Dulwich Alumni | Janani R: Passion for the Arts Can Take You A Long Way!
Today, my passions lie in service design and human-centred design which help real people by providing delightful and beneficial experiences and products.
A passion for the arts can take you a long way! We recently had the pleasure of interviewing Janani R about the source of her passion, her journey through education and her entry into design and technology.
How did you find your interest in art/design?
Art was always my favourite subject in any school I attended. Time would seem to fly by a lot faster when I was busy using my hands to make something beautiful. Even outside school hours, my mom would enroll me in art, dance, or violin classes.
It was only after I came to Dulwich that I began to shift my career goals from visual arts towards design. In my Design and Technology class, we would use new software and design solutions to solve real-world problems. In turn, I understood that being able to help people through my creative work always inspired me to do better. Today, my passions lie in service design and human-centered design which help real people by providing delightful and beneficial experiences and products.
Did DCSZ play a role in cultivating your passion for art/design? If so, how?
Whether it be theatre, music, visual arts or design and technology, Dulwich allowed you to combine these artistic fields with other useful courses. For example, taking art and design alongside economics and other sciences pushed me to interconnect these paths. This gave me the incredible opportunity to work with TRIUMF, Canada's particle accelerator centre who use isotope science and innovation to diagnose and treat disease, which later led me to my current part-time work at A&K Robotics, who transform manual machines into self-driving robots that use AI to help people.
The visual arts and design technology curriculum at DCSZ still continues to make such a big impact on my creative work today. I had some of the most unimaginable and talented instructors who knew the industry standards. Their passion and guidance were so admirable that I actually look forward to one day becoming an IB teacher in arts and design myself!
Why did you decide to pursue art/design at university? Was it a difficult decision?
Though I come from a traditional Indian family where art and design can be frowned upon, my parents were incredibly supportive as they’ve seen me grow up surrounding myself with art all my life.
The only difficulty I had was picking which stream to get into. I had interests in illustration, graphic design, interior design, technology and so much more. I felt like making a single choice at such a young age would limit me from dipping my toes into these diverse fields before finding my true passion.
This is when the career fair at Dulwich helped so much as I met the representatives from Emily Carr University of Art and Design. Emily Carr allows students to take courses in visual arts, design and media arts, while also encouraging a 50-50 ratio between studio and academic courses. I found that this academic structure brought out the best in me so that I could continue developing my interests. In the end, I decided on a degree in Interaction Design, which in my case has to do with web and app design.
How did you enter the field of Graphic Design and Human-Robotics Interaction design?
Going with Interaction Design as my major was a leap of faith. I didn’t know much about what the major meant other than the fact that we would learn how to use and create technologies that could help people. However, even though I majored in interaction design I was still able to take courses in communication design which is what led me to combine the two fields.
During my third and fourth year of university, I enrolled in Emily Carr’s Design for Startups program which pairs emerging designers with early-stage technology startups to work on a specific design problem. This program allowed me to gain industry experience early on, helping me develop my resume and portfolio with real-life projects before heading into the work field.
I knew that I wanted to work for a design agency because that way the projects would keep alternating every few weeks so that I wouldn't get bored from working on just one project for years. It took me about six months of working part-time after graduating to find my full-time job at Sparkjoy Studios, a web development agency in downtown Vancouver. Working here is exactly what I had been looking for since graduating. We’re a small team so I get to wear many hats. Some days I'm doing a lot of project management whereas other days I'm focused solely on design.
Outside Sparkjoy Studios, I still work at A&K Robotics in the evenings. At A&K, my work is based on designing interfaces and illustrations for the robot’s screens. It can be stressful working two jobs through the week, but what keeps me going is the amazing coworkers that I interact with every day. Working with developers, engineers, scientists, artists, and all kinds of clients it's so exciting to me. I learn new things on a daily basis. So even though I call myself a web designer, I still feel as though I'm so much more than that. The ability to share our knowledge and experiences with each other in such detail is exactly why I love the art and design field.
Do you have any words of advice for current students or alumni who are looking to learn/work in a similar field?
My advice to students who wish to pursue a career in art or design would be to diversify their skills and interests early on. At my current full-time job as a Graphic Designer at Sparkjoy Studios, I use skills from interaction design, user experience, user interface, graphic and communication design. Adding to that, a lot of interpersonal and project management skills come in handy when discussing ideas with clients and our team of developers. You’ll be working with all kinds of experts from various fields, so keep an open mind and absorb as much knowledge from them as you can. Additionally, technology is always developing so get ready to constantly keep learning new skills and software. It’s an incredibly fulfilling path that will keep you on your feet and help you grow in so many ways!
We wish Janani all the best for the future. You can find out more about our spotlighted alumni from here:
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