Independent Design and Pants

samir
by
July 25th, 2011
in Design studio news
Vishal & Samir of Primordial Soop for Inquisitive Interviews

We’re great supporters of the curious and the inquisitive, so when Melvin of Inquisitive Minds contacted us about doing an interview about our work, we leapt at the idea … well OK, it was more of an enthusiastic crawl, but in our heads there was definitely some leaping involved.

A big thank you to Melvin Pereira for inviting us to do this. An excerpt of the interview is below and the link to read it in its entirety follows.


[Q] Tell Us something about yourself.

Vishal: I’m Vishal Bharadwaj, but not that famous guy who makes those movies. I’ve been working since 2003 when I finally wrenched myself away from the clutches of Academia with most of my vital organs intact.

Samir: I’m Samir Bharadwaj, and I’m Vishal Bharadawaj’s brother. No, not the famous guy, the lesser known Academia wrestler. It’s sometimes difficult to make the distinction between when I wasn’t working and when I was, but I’d say since 1998 or so in various freelance capacities.

[Q] What do you Do for a living and Where?

Vishal: I’m a graphic designer, mostly web & identity design, with a healthy side of illustration. I work from home, which means that, yes, I do not have to dress up and go to work. Pants, in fact, are optional.

Samir: Graphic Design is the official version of what I do, but it does vary from web design to more traditional print design, to illustration and even writing when the need arises. Generally, design covers all of it. I also wear pants, most of the time. I leave the well ventilated artistry to my esteemed colleague.

Read the rest of the interview over at Inquisitive Minds …

The Service Productization Process

samir
by
June 15th, 2011
in Design projects
Productization process - The construction of a pyramid

I’ve been pondering the creation of a website audit service product here at Primordial Soop recently. I’ve talked about why the need exists for such an audit service, and more recently I’ve explored the advantages of productization for both the client and us as a design studio. To design the service itself, however, is no small task.

A factory has little trouble creating its product with regularity and efficiency, but that is only because there was a lot of effort put into the design of the factory and its workings before the first coffee cup, or whatever else, came out of it. This process of setting up the system, part service design, part product design, must be thorough and organised so that the best and most appropriate choices are made as the particulars of the new productized service begin to take shape. This is an exploration of the step-by-step process needed to design the process of a service product, with specific examples for our own website audit service to-be.
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Productization and Its Advantages

samir
by
June 1st, 2011
in Design projects
Productization - Primordial Soop in a box

I find productization to be a fascinating term. It’s one of those so bad it’s good scenarios; So forced, so contrived, and so stinking of business jargon is the term Productization that it is perfectly appropriate for what it stands for. Productization is commonly described as the changing and tweaking of something, either tangible or intangible, to prepare it for being a commercial product. It’s the process of taking an idea, a concept, a method and moulding it into a packaged product. So the term is perfect, because it is in itself an example of productization in an abstract way.

While you could use productization to signify the preparatory, pre-production phase of regular physical products, I think it makes the most sense in the commercialisation of services, and more specifically, in packaging and making finite (finitization?) a normally open-ended service, such as design. I have been pondering this subject in relation to my recent thoughts on creating a service product offering from Primordial Soop for the analysis of websites and their optimisation. To really narrow down what this new product should be and should do, I set out to scribble down why productizing such a service is a good idea, for us, for clients, and in what ways it will make our lives better or easier. I was thinking about this specific example, but these ideas should hold true for any similar productization initiative.

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Website Optimisation Service Musings

samir
by
May 23rd, 2011
in Design projects
Optimization - woman stretching and exercising

Back when the internet was still new and not taken for granted, I got into web design because it was fascinating. One day, someone came along and asked me if I knew how to make one of those “web site things”, and being the adventurous liar that I was, I said yes. Well it wasn’t a complete lie, more like a stretch. I knew what a website was, how it worked, the idea behind HTML, and how things fitted together to create a website, but I’d never made one. Two months after I mildly twisted the truth about my internet knowledge, I did know, and my first website had been made.

Such stories are dramatic and invariably gloss over the effort it takes to collect all the knowledge and understanding about things and apply it to practical solutions, ever learning the limits of your understanding and stretching them. But if you’re interested, stretch them you do and your understanding soon becomes expertise, and it cannot be contained in a list of attributes and capabilities any more. That’s the sort of understanding any good designer should maintain in their field.

This knowledge and understanding grows into a design intuition in time, where things are measured, studied and looked at in easily understandable discrete steps that anyone could repeat, but the picture that emerges and the analyses and conclusions that are arrived at become more and more removed from any repeatable formula. Such is the gift of experience. The burden of experience is that you become enamoured with handling large projects that truly test your understanding and challenge you to reinvent, create from nothing, and innovate. With that change in outlook, you sometimes lose touch with the mechanics of your craft, and sometimes you lose touch with the people who could use your expertise but simply cannot have you re-inventing things with too much of a fervour, not to mention too much of a cost to them.
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What are Affordable Web Design Services?

samir
by
May 3rd, 2011
in Design thinking
A pteranodon vs a tyrannosaurus wearing angel wings

“I can get this cheaper at [insert name of company that’s supposed to impress me]!”

Costing is always an important issue for any sort of service. In a service that’s part technical, part creative, part service and part product, such as web design, the pricing is even more contentious and fraught with doubt and second-guessing.

I have often been questioned about the validity of the cost of a website design project. More often I’ve been dismissed as not being serious, but the vague jabs at this undefined thing that many clients do not understand usually start much earlier. Quite early in meetings I do get asked in faux jest whether our prices are ‘reasonable’. It is a strange question, but not a reasonable one.
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Why Do You Need a Website?

samir
by
April 27th, 2011
in Design thinking

A question most web designers never get to ask their clients in any serious way, unless they are wearing a well-tailored suit, have a gaggle of assistants, an avant-garde post-modern office with bad excuses for art, and billings in the millions of dollars, is why they actually need a website. Even a straight and honest answer to why they want a website would suffice, but rarely is this question asked, even more rarely is it answered, and almost never is the answer satisfactory. This is a shame, because it is the most important question in web design.
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Creating a Dappled Light Effect in Vector Images

samir
by
April 19th, 2011
in Design case study

Illustrations from Indian mythology are a theme on my web-technologies and cms software blog, Content Deliverance. When looking for a supporting image for a food blogging post, I remembered the story of Shabari from the Ramayan. I wanted to show Shabari offering Ram fruit, but I also wanted to bring in the atmosphere of the lush forest-garden around the hermitage, where this meeting occurred. I needed to show the complexity of the Shabari character with a fairly simple vector illustration that would be displayed at blog sizes. The visual of dappled light coming through the canopy of leaves was attractive in my head, so I decided that was the way to bring the required seriousness to this image.

Vector art of Shabari from the Ramayana

Producing shadows is always a tricky prospect in digital art; Make it too mathematical and it looks like a trick, make it too organic or fuzzy and it looks like an artist’s fervour gone wrong. Studying how the leaf shadows were created on the figure of Shabari gives a good insight into the organised approach to creating vector illustration. I feel it was a crucial element in the image. I used Inkscape for this illustration, but the same ideas and techniques hold true in any vector graphics software.
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A Shading Technique For Pen and Ink Drawings

samir
by
April 8th, 2011
in Design case study

Over the past few years I have tried to get back into practice with drawing. One way I pushed myself was to sketch with a pen. The idea was to improve my courage at mark-making using the unforgiving pen, which I hope will seep into my skills with other mediums. In my recent series of fountain pen drawings, I stepped up my technique a notch to produce more well-rendered, finished drawings, so I thought I would share my thought process and shading technique for these particular pen and ink drawings.

Line art of a drawing of a man's back

I started with the line work, which can get tricky with a pen if you’re not fluent; Gone is the luxury of being tentative with your line and relying on an eraser to correct your follies. Here, every mark is permanent, and the challenge is in achieving that perfect balance between thoughtful care and unplanned bravado. After you’ve done enough such sketches, you get a feel for which lines to make and which to ignore. The idea is to have stronger solid line-work to demarcate the boundaries of the forms (the outline), while using more light gestural lines for the internal topography of the shapes. Only draw the bare minimum required to make shading the lights and darks clear. Too many contours will interfere with the hatching later; Too little will leave you rudderless when trying to indicate the third dimension.
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Ode to the Design Process

samir
by
April 3rd, 2011
in Design thinking

All’s well that ends well, the saying goes, and while this is a healthy attitude in life, it does lead to process blindness. Every activity of life or craft has a method hidden within the randomness. Understanding that method, that process, and studying it is a key to learning more about the craft. It also helps in figuring out how the end can be assured to be well, even if things go wrong along the way.

Nature study sketches of lotus flowers and birds for a patternDesign process and methodology is not as well-explored as anyone would like. The diligent designer tries to maintain a record of this process, and the intermediate steps that lead to a finished work, but such information is often lost in the growing need to organise and minimise in a busy life. The design student wishes more designers would share, so that they might gain an insight into the magic trick that is design. That ideal of clients who understands design, would like to see the method to a designer’s madness so as to evaluate their true competence and their thought process, which might or might not make them the perfect creative fit for a project.

These are vital reasons for the design process to be more commonly shared, and yet it happens rarely. Often it is because of one of these reasons:
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