“How to tell a shattered story?”
“By slowly becoming everybody?”
“By slowly becoming everything”
I always wanted to use these lines in my writing. I have taken them from the back cover of the book “The Ministry of Utmost Happiness”.
I am a designer. A lot of people think that design is a tool and to be a designer is uber cool. Can’t blame them, because the design is, indeed, a tool. A tool to solve problems and give power to unheard voices.
Quite similar to a story. It can make you weave a dream which is far better than reality, it can change people’s lives (for good or worse), it can change the perception of how we look at a brand/website.
I always try to feel these emotions before I jump-start with the design process.
However, a while ago, I felt as if my cup of emotions started drying up. Just like writer’s block is for storytellers, I started facing my share of creative limitations. Nothing seemed to flow. I can not say if it was the monotony at work or increased workload, but when I shared it with my team, all of us felt that we need to spend some time outside of work.
I often read a lot about how great designers derive their inspiration from nature. I tried to find that intrinsic inspiration by reading about it online, but nothing seemed to work. So this time, I decided to ditch the old friend, Inspiration Overload, and get some highs to create some original, beautiful, nature-inspired design.
So along with my team, we decided to get out from our comfort zone. We unanimously decided upon a trip to the mountains. But there was a deal- we would do it without any hotel bookings, car rentals, or itinerary.
The plan was to reset and disconnect from work life and spend a day in the mountains.
The onset of flashbacks
When I was a child, I liked to sketch. I was the creative kid of the house. I pursued hobbies which looked exciting. I was fascinated by the things around me. But then, life happened.
I started looking at things, strategically. I started weighing my options- Will this help me at my craft? Is this really required? What if this comes out to be a waste of time?
Pablo Picasso said that-
“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”
And here’s what I want to say-
Growing up is tough. What’s even tougher is combining your passion with work. But it’s nothing that can’t be dealt with.
As grown-ups, the first thing that we do is stop giving time to our hobbies. And that takes away the originality of our craft. The more things we see and do, the more we feel fulfilled and satisfied.
All of this was going through my mind while we were driving through the twists and turns on the mountain road. As we moved away from the chaos of New Delhi, the clouds started to appear more clear, more distinct, more blue.
Falling in love with nature’s color palette
If you ask me what’s the favorite part of my job, it wouldn’t take me more than half a second to say- COLORS. It’s not just the love for the usual color band, I find the emeralds, the blues, and violets equally fascinating.
On our way to Rishikesh, we happened to cross a field which had multitudes of colors. I found the hues in the color of sky completely different to what we see in the city. I realized that flowers are not just pretty objects of ornamentation, but also great sources of colors.
To my surprise, even the lifeless brown twigs looked beautiful with shades of yellow and green.
And the dreaded red color which designers run away from (red is for danger) is nature’s favorite!
I always have trouble thinking about which color would go with pink. I found my answer the moment I spotted this lotus. It’s surprising how we close our eyes towards nature when it has an answer to our every question.
The bonfire night, stars and moon
Tired after long travel, we quickly had our fill and gathered around the campfire. Our camping site was by the riverside. So we had ample amount of peace. Amidst the moon and stars, our conversations began.
We talked about movies which inspired us or experiences which rattled us. We talked about hobbies that made us or sacrifices that were needless. The only strict code was- we were not allowed to talk about work. The photographers among us were excited to show their skills. So they clicked a lot of pictures. Here’s a sneak peek into their LaLa land.
We talked about how exciting the day has been in terms of creativity. Everyone agreed that opening up to nature is the best way to stay inspired.
We realized it was 3.30 am when a few people started yawning. So we called the day off and went to sleep* in our tents.
*with terrible voices of sneezing and snorting
The next morning
We woke up early with the sound of birds chirping and the sun shining brightly on our faces through crevices of our tent. After a long time, I closed my alarm with open eyes.
Once again we decided to ditch the usual. So no adventure sports, no trekking. The unanimous vote went in favor a for a walk in the forest.
And once we entered the forest, everyone discovered their own spot to sit quietly. The peaceful environment engulfed us. Except for the faint murmur of insects and the rustling of leaves, there was nothing that could distract us. I realized that silence is rare and expensive.
We sat there for hours and I am not kidding. It was hours without uttering even a single word. Everyone was silent and into their own world.
Thinking. Reminiscing. Immersing into the beauty of nature.
No mobiles. No internet connectivity.
Mangesh was listening to classical music.
Nilanjan was looking at the natural marble formation.
I picked my book and started sketching.
And kept sketching….for as long as it made me happy!
A rewarding investment
Going to nature is like going to your roots. It’s where you find solace and solutions to your problems. Although I travel frequently for leisure, it is only this time that I realized traveling can be rewarding when you need to declutter your mind.
I have the mental clarity, the walls have come down and I am confident that this is just the beginning.
I hope you don’t envy me because I have a natural color palette now. It’s from my own experiences and not inspired by others. Now when I have to work on Android applications or website designs, I will use my personal color palette to make them look unique.
And oh! By the way, we also spent some time giving wings to our hobbies. Jagriti and I, collected some pebbles to make jewelry. And here’s the sketch which makes me smile every time I look at it-
Go on now! Make your own color palette.
And oh! BTW, here one picture which we managed together.
Picture credits: Our team