Counting cows.

I found the ppt presentation I did a while back in Mumbai to a hall of designers, in which, I threw in some self-reflecting numbers:

Over the years between 1994—2000 I logged:

  • Annual reports: 100+
  • Newsletters & corporate brochures: 400+
  • Books/Corporate profiles: 60+
  • Awards: 0+ (There were one or two merits somewhere)

And the awfully depressing part:

  • Designers whom I’m in contact with (besides staff and ex-staff): 0
  • Design lectures/talks/seminars attended: 1
  • Number of days taken for holidays: 0
  • Number of working hours per day: 16+
  • Number of overnights spent in studio: ?

During that period, I always wanted to know what other designers are doing (or thinking), and wished that they could/would share some of their experiences with me, so that an ignorant young designer like me could learn and improve myself.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.

I couldn’t possibly pick up my phone and call another designer and start a conversation that goes like this:

“Hello Nelson, you don’t know me but I would really like to know what you are doing. I really like your works and would like to know you in person. Oh, by the way, I happened to run a design studio, and yea, we are pitching for the same jobs.”

For a while, these people belonged to the elusive list of “designers I would like to meet but I just don’t know when”. It was a list of designers who were producing respectable works in our small design industry.

The local design events (if there were any) were always organised by a paper company on a “by invitation” basis. I was never a “VIP customer” since my clients never had the budget to splurge on luxury papers.

I was always hiding behind my cubicle.

That was then.

6 years down the road and about 2 hours ago I asked myself:

“Have I made a difference in the creative industry?”

How&why is 6 years old. My two fantastic colleagues were joking about doing a 7 year anniversary next year. Why 7? “Because we just want to find a reason to celebrate something”.

I guess on a personal level I have accomplished my mission of getting to know many of the people on the list. More than that, I have managed to persuade most of them to step out in public, to share their knowledge and experiences with the people who cared to know. It brings me even more joy to see well-established people sacrificing their precious time working and guiding students — they aren’t obligated to but have done so on numerous occasions, whenever I asked them.

“Have I made a difference in the creative industry?”

I would want to think so. That’s such a lovely self-appreciative and self-congratulatory thought.

But the truth is, the past 6 years had been a difficult journey.

It has been energy sapping, mentally draining and definitely not financially rewarding. Sometimes I wonder whether I have lost my sanity and toiled in vain.

Sometimes I just want to drop all these and be a designer, again.

Maybe I would.

(in a reflective mood today)