My 10 quick years in Design

My 10 years in design feels like 10 months. If you’re joyfully exploring something, time just whizzes by isn’t it? But what kept me ON is neither the career nor the pixels. On a deeper reflection, I realised there are 5 significant aspects that have contributed to keeping me charged until now.

  • Plenty of exploration in childhood
  • Exercising choice-making early on
  • Following my intuition and flow
  • Being hands-on and full-on
  • Freedom to design my life

Let me expand each a little more, you might want to grab a few cups of coffees for this, if not more. 🙂

Plenty of exploration in childhood

My career didn’t really start 10 years ago as most of my family and friends see it. Like all kids, I was also exposed to both arts and sciences in school. Unlike many, I had interest in both. I was constantly switching between the two.

I loved dance, music, languages and literature at one end and I loved chemistry, electronics and evolutionary biology on the other. By the time I was out of high school, I was exploring both computer hardware and software while continuing to draw.

Shortly after that, it was time to choose a degree and I couldn’t choose between arts and sciences.
Going by both my interest and popular choice of the time, electronics as an option fascinated me.

And arts has always been a great backdrop to whatever I did. So I chose electronics, imagining that I’ll explore a great deal into the subject. My dream is to invent or contribute to something significant before I die.

Exercising choice-making early on

My engineering degree started really well. I loved the labs, people, travel and literally everything but books. Nowhere I saw the material, mood and magic thatI experienced in reading books all through my childhood. There was a big shift in how books are written for subjects. They just didn’t enthral me.

And as much as I loved practicals, I did not like the theory exams. There was a big shift in how they tested my knowledge of knowing something. Two years went by and my confusion only increased. With much difficulty, I realised the game of “education” and consequences of the choices I made.

Instinctively, I should’ve dropped out but I wanted to make better choice this time. The 3rd and 4th years of engineering loomed in, and I learnt to stay afloat by barely passing the exams but flaring in labs. I took a project in autonomous solar- powered mini rover for final semester and that secured me the degree certificate.

This was the time, I discovered the power of internet. For the first time, I went beyond being an introvert into the virtual world. I named myself Arjun Phlox and went all-in. I made friends in Facebook and Orkut. I explored fascinating subjects to my hearts content on web and showcased some of my work.

Following my intuition and flow

I spent much of my childhood in both village and city. This experience showed me deeper dimensions of life and kept my innate understanding of things intact. So it didn’t matter to me what the external world thought of me or did. My parents were worried about me landing a job. My friends empathised but didn’t know what I was into.

Among the many external pressures, the only pressure that got to me was ticking clock. I was almost 20 by the time and didn’t make anything significant yet. I was sure that I'm neither leaving arts nor science. My intution did not allow me to. So I locked myself up for an year to research, network and see a field I can enjoy both in. I found robotics and graphic design as close options I can immediately get into.

As a first step, I applied to some universities abroad. I also thought I will intern in a few comoanies that made sense to me. I gave my best to some exams but eventually knew they all succumbed to the same game. So I started doing some side gigs with calligraphy, writing and graphics. I connected with many artists and tinkerers online. That’s when I got my first invite to join a company as graphics & communication designer.

Being hands-on and full-on

A number of validations happened post this period about the choices I made, the interests I have and the inner compass I followed intuitively. I met my better half through these social networks. I never thought I'd have space in my heart for another human, apart from the subjects I loved, but life had its surprises and I was all ears.

While the experience was good overall, I was yearning for something larger through my work. I poured myself into what’s at hand but the world didn’t really want that. And so another game I discovered —the business game. So I quit my job and started freelancing again. It went well, however freelancing is tough in a city like Hyderabad.

My search was ON. I was obsessively looking for something much more meaningful and signficant. I deeply felt I must have someone to guide me.

Like a wish come true, I happened to see a person talk about printers and their design at one of the Pecha Kucha talks in the city. With great effort, I got to meet her and showed her every silly bit I did in arts and sciences, including my music compositions done for my better-half.

Freedom to design my life

Little did I know a single person can have such a huge impact on my life. My thirst for knowing, doing and being, all guided in one place. I understood the breadth and depth of design, life and being human as much as I could, through her life stories, design projects and my explorations.

While this deserves more posts of their own to do justice, the most significant aspect I realised is —one can design their own life.

It's possible with necessary awareness (for choice-making), perception (for envisioning) and intelligence (to tread the path and trust life). It is the ultimate expression of design. The API as I call it fondly.

It was toughest of the journeys, it tested everything I knew about me, subjects and the world. But then one choice after the other, I was resolute in making them and accepted the consequences that came, with all my heart. I still do. I’m designing my life!

What's next?

As I stand here today and look at the next decade, there are quite different aspects and choices that lay before me. One significant choice is already made — building Xperian. Many more to come!

I hope this gave you a peek and an insight into the roots of my design career. Let’s talk about the tree, fruits and branches soon including subjects like typography, interface design, color, tools and more. This post is just to say my story to you and say hello👋🙂.

My 10 years in design feels like 10 months. If you’re joyfully exploring something, time just whizzes by isn’t it? But what kept me ON is neither the career nor the pixels. On a deeper reflection, I realised there are 5 significant aspects that have contributed to keeping me charged until now.

  • Plenty of exploration in childhood
  • Exercising choice-making early on
  • Following my intuition and flow
  • Being hands-on and full-on
  • Freedom to design my life

Let me expand each a little more, you might want to grab a few cups of coffees for this, if not more. 🙂

Plenty of exploration in childhood

My career didn’t really start 10 years ago as most of my family and friends see it. Like all kids, I was also exposed to both arts and sciences in school. Unlike many, I had interest in both. I was constantly switching between the two.

I loved dance, music, languages and literature at one end and I loved chemistry, electronics and evolutionary biology on the other. By the time I was out of high school, I was exploring both computer hardware and software while continuing to draw.

Shortly after that, it was time to choose a degree and I couldn’t choose between arts and sciences.
Going by both my interest and popular choice of the time, electronics as an option fascinated me.

And arts has always been a great backdrop to whatever I did. So I chose electronics, imagining that I’ll explore a great deal into the subject. My dream is to invent or contribute to something significant before I die.

Exercising choice-making early on

My engineering degree started really well. I loved the labs, people, travel and literally everything but books. Nowhere I saw the material, mood and magic thatI experienced in reading books all through my childhood. There was a big shift in how books are written for subjects. They just didn’t enthral me.

And as much as I loved practicals, I did not like the theory exams. There was a big shift in how they tested my knowledge of knowing something. Two years went by and my confusion only increased. With much difficulty, I realised the game of “education” and consequences of the choices I made.

Instinctively, I should’ve dropped out but I wanted to make better choice this time. The 3rd and 4th years of engineering loomed in, and I learnt to stay afloat by barely passing the exams but flaring in labs. I took a project in autonomous solar- powered mini rover for final semester and that secured me the degree certificate.

This was the time, I discovered the power of internet. For the first time, I went beyond being an introvert into the virtual world. I named myself Arjun Phlox and went all-in. I made friends in Facebook and Orkut. I explored fascinating subjects to my hearts content on web and showcased some of my work.

Following my intuition and flow

I spent much of my childhood in both village and city. This experience showed me deeper dimensions of life and kept my innate understanding of things intact. So it didn’t matter to me what the external world thought of me or did. My parents were worried about me landing a job. My friends empathised but didn’t know what I was into.

Among the many external pressures, the only pressure that got to me was ticking clock. I was almost 20 by the time and didn’t make anything significant yet. I was sure that I'm neither leaving arts nor science. My intution did not allow me to. So I locked myself up for an year to research, network and see a field I can enjoy both in. I found robotics and graphic design as close options I can immediately get into.

As a first step, I applied to some universities abroad. I also thought I will intern in a few comoanies that made sense to me. I gave my best to some exams but eventually knew they all succumbed to the same game. So I started doing some side gigs with calligraphy, writing and graphics. I connected with many artists and tinkerers online. That’s when I got my first invite to join a company as graphics & communication designer.