Some days I’m really grateful for services like Twitter. Amid my stream of
lame regular tweets (“I’m eating lunch. #lunch #delicious #instagram #YOLO”) I came across a link to a graphic designer’s recently launched online shop; as I absentmindedly clicked the link I was instantly bombarded by a swath of creative stationary, canvas prints, & throw pillows. After perusing the shop’s wares I found out that the amazing printwork was done by NYC graphic designer, Rashi Birla. I’m always one to satisfy my curiosity so I reached out to her regarding her inspiration and design methods. Lucky for us, she responded and I’m happy to share the exclusive interview I had with her.
First and foremost, can you tell us a little about yourself & your history as a designer?
I’m originally from Northern California and I’ve always been in love with everything creative. My earliest childhood memories all involve arts & crafts or watching my mother work on some new creative project. I had no idea what graphic design was until I took a high school journalism class and started working on layouts and graphics for our school newspaper. I thought, ‘Hey, this is something I could do and be pretty good at.’ I went to UCLA and studied Design | Media Arts there. Upon graduating, I started as a designer at an interactive design firm in Los Angeles. I had a good run there, but eventually I felt like I wasn’t really speaking to my strengths as a designer. I took what I learned about interactive design and decided to become a full-time freelancer last year. Being my own boss lets me take on all sorts of projects that excite me, whether it be branding, web, print, styling, or even building out my own product line.
What brought you to NYC from the Bay Area? We have terribly awkward winters.
Yea, this winter was especially tiresomeâ€”I’ll be more than happy if I never see my winter coat again! I definitely miss the California weather, but once spring hits here, I pretend the winter never happened. It works pretty well until the next winter starts again… I’ve wanted to do a stint in New York ever since I was in high school. There is something about being a creative and perusing your craft in New York that I always found admirable, sexy and exciting. NYC can be tiring and intense, but I’ve found that I thrive on it. I’m truly a product of my environment. Plus, there is just so much to do here all the time. If you are bored in New York, I think you are doing something wrong.
You definitely have a clear visual style, can you share your inspiration behind it?
It’s interesting you say that, because I feel like I’m just starting to develop a visual style. It took me years to get here, and I have a feeling I have a ways to go. I also think the type of work I do dictates what style I design in. If you look at my client work, I have to work within the style of the client and stay on brand for them. If I’m producing my own work, like in my print shop or my blog, I can definitely see my style coming out. Maybe it took me longer to find a style because I didn’t start doing a lot of self initiated work until recently? I think most of my inspiration is a mix of my background, my education, and the things I like. I’m of Indian descent and I’m naturally drawn to complex patterns and colorsâ€”like the kind you might find on Indian textiles. But through my design education and working in web, I’ve become a little more minimal and like creating work that feels clean. I’m still trying to find the perfect balance between the two!
What made you decide to open a print shop?
Opening a print and product shop is something I’ve always wanted to do simply because I like making stuff. And as wonderful as the web is, I love being able create a physical product. My goal is to one day produce a complete product line that could be sold in stores everywhere. I would love to create a brand. It look me a long time to take the plunge to create my shop, but finally I decided to stop thinking about all the reasons I shouldn’t do it and focus on all the potentially awesome things that could happen if I gave it a shot.
How did you go about finding someone to produce your products?
I’m currently selling my stuff through Society6. What’s great about Society6 is that they take care of all the production, you just need to design the work. The downside is that I have no control over the production and can’t use the materials or methods I want to produce my work. I’m using Society6 as a test market for my line. I want to see what people like, what sells, and what doesn’t. Once I have a good grasp of all that, I’ll go out and produce everything on my own.
Considering today’s economy, do you have any advice for aspiring designers?
Things are definitely tough, and the design world is getting more and more competitive. It goes without saying, but I’ve found that nothing beats hard work. The harder you work and the more you put yourself out there, the more opportunities will come your way. You have to create a presence for yourself and keep churning out work. The more work you produce, the better you are going to get. Even though there is so much creative work floating out there in the internet, the good work will eventually get noticed.
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It was great getting the chance to learn about Rashi and her amazing graphic design work. If you like what you saw please visit her online shop or check out her portfolio to see more of her work. She’s also got a great blog with creative content so be sure to follow her on twitter to keep up to date.