Chandan Crasta, I’m 29 years old. I work for Penguin Books India as a graphic designer. New Delhi is where I live. I love what I do for a living and I really don’t consider designing a ‘job’ it’s good fun and I thank God I’m here and doing what I’m doing. I love to sketch and photograph. Two books I constantly visit are The Bible and The fountain head, I draw a lot from these. I have a dog and a son and a wife. Being around interesting and inspiring people is what I enjoy. Cooking is something I don’t do enough of, and I listen to U2, REM, Dave Matthews Band, America, and a lot of Folk rock.

It’s so great to get in touch with designers and illustrators who are miles away, cheers everyone!


When did you first decide to become a graphic designer/ illustrator? Was there a pivotal moment?

Back in 1997 in Commerce College I watched with fascination as my friend Anup Lobo (www.killeroctopus.com) transformed ordinary white paper with wondrous graphite lines. He could draw and how! This sparked off dormant talent that lay hidden for many years. I got back to pencil and paper again since school, but it didn’t come that easy. I wrestled with pencil and paper for hours, it finally hit me that if I have to get better I have to devote a lot of time to art and so I quit Commerce midway. How I ended up taking up taking Commerce still baffles me. I then enrolled myself for two years of basic art in a Govt. Art College.

Here I understood that no matter which institute you are in, learning is self taught. Faculty were hardly any inspiration, the only thing I learnt was how to sketch and to be persistent in it. We got no attendance if we didn’t have 25 sketches a day. This discipline got me a long way. At the end of two years, a sketchbook and pen were part of my attire. I love to draw and still carry my pad and pen wherever I go.

After two years I had to decide on what I will be majoring in, remaining for a few more years at the present institute would kill what little I had. At that time there was this new art institute called Srishti Institute of Art and Design (www.srishtiblr.org). After a visit to the place I decided to enroll myself for the four year Graphic Design Program. I had a vague idea what ‘graphic’ design was, but I was told that if I wanted to do illustration then I would get to do it in the GD Program.

The following four years were rigorous and great fun. We had the best faculty teaching us, who were mostly practicing professionals. We had courses on film, typography, illustration, art theory, photography, creative writing, a whole lot of graphic design courses and electives, where you could take a short course from another discipline. That’s how I got to furniture design and work on the lathe. Design education at Srishti really broke me, there were many times when I felt I was never meant to be a designer and wanted to quit, but somehow I was urged to try harder. Core emphasis was on clarity of thought, rigor and integrity. Srishti taught me to always look at Design and the World and go back and forth, and that Design is never isolated. At the end of four years I knew I was equipped to go out and learn some more.

In our course we were introduced to the many facets of graphic design; book design, illustration, signage, exhibition design, webpage design and poster design. Illustration was what appealed to me and I wanted a shot it. I freelanced with Macmillan when I got out, and then packed my bag and moved to where that action really is – New Delhi. I freelanced as an illustrator and graphic designer for two years, was very tough. Illustration projects were difficult to come by and don’t pay enough for the time and effort put in. I had turned down an offer for full time graphic designer for a magazine company. At this point I got a project to redesign contemporary French literature book covers. I thought the project was interesting and took it up. While doing this work I got hooked to working with type and image, going back to my love of children’s picture books. When I finished a good six French book covers, I read that Penguin Books was in need of a designer. I applied for the post and got it! Working for Penguin had been a dream and I’ve been here for a year now and it’s great and a lot of learning.


Who or what inspires you?

Life is a big inspiration. When I’m working I see so much of the world and how little I know. With Art and Design I am constantly in touch with the world and I’m curious to know, explore, experience and live. When I get a new cover to work on I read as much of the book as possible, get to know the author and try to enter his world.

Designer’s lives are also a big inspiration, Alan Fletcher, Paula Scher, Saul Bass, Philip Meggs, Paul Rand, James Victore and Pentagram, to name a few.


Where does your training come from? Self-taught? College/Art School?

I got my introduction to the world art and design from Srishti but that’s just basic education. My real learning is what I am doing here and now.


How do you keep "fresh" within your industry?
Design fads are something that I not aware of, at least I try not to see too much of it, lest it creeps into my work. To keep my work fresh and exciting I try to get to the ‘heart ‘ of the project and maintain a level of honesty. Design is all about finding solutions to a problem, previous solutions that other designers have got invariably come to mind when I’m working but I try to find my own solution. To do this I am very critical of my work and try to look at my work from a distance.

What are some of your current projects?
I am designing a series of three books by Shama Futehally. This is one of the interesting things I am working on. I am also working on Anita Nair’s book – ‘Satyr of the subway’. These covers are posted on my blog (www.crastascovers.blogspot.com) Go ahead have a look…


Which of your projects are you the most proud of? And why?

My first book cover is a project I am really proud of. This being my first cover I was trying to understand how to solve this particular design problem. The story is about this sculptor who abandons his craft and sets up an art gallery, and through the book he gets into many things all being attempts to find himself. So I drew a sketch of the protagonist sculpting himself. This book is by Jean Echnoz and it was being printed of the Indian market and so a new cover was needed. So there have been many other covers for this book. So I finally got to meet the author at the book launch and he said that of all the covers he liked the one I designed! So I framed the sketch and presented it to him.


Are there any areas, techniques, mediums, projects in your field that you have yet to try?
Oh yes, always. I see that I have a lot to learn and explore. Graphic design is so varied and this got me into photography and illustration. For the past year I have been doing mostly covers and now I am designing the layout and typography for a cook book, this will be the first book where I design the cover and the entire book. I am getting very interested with book design, I love the interaction between text and image and the narrative techniques involved, and a magazine would be great fun! Very shortly I hope to be producing a line of t-shirts, I have a few designs in mind. Apart for graphic design, I enjoy working with my hands and I did a short course on furniture design at Srishti but would like to pursue this more seriously sometime.


Any advice to the novice designer/ illustrator?
Design is all about life and communicating. So a curious mind coupled with a strong focus and a desire to improve your craft is what should get you someplace. Good knowledge about even the most mundane things go a long way in design, but we get a lot of useless info these days and so filtering the stuff is also necessary.


What makes a designed piece or illustration successful?
Clear, effective, and aesthetic communication, period.


What do you do to keep yourself motivated and avoid burn-out?
I try to read as much as I can and I look at every project that I design as an interesting one. I have seen my fellow designers sigh when a particular assignment comes in, the subject matter might seem disinteresting but I think every project has good design potential. I also juggle with sketching, photography, traveling… to keep my mind alive and creative.

Almost forgot, sketching is very important. This simple pleasure is being lost, and wielding that pencil well will get you a long way.

And finally, what is the best thing on prime-time TV right now?
Sorry I don’t watch TV, don’t have one and don’t intend on buying one. But I watch at least a movie a week, but no TV.

Related Links:

www.crastascovers.blogspot.com

Recent Work:







2 comments:

Crasta Family Genealogy said...

See if you have connections to discover at the Crasta Family Genealogy Blog

choper nawers said...

CHAD i think your work its pretty cool and clean..ima graphic designer my self.

kkep up the good work.

if you want to check out my blog.

www.ismenews.blogspot.com
www.isme53.com

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