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Rising Stars: Meet Shantanu Sharma

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

Hi Shantanu, 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?
My parents used to be journalists when I was growing up. I was born in Sri Lanka, grew up in Singapore, Dubai, and New Delhi. Moving around a lot as a child taught me to be adaptable and open-minded. A lot of things, situations, and relationships felt temporary. I started drawing, keeping sketchbooks and journals from an early age, it was a good practice to have and keep track of changes but still have an outlet that was constant personal. Looking back now, I’m incredibly grateful for those experiences, having the opportunity to travel the world at a young age is a privilege and prepped me to eventually move to New York to study design and start my career.

I started by drawing a lot and imitating other artists work I admired until I got to a stage where I felt confident in my own skills and reached a stage where I questioned why artists were making those decisions and how I could offer my own unique perspective to make my work ownable. I was sure I wanted to pursue a career in the creative field when I was about 14 and started working towards making that happen.

I just graduated from the School of Visual Arts in May of 2021 and started working as a designer at an agency a few weeks after in June.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Yes and no. I have been quite fortunate to have had the opportunity to come to the US to study design, to have had experiences that have shaped me and my thinking, to have graduated and gotten a job in the middle of a pandemic, and to be able to be a designer in a field/profession that I am passionate about and feel fulfilled in.

That being said, as a creative working it’s not all smooth sailing but that’s the beauty of it, in my opinion. The process of creation is usually a struggle but as long as I continue to have fun doing it, I can only view it positively. Being in art school for four years, you’re forced to create something new everyday and learn to present your ideas with conviction and confidence at the risk of your peers and mentors questioning and critiquing your efforts. That process forced me to constantly question my work and ensured I was always prepared to stand by my decisions but still be open-minded to learn, adapt, and grow (thick skin!). It was thrilling and having just left it, I missed it. Coming to art school, I believed as a student if I was comfortable, I was doing something wrong.

After I graduated and started working, I decided to take the rest of the year off, in terms of personal and freelance projects, to completely enjoy the position I’m in and the efforts of the last few years. As an international student, I was always worried about ‘the next thing’ and trying to ‘make it’. I’m currently happy with where I am and wanted to fully appreciate it by just focusing on my new/first job. I’ve been reading, thinking, and trying to find new avenues within the creative space that interest me and would potentially like to explore. I’m a restless person and constantly feel the need to be making something to almost validate my worth as an artist/designer. Being patient and forcing myself to not force myself creatively has been a bit of a challenge but I’m excited to get back into it and explore new avenues outside of my full-time design projects soon.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I’m currently a graphic designer by profession. My work focuses on branding, editorial, and packaging. Ultimately, I focus on narratives and communicating messages and stories visually, whether it’s concepts for brand positioning, visual identity systems, and such.

I also illustrate and animate. If it involves either type, image, or color, I’m interested!

Is there any advice you’d like to share with our readers who might just be starting out?
I’m just starting out so I could probably use some of that advice! But based on the current position I’m in, I would say just keep experimenting and trying new things, reach a point where you can be convinced of your decision making within a particular medium, whether its illustration, 3D, AR, etc. Everyone has a unique perspective to offer, keep practicing to find and own yours. Listen, observe, question.

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