The Little Yellow Book is a series of short interviews with different members of the Landor team. You can find out more about who they are, what they do and what inspires and motivates them to do what they do.
Arnab Ray, Creative Director
Arnab Ray is our Creative Director at Landor Mumbai.He has 16 years of experience in design and advertising across India and SEA – skilled in brand identity development, communication design, graphic design, packaging, art direction and strategic concept development.
He has worked in leadership roles in top-agency networks including Happy mcgarrybowen, Brand Union and independent agencies prior to whichhe worked in leading advertising agencies like Ogilvy, Y&R and JWT.
Clients he has predominantly worked on over the span of his career are Airtel, Motorola, cure.fit, OLX, Netflix, Bacardi, Pernod Ricard, Pepsi, MAC Cosmetics, Coke, Axiata and Petronas.
Arnab is a multiple award winner at Indian & International award shows like Kyoorius, Abbys & One Show and his works have been published in various creative books as well.
His last stint was at Dragon Rouge, Singapore, as Creative Director, SEA. He is a BFA graduate from MS University, Baroda, where he topped his batch with Distinction prior to which he was in Sherwood College, Nainital where he did his schooling.
1. Tell us a little about yourself
I was born in Delhi to Bengali parents who had returned to the country after 10 years in New York and a very naughty child was their next shot at happiness 🙂 I went to school at Sherwood College, Nainital and then on to graduate in Applied Arts from MS University Baroda where I topped my college. Early years of my career were spent across India’s top advertising agencies in Delhi – Ogilvy, Y&R and JWT before moving to a locally-founded ITSA where I began my first serious tryst with design working on HCL’s internal and external branding. Then on I moved to Brand Union in Bangalore, post which I was hired to set up the design studio at Happy mcgarrybowen, where I had the good fortune of creating and shaping the cure.fit identity, working closely with the founder and his team. Then it was Dragon Rouge in Singapore where I spent a year working across the SEA market on global brands, Coke, Robi, Petronas to name a few and finally arrived where I am now, Landor Mumbai!
Apart from art, design and architecture, I love food, exploring cuisines, Pan Asian being my favourite. I can’t wait for the Pandemic to subside, so that I can travel again with my fellow-traveller – my wife, Gayatri. And yes of course, I miss my pet lab Fido very dearly, who we lost recently.
2. What is it about your work that brings you joy?
The constant opportunity to create something new keeps me motivated and excited. For me, the ability to crack a creative idea to solve a given a problem and then see it take shape and come to life is the biggest kick. I am fortunate to be able to pursue what I love doing and am passionate about and call it ‘Work’ as well. As a Creative Director, what makes me really happy is when I see that my thoughts and direction are benefitting my team, helping transform their work for the better and that in turn helping push the overall creative calibre of the office. That’s the beauty of creativity, isn’t it, it’s limitless, there is no end to what is possible! Another important aspect of work that brings me joy is the people I work with. I enjoy working with talented, warm, good human beings…and the many lasting friendships that emerge from it.
3. Tell us a little about your influences, what inspires you, what gets your creative juices flowing?
There have been many people who have inspired or influenced my outlook towards creativity over the years. But it all begins with my father. He was an architect and an artist and I grew up spending a lot of time watching him draw, paint, design. Over everything, he loved designing logos and had several sketchbooks where he hand drew logos he loved…a treasure trove I still carry with me. The first commissioned logo I designed was in class 8 for my uncle’s clinic in Kolkata where I even earned the princely sum of 2500. Haha! Of course, the logo was pretty amateurish but it had me feeling pretty chuffed back then, and even lasted 25 years, having only recently undergone a change. As I have grown up my love for logos which display powerful ideas in the simplest of ways has grown. As Sagi Haviv puts it – The mark of an iconic identity is in bringing out the essence of the brand in its purest graphic form. FedEx for example is an all-time classic. Another logo is Families by Herb Lubalin. Power of simplicity at its best.
After my father, my art teachers at Sherwood were a big inspiration; they were always happy to indulge a conversation in art and share their stories from Shanti Niketan where they studied. My elder brother was quite instrumental as well as he was already into the design and advertising scene and introduced me to a lot of good work. He in fact interned under the great Sudarshan Dheer, the man behind several famous Indian logos. HP and Titan, to name a few. While at college, I discovered the works of Paul Rand, Saul Bass, Massimo Vignelli, Herb Lubalin and Dieter Rams along with some really great advertising work from BBH, W+K, Ogilvy Mumbai and CPB. And, finally a lot of my design inspiration comes from the movies as well. I love films, and also firmly believe it is important for designers to follow and find inspiration beyond just the design world. After all, we are not here to just make things look beautiful… but bring powerful ideas to life through our medium. Stefan Seigmeister, Sagi Haviv, Paula Scher and Michael Beirut are some designers whose work I admire a lot as well. Outside of design Frank Gehry’s work is really powerful, so is Satyajit Ray’s or Martin Scorsese’s work. Trivia – My all time favourite film is The Godfather by Coppola. I also love Malika Favre’s illustrations – again, beauty in simplicity. The one artist whose work and life I am fascinated by is Vincent Van Gogh. Genius. I am lucky to see the Starry Night in person at MoMA, NYC.
4. How do you deal with uncertainty? Some advice during these times for young creative people who want to grow.
Yes, things around us are uncertain at the moment. In addition, there’s so much negativity around impacting countries, race, humanity across strata. It’s easy to lose mental ground….But if the love for your craft, your ideas, your passion for whatever you love creating is certain, then there is hope. The pandemic will eventually fade, but your passion will remain. So I try to keep it simple, not overcomplicate or overthink it with a single minded focus on what I love. My advice to young creatives would be the same… to be patient, focus on what you love doing and work hard at it. Good things will follow.
5. A management tip you would like to share with designers who’re growing to become managers
The transition from a creative to creative manager is always a tricky one. And there is always scope to become better at it. As a creative, we tend to be inward looking, working in our own bubbles, concerned only about our work and how it takes shape. But as you grow and want to move onto managerial roles, you will discover that the hardest thing to do is to come out of your own creative bubble. The perspective suddenly evolves to an outward approach. If as a manager you are demanding, remember, you have to be giving in the first place. It’s a two way street.
I am a cricket fan, and I am greatly influenced by the leadership of MS Dhoni. From watching him I have learnt that just leading from the front isn’t always the norm. A good manager should be flexible to lead from the front, within and back depending on the situation. Am working on it!
6. A brand that has powerfully taken on messaging in the pandemic?
Nike. The brand’s work has always been iconic and evolved aptly through the pandemic. I had come across a poster a long time back where it said that Just Do It is not a slogan. It is a conscience. It really stuck with me. And it is exactly what they have been successful in doing – whether through its ‘Play Inside, play for the world’ campaign, or the amazingly crafted ‘Nothing can stop what we can do together’ or the very recently released homage to Kobe Bryant for Mamba Week. What has resonated is that through their purpose they have managed to bring positivity and belief to people without really trying to sell a shoe.
7. Do you feel creatively satisfied?