Design Dialogue with Pranita Kocharekar

PWI speaks to the Mumbai-based designer, artist, illustrator, and typographer Pranita Kocharekar about her journey so far

27 Feb 2019 | By PrintWeek India

Not too many people dream of being an entrepreneur when they are six years old. Well, Mumbai-based artist Pranita Kocharekar did just that. Having been completely surrounded by art since her childhood, creating new things and wanting to share them with the world came very naturally to her. She eventually graduated from Rachana Sansad College of Applied Arts in Mumbai with a degree in Graphic Design and Type Design. Kocharekar is also a self-taught illustrator and letterer and runs her own merchandise shop. She has collaborated with various brands like Vodafone, Chegg, Oreo, Quikr, Adidas, Netflix, Nivea, Dell, and Lenovo. 

For this Design Dialogue’, we speak to Kocharekar about her design journey and some of the projects she did in 2018. Edited excerpts: 

Could you tell us a bit about your design background?

Ever since I was a kid, my parents, who are also artists, encouraged me to use crayons anywhere I pleased as a form of communication. I would often draw my feelings or narrate incidents on the walls of our house. Ever since then, I could express myself better using visuals than words. I always knew I would pursue some form of art. 

While I was studying design in college, I took the opportunity to understand alphabets better. Alphabets are also shapes and knowing how to create my own personal style using these shapes was very interesting. Studying type design involved a lot of daily practice – drawing letter forms on paper was something I did with my morning tea. 

After college, I decided to continue my practice without having any boundaries. I began journaling my feelings, just like I used to as a kid, in the form of daily drawings. To ensure consistent practice, I would upload one drawing a day on Instagram (a new visual diary back then). That project, #pranitasdrawingaday, is still ongoing. Overtime, I fell in love with stylising my thoughts into illustrations. 

How was your experience at Rachana Sansad College of Applied Arts?

A very special part of my design journey was my type design teacher, Manasi Keni, who always made all our assignments a lot of fun and yet we learnt so much. I believe it is important to learn from the right people, and I'm grateful to have someone like her who I could align with and who understood my aesthetics well enough to know how to mould and shape me. 

What are some of the biggest challenges and advantages of working independently?
Being able to work in solitude is one of my biggest advantages. I also enjoy being responsible about my time and schedule - as much as I believe in being disciplined with my work ethics, it is great to schedule some time off as and when I need to. One of the biggest challenges while working independently is managing client servicing and creative work at the same time.

You create a lot of merchandise like notebooks, calendars, postcards, stickers etc. for your own shop. What inspired you to start the shop, and has the printing/production part of the physical products been challenging for you in any way? 

I wanted to be an entrepreneur since the age of six. Along with a friend, I drew handmade cards for all occasions and set up a pop-up shop. Carrying forward this childhood dream, I began creating products with immense love and care with the intent to reach an audience beyond my neighbourhood. 

The products are fun and humorous but most importantly, they spark emotion and are designed for everyone. Running a shop is definitely a lot of fun - right from thinking of an idea to executing it to finding the correct vendors to work with and then having the final product in my hands. The printing/production part of the the products has been a massive learning curve, and I'm excited to learn and produce more along the way.

What have been some of the most exciting projects (both brand collaborations and personal projects) you worked on last year?

‘Shut Up & Stop Stereotyping’ (2018), a physical calendar, is a project I’m very proud of. There has been a rise in feminists all around the world - about time! The lack of equality in our society creates many small and major problems. I feel that the best way to address any problem is education, and that starts through conversations and increase in interest. I want existing feminists to be able to create conversations with their friends, families and colleagues with the help of this calendar. Being aware of existing stereotyping habits may lead to a reduction in such behaviour which automatically helps to create a sounder society. This project was also one of my first few attempts at creative writing.

‘12 Months, 12 Goals’ (2017) is yet another project which is more like a design solution to a popular problem – procrastination and the lack of a work-life balance. Personally, I always craved to attain a good work-life balance and in order to do so, I needed to build discipline. I began picking small tasks like making my bed the minute I wake up, reading a book for 15 minutes every morning, etc. as tasks to accomplish which would generate a sense of discipline. This worked like a charm which then helped me deal with my biggest demon - eating healthy! I wanted to share this process with my followers which is what gave birth to this calendar. It helps you deal with small achievements during the first half of the year, helps you be a mentally and physically healthier version of yourself, and then tackles your biggest demon by September.

I have thoroughly enjoyed working on most of the brand collaborations as well. Working in advertising is challenging because everybody's work ethics differ. Although over the years, this experience only keeps getting better. One of my favourite experiences was with Digitas Lbi Mumbai. The client servicing there approached me for a project well in advance, respected my work hours, and ensured that the feedback only led to growth. I enjoy working with different people from the industry, especially those who are disciplined and polite. I have also enjoyed creating food typography and exploring food art and styling.

Your project 'Acknowledge Anxiety' has received a lot of acclaims. Could you tell us a bit about how it all started? Also, art/design, over the last few years, have worked wonderfully to de-stigmatise a lot of notions about mental health. In this large scheme of things, what do you think your project was able to achieve? 

Acknowledge Anxiety (2016) is a project very close to me. After speaking to a few friends, I realised that there are many people who suffer from minor and major anxiety issues.

I also realised that there are simple solutions to minor anxiety such as keeping a track of incidents when one feels anxious, meditation and breathing techniques, etc. 

I knew that stating these facts alone will not be enough to spread awareness though, so I began gathering details of incidents that my friends and I acknowledged and illustrated them. I initially wanted to execute these in print, but the web reaches out to people on a larger scale, and therefore I chose Instagram as my platform. I especially wanted to reach out to those who feel helpless in times when they experience anxiety. I wanted to let the world know that they can acknowledge their anxieties and reach out for help. I made sure that the illustrations are light-hearted, so people feel calm and approach their illness in a relaxed state of mind. 

The project did very well and helped spread awareness amongst those who needed it. I'm constantly trying to talk more about mental health and self-care (as in self-growth) on my channel. I am planning a few products in 2019 that will hopefully help many others along the way.

Since this is our first interview of 2019, we wanted to ask you what are some of your work plans and expectations this year?

2019 looks like a promising year. I’m hoping to upgrade myself as an artist and as a human being. I also wish to introduce new designs and products on my store and create more quality driven rich content. 

Payal Khandelwal is an independent journalist and editor of The Floating Magazine (