We were lucky to catch up with Chandan Mahimkar recently and have shared our conversation below.
Chandan, thanks for taking the time to share your stories with us today Who is your hero and why? What lessons have you learned from them and how have they influenced your journey?
My real-life hero is my father, late Shri Kishor Mahimkar. A gentle and caring human, who had a very strong creative side to him. This helped me since my childhood and eventually shaped me as a creative person. His was a draughtsman by profession and would also do freelance for his few architect friends. That later helped him do interior design projects of his own. Earlier at his job at Gabriel India, he would very skilfully draw mechanical drawings of machines and shock absorbers. The detailing in these drawings were insane and I would be amazed to get a glimpse of his working style when he would sometimes bring work home during weekends.
His work ethic and discipline were extraordinary, and as a kid I thought that was how everyone worked. He would also sketch furniture on tracing sheets, that is something I started implementing since I started to do lettering in my art school, it helps me on improving my drafts till today.
His side hustles in interior designs projects and furniture design taught me the importance of passion. All of his characteristics and artistic personality has strongly shaped me as a creative person and designer. His tools, books, ethics & work process are a valuable part of my life and will remain so forever.
Great, appreciate you sharing that with us. Before we ask you to share more of your insights, can you take a moment to introduce yourself and how you got to where you are today to our readers?
I am a multi-disciplinary designer, creative director, typographer, letterer, educator & writer. Did my B.F.A from Mumbai University and joined the advertising industry working for Indian ad agencies like Cosmos, FCB-Ulka, Grey Worlwide and DDB Mudra conceptualising ad campaigns for automobile, finance, telecom and food brands like Tata Indica, Kotak Mahindra, BPL Mobile and Amul. I was Chief Creative Officer at Law & Kenneth which later became L&K Saatchi & Saatchi, where I worked for over a decade. I also founded their design division creating identities and packaging design for some of the most noted brands and companies in India like Hero Group, ITC Personal Care, Go-Air, RPSG, Saregama Music, Sterling Holidays, Reliance Retail, Bombay Dyeing to name a few. Since 5 years I run my own design studio in Mumbai (www.mahimkar.com), working on Indian & international projects. What I love is lettering, custom typography, branding and space design. Having co-created some of the most raved bars and restaurants in Mumbai and Pune. As a typographer & lettering artist I use the power of messaging and timeless letterforms in my work. Some of my lettering work has been featured by Design Sponge, Design Milk, AIGA, The Washington Post, Levi’s, Iamsterdam, Passion Passport, Paris Je T’aime and Project Van Life. And my hand lettering work is published in US (Goodtype) and Australia (Typism).
I teach typography at Ecole Intuit Lab, Mumbai (a renowned French educational institute of graphic design and visual communication). I have taught and mentored over 500 designers and creatives from India, as well as around the world through my workshops, webinars, lectures and portfolio reviews.
Writing is one of my passions, I am a writing contributor at www.travelpurist.com. where I share my travel stories. Would love you to checkout my blog https://www.mahimkar.com/blog.
How about pivoting – can you share the story of a time you’ve had to pivot?
Spending over 20 years in advertising was a fabulous experience. Working on large ad campaigns, leading a large team gave me a high. Later creating a design division for L&K Saatchi & Saatchi and running it for 8 years was a great learning experience. Parallelly I was also putting time to explore my lettering skills and also using it for my design projects at L&K. It created a strong likability amongst my agency clients. I also visited the Cannes festival of creativity in 2013 and realised that many thought leaders/renowned agency heads were building something of their own rather than working for network agencies. It took me 5 years from that moment to move out of advertising and build something of my own. Looking back, it had a huge impact on my career.
How did you build your audience on social media?
Exploring lettering, sharing my process on Instagram started as a way to document my passion. Curators like The Daily Type & Goodtype were contacting me via email and asking my permission to share my work. That was such a huge surprise in the early days when lettering was just picking up on IG. I started to post a new lettering piece every Sunday since end of 2014 on #letteringonsunday. I would be very busy with L&K the whole working week, so Sunday afternoons would be ideal to practice my hand lettering. A lot many lettering pieces were created by the end of 2016, it became a resource for many of my followers and also my process sharing tips helped them to practice lettering on their own. Offers from Design Sponge and Project Van Life to do a Collab were some of the very initial commissioned work that I did as a result of my Instagram feed. However I never really relied on Instagram for work as I was already working on design projects for my clients. My lettering on Instagram was an honest approach to share lettering styles that I loved to create and share my process. My travel photography helped me create visual content very different from lettering. Passion Passport on instagram sharing my travel images was really encouraging. All of this helped me write travel stories with my own images. On social media one can showcase their niche ‘consistently’ and have fun sharing their creative journey. There is absolutely no reason to copy anyone. You are an original.
Collabs are a great tool to grow one’s audience. For younger creatives responding to prompts by large curator accounts is the best way to get noticed. Practice to improve your work, let people see the growth in you as an artist/creative, they identify with that and it motivates them.