Why I started making Watercolor Illustrations?

Since I was a kid I was fascinated with watercolors and for some reason I could never control the way they worked. Maybe it was because of the tiny hands trying too hard to be perfect or because eventually as I grew up I had a problem which makes my hands tremble. I became afraid of using the medium which had this attribute of entropy in it. I could use sketch pens, markers and pencils easily as they still had some control.

So, what exactly changed after so many years of fear?

As I got more time to work on things in a very hands on, physical, tangible way; I started exploring various materials, techniques, process, tools in making things. The entire mindset of getting into making things rather than looking at them in tutorials and thinking one day I’ll do it made the difference. I was no longer thinking about the entropy which came with any sort of tools. I learnt something new with every mistake I made.

And one more thing which was important was that I set goals which were achievable and then once I could get past them, I’ll set a new one which would be complex in varied ways. It could be using the same technique with a different tool, it could be using the same tool in a different way or it could be employing a process in a setting where I had never used it before. And all this re-observing and re-learning lead to the belief that I could venture into getting started with watercolors which I wanted since I was a kid.

I started making small cards which were 8cmx9cm to begin with. And I didn’t try some really fancy technique or handwork. I just started by making rectangular blocks of watercolors, sometimes mixing two or even three of them, I saw a lot of YouTube videos. They really helped me to get the basic and the physicality of the process. I would use these colored cards and do hand lettering on them. Pinterest came to the rescuse. I found some of the most beautifully done hand lettering there. In between I’ll do some on my own as well. And also because I wanted to make these cards for someone I really liked, so I was in a way putting my heart and soul into it.

Eventually I ended up making a lot of these cards and giving it to a lot of people as a token of love, gratitude and care.

From the 8cmx9cm cards I moved on the A5 size notebook. I wanted to try out the same technique of merging colors as I wanted to have a certain sort of mastery in it. I again made hand lettered pages. And all this I was trying on cartridge sheet or ivory which is really not meant for watercolors. These sheets will get all crinkled because of water and I’ll just iron them out. I still had the fear of using a good quality sheet.

And recently I thought that it’s time to use watercolor sheets and make complex forms than hand lettering. I started looking at complex forms which I have been fascinated (themes like space travel, animals, life in passing, movies I like) on Pinterest and Google. Found some crazy good stuff specially the animal series by Kerby Rosanes. I took out black and white printouts of the illustrations I liked and after getting the delivery of watercolor sheets I headed down to the giant lightbox at NID. I started tracing the illustrations using Pigma Micron fineliners. And soon I had a bunch of them which I wanted to watercolor on. As I had learnt color merging it became easy for me to color the illustrated sheets. The hand was still the same but the mindset had changed, so I was fine with making mistakes and during this entire process beginning from the small cards I sort of had found ways to rectify the mistakes. I’ve become better at handling the material, tools, technique and I think I’ve improved a bit in illustration and sketching as well.

My current setup is

  • Brustro 200gsm Cold Press Artists’ Water Color Paper
  • Camel Artists’ Water Color Cakes 18 Shades 300 – C -18
  • Sakura Koi Water Brushpen Medium
  • Chinese Water Brushpen Large
  • 50mm Flat Synthetic Bristle Brush
  • Technical Art Mechanical Pencil 2.0mm
  • Grafo Mech-Pencil Lead 2.0mm
  • Jinhao Ink Pen
  • Pilot V7 0.7mm Pen
  • Pilot V Sign Pen
  • Pigma Micron 005 01 02 03 05 08 Fine Liner
  • Pigma Brush Pen
  • Uniball Signo 0.7mm White Gel Pen
  • Oddy Correction Pen
  • Staedtler Rubber Eraser

Watercolor Setup

Some of the channels I follow on YouTube

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Return of the Rebels

In the past year I’ve come across some brilliant humans. People who personify Rob Siltanen’s “Here’s to the crazy ones”. People who are not happy with whatever is happening around them, who have a problem with status quo. People who have the courage to ask the the Hard Questions. People who want to change things for the good. People for whom a job title is not the important thing.

Crazy ones

All these people share some common fundamental values and ideology. I’ve been talking to a few of them on regular basis. And finally after months of talking on phone, emails and skype, we finally ended up meeting in Delhi for 3 days. It took some flights, trains and a couple of taxi and auto rides to be in the same shared space-time continuum.

These 3 days were some of the most interesting and mentally challenging days i had in the last few months. We probed and provoked each other to form a common understanding of

  • what we are?
  • what we want to do?
  • where we are headed?
  • why we are the way we are?
  • what makes us tick?
  • why work together?
  • what needs to be done?
  • what sort of questions need to be asked and probed?

We also were interested in asking the What ifs?

  • What if everyone comes together for making a social impact?
  • What if open systems are employed for tackling UNDP sustainability goals?
  • What if we want to change the way design is practiced?
  • What if sustainability, systems thinking and design things is the only way to turn consumption and consumerism into something meaningful?
  • What if design becomes the basis of every system?
  • What if sense making and meaning making is more important that profit making?
  • What if we enable every person to maximize their potential and to live a content life?
  • What if there is something for everyone to learn?
  • What if the learning process is made very personal and experimental?
  • What if processes move beyond Human Centeredness and aim for Life Centeredness?
  • What if embracing fuzziness and and breaking down barriers is a normal approach?

Sticky Notes


The people I’m talking about have spent a majority of their time doing projects in the sector of social innovation, open learning and for the maximization of human potential.

Anmol Kaur 

Anmol Final

She is an engineer and a designer who enjoys arranging, connecting and making sense of information and systems – particularly in global development. She is inspired by the possibility of living in a world of compassion, universal freedom, and ubiquitous access to opportunity.

Currently, She’s on a one year self-directed master’s degree, looking to better understand the skills, tools, and mindsets required to be an exceptional designer and social impact leader.

She has worked as a volunteer consultant at Goonj, a Delhi-based NGO creating a parallel economy using waste as a resource for rural development, and at BMO Financial Group, as a Business Transformation Consultant in the Office of the COO, on digital transformation projects, lean process improvements, and customer experience mapping.

Check out some of her recent work and ideas on her blog.

 

Christopher Scott

Chris Final

He is a design-curious management consultant currently working along with Anmol and has worked with coffee farmers in Ethiopia. He is intrigued by the power of innovative business models to solve complex problems for people across sectors and geographies.

Check out his profile.

Together Chris and Anmol have been working on creating a platform “Designers of Tomorrow” where they are spending a year in India working on development-related projects using systems and design thinking, curating a curriculum on development, design, and moral leadership, and exploring different models for learning. They recently finished a project in the hills of Himalaya. They partnered with a social enterprise, EduCARE India, which focuses on facilitating community led sustainable development in rural areas, like Naddi. After spending some time getting settled, soaking in the vastness of the mountains around them, and meeting some of the community members here, they worked with EduCARE to define a challenge area.

How might we reduce the amount of time women in rural communities spend on unpaid (household) work so that they can contribute more time to their personal aspirations, economic well-being of their households, and sustainable development of their communities?

 

Laura A. François

Laura Final

She is from Montréal, Canada but she loves finding new places in which to feel local.

She is a creative design and systems thinker, feeling most alive when she is collaborating on social innovation projects. She worked with piktochart to create some amazing resources.

Though she claims that she is no fashionista, She is currently obsessed with her closet as she believes it contains the secret to a happier planet. She is a change agent for human rights in the fashion industry, facilitating awareness, and connecting the human and environmental stories behind our clothing.

She’s currently the Country Co-ordinator for Fashion Revolution Singapore. And also part of a successfully funded Indigogo campaign, Artisan & Fox (Discover the world’s hidden makers, Discover ethical jewelry, shawls and bags handmade by extraordinary artisans across the developing world)

You can find out more about her on her site.


All of us coming together and meeting reinforced our belief that there is power in participation, co-creation and openness. We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each other’s happiness – not by each other’s misery.

When people come together to look at the problem as a collective and listen to the issues and concerns of each member, they end up forming a very holistic perspective of the problem at hand. Solutions are built with the participation of everyone and by building on the ideas of others the system thus formed is an open and a democratically designed one. It’s a transparent system with every single entity visible to each member.

DESIGN IS OF THE PEOPLE. BY THE PEOPLE. FOR THE PEOPLE.

 

Sonic Architect: Marconi

A tribute to the one who made long distance work, Guglielmo Marconi!

The body of Marconi is made using Pine wood which has a buttery color. Each part of the radio was cut using a jigsaw and sanded with 3 successive sandpaper to get a smooth finish. Enclosure was glued using wood glue and then held in place using 90 degree clamps.

Grill is made using teakwood, the grill has a grid of 11×11 6mm holes. A plan of the grill was printed on paper and then glued to the grill piece. All the 121 holes were center punched and then handrilled on a drill press.

The FM receiver is mounted on a pine wood piece with two holes for the volume and frequency pots.

One of the pinewood part can be removed from the back to change the battery, which should ideally last for a couple of years. Grill, FM Receiver mount plate, back plate are all glued to the enclosure.

The handle is made out of pine wood and are then attached to the main body. The volume and frequency knobs are made out of pine as well.

Marconi is handcrafted with an old school look in mind. It takes roughly 10 hours to make the system.

 

Specifications

  • FM Receiver
  • Stained and hand oiled Pine Wood
  • 2000 mAh Battery
  • 1.6″ Full-Range Drivers
  • Hand Drilled stained Teak Wood Grill
  • Pine wood Knob
  • Pine wood or Leather Handle
  • Aluminum Antenna
  • Dimension: 25cmx13cmx11cm
In the box
  • Marconi
  • USB cable

Open Source Directory of Makers/Designers/Fabricators/Suppliers

Two years back we started generating a sort-of Marauder’s Map for all the explorers/tinkerers/makers/designers of the city of Ahmedabad. We wanted to let people move beyond their worktables and the entire city to become the space of action. Why not utilize the whole town which is at your disposal providing you with unlimited resources, interesting people and events.

 

Over the top-left of the map , you shall find the filters to locate specific amenities.

I’m planning of expanding this further to connect Makers/Designers/Fabricators/Suppliers with an Open Source Making Directory with maps and the facilities and resources which are being offered.

I’m open to suggestions, ideas, collaborations, funding (If someone is generous enough) etc. So, in case you want to get back, please send in your messages at

ekprayog@gmail.com

Sonic Architect: Wilson

A tribute to the brilliant Progressive Rockstar Steven Wilson!

Satisfy your inner audiophile with this hand crafted wooden audio system! The Sonic Architect Wilson is handmade using Teak and Pine wood with a handwoven fabric grill. Each unit is hand assembled based on “Less is More” approach. A power switch and an aluminum volume knob makes the system easy to use.

Specifications
– 20 Watt Class D Amplifier
– 2.2″ Full Range Driver
– Passive Radiator
– 3.5mm AUX Input
– Aluminum Volume Knob
– Stained Teak Enclosure
– Handwoven Fabric Grill
– 12 Volt DC Power Adapter

Siempre Senna

Ayrton Senna

He actually believed that he had a God-given right to win.
-Murray Walker

Senna was not just another Formula 1 driver. Senna was a Force of Nature. No one in the history of Formula 1 dedicated more to this sport. He had something in him which set him apart from everyone else in the sport. There was something different in him; he had the looks of a hero, a rock solid determination, charisma that could smite anyone, expressiveness of a poet, spirituality of a healer and above all the love for humanity
I’ve been an admirer of Senna for quite a lot time and I’ve seen lot of documentaries, races and read numerous article on him. And I’ve always wondered how someone could have such determination?

He was born in a rich Brazilian family. Since childhood he was passionate about racing and this passion for most of his life kept him away from his family. Since his go kart days he saw himself as someone who could be the fastest person in the world. He trained his brain in such a way that racing became everything to him. He was so determined
to win that he would go on to say “When you are fitted in a racing car and you race to win, second or third place is not enough”

Because of this determination and his own knowledge about how proficient he was; there came another side of him which would lead him to take actions that would put his and his opponents’ life at risk. He was ruthless on the circuit; he would come up from behind and put the other driver in a situation which would either lead to a crash or him overtaking. He took racing from mere mechanical prowess to psychological warfare. Senna’s arch rival and teammate Alain Prost once said “Ayrton has a small problem. He thinks he can’t kill himself, because he believes in god, and I think that’s very dangerous”

It’s not that he was a lunatic who would put his and others life at risk. He had transcended to such a level in racing that he could make decisions in split seconds which others couldn’t. He had overcome his fear of unknown, he went on to push all the limits that existed in the sports of racing. He would become one with the car and outperform his own teammate who was driving the same car. And a lot of time he described his driving in a metaphysical manner, a kind of out-of-body experience. Others perceived driving to be sort of mechanical but Senna perceived driving as spiritual and extension of his determination.

He never left the cars up to the mechanics. He would work with them and was in fact one of the few drivers who knew the cars so well. He constantly updated himself about what the cars were capable of doing and then he would go on to drive in a manner which was never witnessed before. In terms of neuroscience he was constantly bombarding his brain and body with new information and experiences. Our perception is the most adaptable cognitive function. Ayrton in a way was altering his perception about racing with every single experience and by pushing his body and brain to the limit he was able to break free of the entire perception and fear cycle. Maybe his neural pathways for perception and motor skills were so highly developed that they sort of fired a lot stronger than it happens in an average racing driver.

Because of his sheer determination to win people thought he was cold at heart. But this was not true. He was one of the biggest believers in humanity. People often saw Senna pushing people to the edge while racing; but there was another side to him. Once in a race Senna ran from his car in front of upcoming traffic to save fellow driver Erik Comas who had a dreadful crash and was knocked unconscious in his car. He felt devastated by the death of fellow driver Roland Ratzenberger and wanted to start an association of drivers to push for more safety norms. But he died on the same racetrack the following day.

He always felt sad at the condition of his fellow countrymen especially kids. He felt that cause of his nice upbringing he could pursue his passion for racing but at the same time felt that a lot of kids in Brazil don’t have access to proper education and facilities. While he was alive he donated an estimated $400 million of his personal fortune to children welfare charity, without anyone knowing about it. He brought pride and joy to the people of Brazil. He was a demi-god in his country because of his humility and his love for others. And people loved him in return and it was evident when a three day official mourning was declared across Brazil and a record three million people lined the streets for his funeral procession. Senna have affected the life of so many people.

Senna took racing to a new level of commitment and dedication and he operated on physiological and psychological limits which were beyond the reach of any of his counterparts at the time when Formula 1 was the strongest since its inception.

I read somewhere “Ayrton Senna was the ultimate drivers’ driver”

I’ll end this section with a quote from Senna

“Once you are in it you are in it, you have to go all the way to the end because you commit yourself to such a level where there is no compromise. You give everything you have absolutely everything. Sometimes you find even more because you require more if you want to stay ahead and you want to win.”

A small montage of what Senna was

Book List

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I’m putting down a list of books which I’ve gone through the past 4 years of design education. Some of them are not design books but are worth reading. Some of them are accessible on platforms like Issuu, some could be found in libraries or some you would have to buy. This list is the one I have right now. There are a few more which I’ll add in the coming days. There is no order in which the books are mentioned.

ekprayog-Design Democracy and Tinkering

If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.

-Ken Robinson

doc-cover-page-alt

This is the thesis/degree project document. Link to the document.

People construct their own understanding and knowledge of the world, through experiencing things and reflecting on those experiences. When we encounter something new, we have to reconcile it with our previous ideas and experiences, in the process maybe changing what we believe, or discarding the new information as irrelevant. In any case, we are active creators of our own knowledge, perception and consciousness. To do this, we must ask questions, explore, and assess what we know or shall I say what we don’t know. The best way to learn is to simply start doing and tinkering the world surrounding us.

Since the Industrial Revolution people have become used to mass manufacturing and use & throw mindset. We humans have become very consumerist and market driven, like machines devouring on natural resources without much thinking behind our actions. There is an eagerness to be better than others around; there is a need of a bigger house, a bigger car and more cash in wallet. Everything is about consumption for majority of people living on planet Earth.

This project is my way of questioning the present design practices and experimenting with the alternative practices. The core objective of the project is to explore design through the lenses of human centeredness, sustainability, intuitiveness, co-creation, collaboration, openness, making and tinkering. This project has led to creation of new products, process and systems with various stakeholders.

Why Handmade is Expensive

There are these tiny variances and idiosyncrasies in each object, each of them being soldered, assembled and then finished using hands is in a way putting your energy, effort and SOUL in it.

Since the time I started posting pictures and specifications of the handmade speakers, the response from everyone has been amazing. The speakers have been featured in Designboom, Yanko, Tuvie and numerous other blogs and articles. It is a nice feeling to get appreciated for your work. And a lot of people have shown interest in buying them and it’s all too great.

After the price of the systems is shared then comes the not so encouraging response. A lot of people respond by saying that they are a bit on the expensive side and why not buy a JBL or a Creative system at halt the price. Some friends who don’t want to be rude end up saying “Let me save money to buy them”. I don’t take offence in it and I know everyone has some or the other constrains. Some times even I wonder are the systems really expensive! But then when I look at the entire process and time which has gone into arriving at the final products, the price is spot on!

This post is not only about the speakers. It is about each and every painstakingly handmade object and system.

I agree that you can buy a system from JBL or Creative at half the price but at I’m not running megafactories consuming resource at an unprecedented rate. The components being used in big manufacturers and my systems are almost same. The systems I make are not mass produced and to make a comparison between them and counter-shelf systems is just as absurd as comparing a Prius and Pagani! (I’m no way close to the attention to detail which Pagani has but still). These systems are not meant to be sold for the purpose of instant gratification. These systems are meant for people who are patient enough for things to happen and can value the hardwork and effort which has gone behind making handmade objects and ones who are going to take care of them for a long time.

When a Handmade object is made a lot goes into it. It’s just not about putting things together.

  • Cost of materials and components
  • Labour
  • Packaging
  • Overhead
  • Profit
  • For the Greater Good

When one is making handmade and made to order objects then economy of scale becomes relevant. A small setup can never compete with giants like JBL, Bose etc when it comes to Bill of Material and labour cost.

There is an entire slow movement behind the handmade object, a movement away from instant consumption and consumerism. There are these tiny variances and idiosyncrasies in each object, each of them being soldered, assembled and then finished using hands is in a way putting your energy, effort and SOUL in it. One has to learn and improve constantly, handcraftmanship is a way of life. When people see a handmade object a lot of them think that it’s just material, why so expensive? No one has seen the work, research and efforts which have gone to take the material to a functionalist object. A lot of work goes into making mass produced objects as well but something thrown out of injection molded machines can never come close to the love and affection put in a handmade object. My friend who works closely with craftsmen once said “Each object has the stories of the makers entwined within them”. The labour is not forced, it is done out of love for the entire process and the object.

When running a small setup the overheads can be huge. There is no steady monthly cheque, no rolling forecast or assembly lines at the starting of the month! A lot of things have to be managed and the setup needs to be frugal and resilient to external factors.

At the end of the day after giving something meaningful to the world one has to fill their own stomach as well.  A setup that does not make enough profit will go out of business. Also in order to improve and create new processes and objects one has to spend money, which can only be done if some money is left.

Deciding on materials and processes which don’t end up damaging the surrounding and environment is something which is critical to me. Whenever possible components and materials are sourced and processed locally. There is a larger ecosystem and ideology at work behind the speakers, I intend to work with foundations and plant trees to give back more then what is taken. And if the ideology and objects grow to a considerable amount, I would like to include the local woodworkers into the ecosystem. Some of the systems have been open sourced as well. A lot of people who cannot afford to buy them can make them on their own in a non commercial way.

My Handmade systems can never compete with the big shots and I don’t intend to contribute to the pathological consumption. My intention is to make he finest handmade audio systems. Next time you see a handmade product with a price that surprises you, hopefully this will help you understand what’s behind that price.

Encourage and support small setups during the holiday seasons and year round. They might need your love and attention!

Sonic Architect: Lasercut Series

This new line is an amalgamation of digital fabrication, DIY and handcraftsmanship. Every system is handmade using MDF lasercut panels, grill and is hand assembled. Very functionalist in its approach, the speakers fit well along the lines of “Less but Better”; A lasercut Volume Knob, a 3.5mm AUX jack and a Micro USB charging port is all that these systems have. All the systems are powered by a Class D Amplifier and uses Fullrange drivers along with a Lithium Ion Battery lasting around 10-15 hours depending on the usage.

 

Portable music back with a Classic form!

 -Efficient 6 Watt Class D Amplifier
-Small Form Factor with Big Sound
-Sealed MDF Enclosure
-2000 mAh Battery
-Fullrange Drivers
-3.5mm AUX input
-Stained Grill
-Lasercut Volume Knob

Available as built and in kit form. Made to order.