ON PERSONAL BRANDING:
The man, the brand. As many freelancers know, you're not just an individual creating work for businesses, you are a business. And business have brands, which means you must too. WNW Member #3041 Karan Singh not only created a personal brand, he even did a rebrand. To combat the inevitable identity crisis, Karan went beyond the avatar, creating an interactive experience on his personal site to reflect the multi-facets of himself (or at least that of his online persona.) Karan admits that reducing himself to an icon or mark made him nervous; however, "It made me a lot more calculated and focused on the kind of work I make and share, which is effectively the work which I'd like to be commissioned to do."
Hi! Tell us about yourself: who you are, what you're working on and what you are currently loving:
I'm an illustrator/artist from Sydney, Australia, living and mainly eating pizza in New York. I just finished a couple of patterns for an exciting new fashion label, I recently released a personal screen print and I'm working towards an exhibition in June.
I'm a little late to it but I've just binge watched 'Black Mirror' on Netflix. It's a fascinating social commentary on the role of technology in our lives and how much we depend upon it or rather, are addicted it. It's definitely left me feeling a little self-conscious about how much I rely on my devices, especially my phone.
Let's talk about personal branding. Why does an individual need a brand in the first place?
The creative industry is big and competitive which means there's a huge emphasis not only on creating good work but being able to stand out with it. Branding transcends a logo and a regularly used typeface; for me as a one man team, it's also effectively my persona or at the very least, the aspects of my persona I feel comfortable sharing publicly. I believe it's about acknowledging your own interests, strengths and ambitions and ensuring they're reflected in your work.
Does having a brand help you get work?
l think with the above considered, it's probably made me a lot more calculated and focused on the kind of work I make and share, which is effectively the work which I'd like to be commissioned to do.
When did you start working on a personal brand?
I don't believe it was ever something I intentionally pursued when I first began. It happened slowly and naturally as I began to focus on what I liked doing. It initially developed in small increments until I slowly became conscious about what was effective and worked but also reflected me.
Why the rebrand?
The creation of the re-brand project came from the desire to have my identity be more of a reflection of me in an illustrated sense, hence the avatar.
For my personal rebrand, I didn't like the idea of restricting myself to a rigid logo, but instead wanted something that was dynamic and would adapt and change as I do. Whilst I acknowledged the value of being able to reduce oneself to an icon or mark, committing to it made me a little nervous.
Having an avatar as a logo makes sense, so long as you never changed your hair, glasses or any other aspect of your appearance. As a result, I came up with the idea of a static base for the logo: my face, and created a tool kit of assets that could be interchangeable. I worked on an interactive application along with developer Alexander Szekely, and took inspiration from a slot machine, to show the random combinations of all the options.
Who are others whom you find self-brand well?
Lernert and Sander are a great example of how visual artists can brand themselves well through their distinct aesthetic and presentation style. Dutch artist Parra does this well using a simple and iconic color palette and character style.
Any advice on effective networking?
Making great work is satisfying but it's important to share it if you plan to make a career out of it. Connect with other people in the industry. One of the best pieces of advice I've received was that if ever I found a person's work I liked, I should email them and tell them. It's lead to great collaborations and long lasting friendships.
Any advice for students and other designers just starting out?
Try new things, experiment lots, make mistakes, be yourself and do what makes you happy.
What's your dream project?
I'd love to work with Kenzo; their shows, direction and pieces are always on point.
Are there other WNW members whose work you admire?
Bonus question! What's up with pizza? I mean its good but you're like, really into it. Curious what you love about it and where that started.
What's not to love!? It's a delicious circle which you can put pretty much anything on. It probably started when I lived at home with my folks and takeout was a luxury, a polar opposite to how my life is now, courtesy of Seamless.