By Siddhi Jain
New Delhi, Mar 21 (IANSlife): For Delhi-based graphic designer and artist, Vikramaditya Sharma, design and art remain inextricably linked -- to the point where the digital architect says he questions the separation of art and design. Founder of Now Form, a strategic design studio, Sharma works closely in the space of digital transformation on a large-scale enterprise level, and has exhibited his mental health-based photo-series 'Aurora Dotcom' at the India Art Fair.
"I think, early on, I used to distinguish between the two (art and design). Today, for me, the separation between them has reduced. They feel like one and the same thing. I don't know why we view it as two different entities. At times I wonder or I am reminded that this idea of art and design, is more western in thought. I question the relevance of this separation among the two," states Sharma.
Adding,"The traditional way of defining art and design is that design is functional, and art is more experiential or conceptual. It almost sounds like saying art is frivolous, which I don't see why it is or has to be. Similarly, it also puts design in this very clear box. What if I were to make something in a specific script or langauge, and then take that design piece out of its context, does it stop being design? Does it become art?" questions Sharma.
Having worked for New York-based C&G Partners, which involved, creating digital interactions for the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of African American History and Culture and the Museum of the Bible, the Rhode Island School of Design alumnus says he started being very interested in the intersection of graphic design and technology, especially in the context of virtual experiences.
When Sharma moved to India in 2015, he found this space was "pretty nascent and less-explored". As the world awakens to a digital shift in the way of life and even, identity, Sharma mentions a shift in acknowledgement of design and tech, over the years.
"After the pandemic, this is even more heightened and everyone is looking at how they can digitise their product or brand."
In 2020, Vikramaditya showcased his work at the Alliance Francaise, 10th Annual Design X Design, 20 under 35 show. The annual show celebrates the work of India's 20 best designers under the age of 35.
Now Form, which largely works with digital transformation, UI/UX and research and strategy for visual communication and design for brands, has worked with SBI, Marriot International and has designed communications and creative directed campaigns for apparel brands such as Raw Mango, Bhaane, Suket Dhir and Satya Paul.
Sharma's recent engagement with the campaign for fashion brand Raw Mango, was widely discussed online. Vikramaditya created bold and expressive ceramic eyes worn by the models, rendering the final look to be somewhere between eerie and extraordinary.
Creating a positive social impact through design is another area of focus for Sharma and his design studio. One of their themes for a banking client, says Sharma, was inclusivity of the gender and sexuality spectrum in their design approach -- leading large populations to be more receptive to non-binary gender identities by merely exposing viewers to it via a banal bank form.
"I was looking at small tweaks, like how adding an additional gender or a more dignified approach to gender in a form people fill out can have a massive impact in the larger context of India. It exemplifies the power of design on social change," he asserts.
"The digital is something that people need to talk about more. It's become a cornerstone for businesses. For me, digital design has an incredible scope. The concept of the effect of exposure or 'exposure effect', where through mere exposure to a thought, people are more receptive to it is significant," Sharma opines.
In a personal capacity, and in addressal of his own once-deterioriating mental health, Sharma has created the virtual and visual representation of 'Aurora Dotcom', a positive person without gender or race. After suffering his first anxiety attack in an IKEA parking lot in Texas, the artist got thinking -- and searching in his photo-archives -- about the signs of depression that may not have been as visible as the attack itself, but had been building up. Aurora Dotcom, he says, is "one such exercise in regaining control" of his mental health. I empower myself with the ritual of planting 'vibrant friends' into my photos of empty spaces".
Sharma is also the mind behind Terrain.art, a blockchain powered platform that expands the ways of globally engaging with art from South Asia. The new virtual platform aims to become an archive of Indian art, in extension of Sharma's creative exploration of how digital can become an educational tool as well.