“Every profession has its own set of difficulties. Usually, there’s a lot of glamour and fascination attached to the profession of art and design. But I purposely try to strike a conversation about the other side of the coin in my podcast,” says 25-year-old Kawal Oberoi, a graphic designer from Jammu, J&K. Oberoi works out of a makeshift studio in Kasol, Himachal Pradesh, and travels for new work, client meetings and other projects – one of them is his podcast titled Designed This Way. “The idea of the podcast is to start candid conversations with designers and other creative folks. To bring out the stories about the realities of living a creative life in India. Not just the stories of courage hard work and success but also those of mistakes, rejections and doubts. It’s designed this way,” says Oberoi.
The creative industry comes with a set of stresses, uncertainties and anxieties that are similar to other professions but also very unique to the community. The idea of a ‘tortured artist’ and the glamour of art galleries romanticise the very real, daily battles and compromises that artists and designers have to face.
Oberoi opens up about his podcasts inception, conceptualisation and the people that he has interviewed so far.
HG: Tell us about the conceptualisation – what was the need for such a podcast, in your opinion?
KO: “As a young Indian designer, I felt that the kind of conversations I was having with other designers about their creative practice were really really useful to me. These conversations would fill a void that most design books, articles and essays didn’t. Candid conversations are intimate, personal and raw. I thought, what if I carry two microphones with me when I meet different designers and publish these conversations online? I mean, what if I started a podcast?
I had this thought around in 2016. But there were things that were keeping me from getting started. I wasn’t able to find enough time and mental space that was required to plan it out thoroughly. And I was always afraid that I’ll make a fool of myself. Because I felt (and I still feel) that my voice sounds funny when recorded. I have a Punjabi accent, I have bad pronunciation and I am not even a good public speaker. The idea of hundreds of people listening to me speak and the idea of me hosting a show was super scary. But then I decided to get over this fear and just do it! So, I started with this podcast in In April 2018 as a personal project. While I was not confident about my voice, I was confident that I can have an interesting, honest and well-informed conversations. I bought mics, purchased travel tickets and pinged the amazing designers I knew. I have been extremely lucky to have known people who are way more talented and knowledgeable than I am.
My first recording was with my typography teacher, Professor Mahendra Patel and the second one was with my extremely talented friend Mira Malhotra. I can’t describe how nervous I was a night before Mahendra’s recording. But I showed up, started the mics and let the conversation flow. I sound quite mechanical at the beginning of that episode, as I was reading my prepared notes. But after those two episode recordings, I gained confidence and started meeting more people. So, I did a lot of recordings in the months of April and May. But then I was too nervous to publish them. So, I started working on some client projects and worked side by side on this podcast.
In the next two months, I taught myself to audio editing and started editing the episodes. I also created the visual identity for the podcast (Apparently, designing for your personal project is way more difficult than designing for a client brief). In mid-July, I finally launched the podcast. So far, the response has been unbelievable! (ﾉ◕ヮ◕)ﾉ*:･ﾟ✧
The idea of the podcast is to start candid conversations with designers and other creative folks. To bring out the stories about the realities of living a creative life. Not just the stories of courage, hard work and success but also the stories of mistakes, rejections and doubts. It’s designed this way.
Apparently, people are vibing with it. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯”
HG: How do you choose whom to interview for the podcast?
KO: “I started by getting on the podcast the talented people I knew personally. On this podcast, I would like to have people who are creating great work and hold interesting opinions. I might not personally agree with their opinions but I want them to express their point of view on this podcast. Also, I wish to have a diversity of thoughts, practices and opinions on this podcast.
Above all, I want people who are genuinely excited about the idea behind this podcast. If they’re excited and have interesting things to talk about, other factors don’t matter as much. If they’re not excited, I don’t think it’s worth their time or mine or the listeners’. I do not like creating content just for the sake of content creation. That’s not me.”
HG: What does the future hold for ‘Designed This Way’? Which designers and creatives can we look forward to hearing from?
KO: “I started this podcast with a focus on Indian designers and creative folks. I still can’t believe the response people have shown towards this podcast. It’s not even been two months since I launched it and there’s already a huge listener base in India and abroad. I have no clue what direction this podcast will head towards. Absolutely no clue at all. I guess I was highly underprepared. Designers from other countries have also shown an active interest in being on this podcast. I have no clue how will I get them on the podcast. As in, I don’t know how will I develop mutuality and have a genuine conversation over Skype. But I guess, I’ll figure out something. There might be non-Indian creative folks from other eastern countries on the podcast and maybe a small fraction of people from the west. Honestly, IDK :S It’s way too early for me to say anything about this part. This podcast is getting way bigger than I initially prepared for. And it will grow and transform in the ways I can’t predict.
٩(｡•́‿•̀｡)۶ But I’ll always try to keep the conversations candid and real. It’s Designed this way.”
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