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Life & Work with Siladityaa Sharma

Today we’d like to introduce you to Siladityaa Sharma.

Hi Siladityaa, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
I grew up in an environment where engineering and computer science was the coolest thing to pursue as a career. This trend influenced me, and initially, I focused on studying computer science and making that my goal for higher education. However, as I grew up, I realized my interest in design. I was unaware that one could make a living in this field. After talking to my friends who were pursuing design, I was convinced that I wanted to do this. I started gathering all that I had ever made, motion graphics, posters, etc., to form my design portfolio. I was lucky enough to get into every art school I wanted to go to, but they were all graphic design majors, and somehow I did not want that to be my discipline. Somewhere inside, there was a piece of me who did not want to lose touch with his love for technology. I was very passionate about the tech industry and tinkering and hacking as a hobby, and I tried to find common ground between design and technology.

ArtCenter has an undergraduate Interaction Design program, and it was the perfect opportunity for me to learn more about UX, visual design, and combining these principles with tech. Even during ArtCenter, I had a lot of pivot points in my career. For example, initially, I thought I wanted to design mobile and desktop apps, but gradually I realized that was not my passion. I wanted to work on experiences that went beyond a screen-based interaction. I wanted to work in the speculative design field. I like to position myself as a design technologist—someone who can speculate design concepts with proof of concepts and proven viability with future-scoped technology. I have had many opportunities to experiment with speculative concepts during my college career. I am very excited about my upcoming internship at Facebook Reality Labs as an AR Product Designer. Hopefully, I will learn more and create a more significant impact as I move ahead in this industry.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
I wouldn’t say it has been a smooth road for me. It has been indeed a very challenging path. I faced many obstacles academically during high school, and I used to think it is because I am not good at any of the classes I am taking. Still, once I got rid of the self-doubt, I realized it was because of my lack of interest in what was being taught to me. In college, life was much better. I was doing well in classes, and I had a good bond with my peers and faculty. I was thrilled with the education, and everything excited me to learn. However, no matter how hard I worked on my portfolio, I could not get myself an internship when looking for internships. Self-doubt came creeping back in. I started thinking that I was not good enough for these companies. It took many interviews and talks with industry professionals, friends, and family to understand that the right fit will come by, and it did! I want to say this to everyone who might be doubting themselves and their abilities; please don’t. Keep your head up!

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
As mentioned earlier, I like to position myself as a design technologist. I found my strengths in prototyping, visual design, and sufficient level of development skills to support my concepts. I enjoy working on speculative design concepts and future-scoped projects that try to utilize upcoming technologies into creating solutions for today. One of the projects I am proud of is Arter, an AI-powered storyboarding tool. This project is the perfect example of how I enjoy using existing mental models and solve simple problems by borrowing technology that hasn’t been developed yet for this purpose but is a possible use-case. Arter tries to solve the pain point of people who need to work in a creative environment and express their ideas visually but are hindered by their inability to sketch well. It lets people enter their vision as a few words, which can be converted into a sketch with machine learning. You can learn more about this project at arter.xyz Besides art and design, music is my second passion. Even though I have no formal education in music theory, I dabble in music production, preferably hip hop and trap music. Most of my background in music comes from online education, YouTube ftw haha. I like to think of creating music as another creative outlet for me to express myself. It is fun, exciting, and experimental, everything that I care about in art. Recently, I have started taking production a bit seriously and have had the opportunity to collaborate with different artists and just improve my craft. I go by the producer name 6Rings and have been posting regularly on my Soundcloud and sometimes even Spotify.

What matters most to you? Why?
I do not belong to the category of designers who believe that aesthetics are less important or beautiful design concepts cannot co-exist with practical design projects. I think it is approachable to create beautiful designs to follow the basic UX principles that help solve a problem. Experimentation and excitation are the two most important things for me in design. I need whatever I am working on to be experimental, fresh, and a chance to do something new. I also think it is essential that your design excite you and someone who will be interacting with it. It should spark some emotion, and it doesn’t always have to be comforting. It is okay for an experience to cause discomfort if it is a part of the design and helps inform your design. Provocative ideas are the backbone of innovation.

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