Friday, January 29, 2010

my long history

I discovered some very old designs from my Satellite days in SBC youth. If you're wondering what Satellite is, it is a magazine that my friend Jeremy Marak and I started in 2004 September October for our church youth department. That was the time when I first sighted Hillsong United More Than Life album. I was completely spell bound by their cover art and their design.

I had NO IDEA I had just stumbled upon a piece that would literally change my life and my road that leads down to where I am now. That crucial piece of art on a music album from Sydney, Australia.

Well, how it impacted me is hard to over-emphasize. I couldn't stop looking at the design and all the people that were featured in the cover. How the colour blue painted in the background held my gaze and how the people (probably photoshopped) stood out in a giant massive structure, completely made up of photos of people and random stuffs like signboards, flag of Australia, kangaroo and so on.

I tell you, for me then, it was life changing.

I wanted to do something like that. I wanted to do it right away. Right then.

I need to remind myself that I had never ever heard the term 'graphic design'. It was told to me maybe a year later or maybe even two years later that there is such a job for artists called 'graphic design' where you design packaging for toothpaste and food and so on. My uncle said, its a great fun job.

Packaging for toothpaste?

I didn't think so.

That's how I never took graphic design as my major interest. My first image of it was foiled. I always see bubbly blue water on the packaging for Close-Up toothpaste when you mention the word 'graphic design'. Til now I have to force myself to think otherwise.

Oh anyway, I immediately wanted to do what the guys in Hillsong United were doing. Ok, we had a youth branch of church, yes. But we didn't have any music album so that I could design the cover. So Jeremy and I came up with a youth magazine. And it would be called 'Satellite', because when we were deciding to do this, Jeremy was listening to the song 'Satellite' by POD. I didn't object, though the song isn't my most liked song (it's only ok).

I didn't know photoshop at that time. I had never even thought of designing a magazine that time. The only program I knew on computer was Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Paint.

These three I put into use to design the first edition of Satellite. September October 2005.

You can say it was the most indie magazine I ever did (or maybe will ever do again). I did it completely for the love of it. I had no idea about the rules of magazine. I only observed how the paging runs on a magazine and some basic structure from magazines I look at from time to time.

I remember I went to Aunty Shilula Imchen at their office at Lydia House (a girl's hostel by the way, the hot spot for well behaved pretty Christian girls I have to say, now that I think about it...) and used their computer printer. The printer at my home was just a dot matrix printer, that could only just print word and type readably. Then after getting the original printed manuscript, I went to Police Bazaar and met uncle Leesen, who is a Chinese immigrant who owns a bar and does carbon printing for side business. He looked at the margin and printing area of the whole manuscript. I kept my fingers crossed. I didn't bother myself about details and technicalities. What if it went beyond printing area? WHat if the contrast wasn't good enough for carbon copying?

It went ok. The quality was just ok. But I was not very worried about it. Our first magazine was out. And I was off to design the new one again. Madam Machun (my teacher, much later, for Video Production in college) said she liked the graphics.

I warmed up. No one gave the heck about graphics in Shillong then. Readability, clarity, print quality and no controversies in what the youth have written were all that the readers cared for.

But then I think Satellite took off pretty well. It atleast inspired little other responses from other youth departments from other churches. I think some people realised that design can be used on boring newsletters.

And what the heck was Satellite? It was not a magazine. It was not a newsletter. It was not a journal. It was not a promotional. It was just Satellite.

Satellite did popularly in St.Anthony's College, my alma mater. Sometimes I see college kids sitting on the basketball courts tucked with a copy of our magazine. I even once overheard a conversation sparked by an article from Satellite, about the existence of God as proven by the existence of darkness. I also hear of Satellite being pretty popular in St.Edmund's College, where Thiu, my twin (and my younger brother) went to (and go to). And those two are arguably the best colleges in Shillong probably one of the best in North East India.

Sirion Diaries also got to the public through Satellite. Though the stories all smell of Christian influence, I rediscovered some of them and i have to say I enjoyed finding them again.

Clearly those were one of my glory days when it came to creativity. I sometimes would sit all night at our creaking computer doing hard out designing on it, and my father would pop into the sitting room (where the comp was) and ask me sleepily to go to sleep. My parents would always ask me not to worry or not to work too hard on it. Maybe they were thinking my efforts were not being appreciated too much. Or maybe they were thinking I was doing too much and I didn't have to. I knew. I just wanted to do it.

The rest came along. Photoshop. St.Anthony's Mass Media, my friends, graphic design, D&A and eventually what I am now, whether I am good or not. And soon I will be a professional graphic designer. I need to question and remind myself again and again to keep the first love for creativity alive. Maybe I have learnt too much rules already and I need to find something new to jump into again.

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