Twenty-three-year-old Delhi boy Arjun Kumar, growing up, was constantly making time for painting, sketching, drawing, basically engaging in myriad creative pursuits. His foray in painting began in water colour and acrylic. Van Gogh’s work inspired him to move to oil and he tried his hand at various techniques such as impasto and drybrush.
He was fascinated by how things work, and decided to take up electronic engineering at Bharti Vidyapeeth, Paschim Vihar, in New Delhi. Along with that, he made time to explore other creative pursuits from engaging in drama to taking up photography and designing for IEEE.
Kumar says, “My experiences helped me realise how by combining photography and design, I could leverage my analytical and my artistic abilities to create something beautiful to communicate with people. I decided to seek a career that would allow me to combine my interest in technology with my aptitude for art and design YouTube and Google have been my teachers. I put my creativity to use by learning software such as After Effects, Illustrator and Photoshop. From the technical point of view, I also learnt coding websites such as HTML, etc.”
To seek career options in UI/UX design, motion design and graphic design, he started learning new skills by taking online courses, YouTube tutorials and blogs, and preparing a portfolio to apply at different advertising agencies. Even though he didn’t have any formal education in this field, he was able to secure a position in a digital advertising agency, Interactive Avenues. He stepped into advertising after his graduation.
At Interactive Avenues, Kumar designed media banners and social media posts for brands. He was very keen to understand how the system worked, so he connected with people in different departments, how campaigns and briefs were handled from the clients to account managers and to them in the creative team.
“I learnt the art of decoding a client brief, creating campaigns using information given by the search team, integrating technology with the help of our tech team, and pitching my ideas to the client,” Kumar shares.
He worked on several prestigious digital campaigns for Coca-Cola — Thums Up Charged, #ShareACoke, Sprite vs. Summer and Coca-Cola at IPL. His memorable work on the professional front is the Thums Up Charged campaign. “Working on the Thums Up Charged campaign was the first big account that I worked on and I tried my best and kept on learning. It was a great digital campaign,” says Kumar.
After a year at Interactive Avenues, he shifted to Bartle Bogle Hegarty as a creative partner, where he has had the opportunity to create the look and feel of Nestlé products on a digital platform — from providing art direction to photoshoots, digital films and online campaigns. “It helped me realise that creative is not only the way I think or see, but the way I want to live,” adds Kumar.
He feels that exposure to digital films has provided experience in how to create storyboards for his ideas and scripts, the pre-production deck and work with production houses. He has learned how to shift gears quickly. Creating a plan of action for social media platforms, a visual language that could be sustained for the months to come and execute the creatives and media plan, had been extremely enriching.
Kumar says he received job offers after completing his graduation in engineering and if not in the creative and art field, he would have gone into coding.
In his spare time, he loves doing photography. He enjoys the new platforms of visual communication as much as painting. He also loves documenting the Indian culture and traditions. He has worked on a lot of personal projects like he has covered the Pushkar Camel Fair, Dev Deepawali in Varanasi, which takes place two weeks after Diwali and has 87 ghats lit with diyas, akhadas. He went to cover kushti at the time when Dangal was released, Lath Maar Holi and Spiti Valley in Himachal.
On the personal front, his favourite work is that of an impasto painting of an Aghori sadhu which he prepared in 2014, in his second year of college. He also loved his photography project of Lath Maar Holi.
When speaking about the challenges that he faces usually, he says, “The turnaround time given by clients is too less. Being digital, there is a shortage of time and the clients expect the quality of work to be similar to that of a mainline agency.”
Though he hasn’t won any awards individually, his campaign for #ShareACoke has won many accolades and awards.
“You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. The dots have all connected. I turned my hobbies into extra-curricular activities in college to finally a career path that I love,” summarises Kumar.