After a hiatus of quite a bit, we are back with our The Desi Designers feature. Here in The Desi Designers, we interview and profile some of the best artists, designers and other creative professionals from Pakistan.

Our latest personality is all the way from Berlin! Jawad Saleem is a artist/designer/illustrator hailing from Lahore and now working with Ogilvy Berlin.

Here we are in conversation with Jawad as he tells us about his story, his inspiration and his work.

jawad saleem

Who are you and what do you do?

I’m Jawad Saleem, I’m a Visual Communication Designer, and I’m working in the advertising industry.

How did you end up in Berlin?

Ahhhhhhhhhhhh! It’s a long story; I actually never thought that I would become a designer in my life. My father wanted me to become a Chartered Accountant, and I had done my Bachelor’s in Commerce.

I was doing an Internship at the National Bank of Pakistan, it was really tiring and boring. Every day was the same. Then I went Greece to study and at the same time my twin brother was doing his Bachelors in Communication Design from National College of Arts (Lahore), and my best friend Saji also graduated in Communication Design from NCA These people played a very important role in my life. Today I’m here because of these guys.

Right after my Bachelors from NCA (Lahore)- started the worst time period of my life I was extremely disturbed emotionally, and meanwhile I was working in an advertising agency in Lahore. I wanted to run away from myself, and I wanted to get out of this city and this country.

I assimilated all my negative thoughts and negative energy and churned them towards a positive goal. I decided to go for a Master’s Degree, and I was lucky enough to get an acceptance letter at the same time! So here I am in Berlin!

Here in Germany I have done a lot of work, I made Paintings, Drawings, did some Photography and Visual Experiments with different mediums, I really worked hard and did a lot of work. I did what I wanted to do, I traveled around the whole of Europe, attended Design Conferences, participated in Design Awards, visited Museums, saw Art Exhibitions. In these 2 years I tried to explore my potential and myself.

Then of recent I got an internship Ogilvy Berlin. Now I am living and working here in Berlin.

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How are you finding it?

Berlin is the perfect place for designers and artist, as it is famous in Europe for Art and Design. I have traveled almost all of the Europe, but I have never seen any city quite like Berlin. This city has lots of energy. Berliners have perfect attitudes; they are helpful, friendly and fun loving people. Many famous designers and artists live here. I’m sure if you ever come here, you will fall in love with this city. Right now I am having one of the best experiences in my life. These people are extremely talented; they have great music, amazing graffiti, sensational street art, installation art, painting, sculpture, graphics, advertising, and so on… Honestly I have learned a lot from these people, and I really enjoy working here.

How would you compare the design and visual aesthetic of Germany with that of Pakistan?

Aesthetic appreciation has many determinants; ranging from evolutionary, anatomical or physiological constraints, to influences of culture, history and individual differences. So it is really hard to compare them.

Germany is famous for Bauhaus Revolution that changed the perspective of the world about Design and Art, it changed the design world. On the other hand, we have many brilliant Pakistani Designers and Visual artists, who are successfully working in the international market and represent Pakistan in the world.

I think a comparison between Germany and Pakistan, in the context of Design or Visual aesthetics is out of the question. Each has their own roots and social values, they are working and creating design paradigms within their social system and according to their culture; and we are doing what we can within our social system and according to our culture. So, in fair terms we really can’t compare cultures and societies, and remark on them, judging which is good one, and which is not good. Every culture has their own design aesthesis and concept of beauty. But there is one thing you can discuss, the Responsibilities and Ethics of a designer in a society.
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What inspires you?

Inspiration is a feeling that makes you want to be someone or do something. Many people and many things inspire me throughout my life…you can find inspiration in anything, a written word, a kind gesture, something someone said.

Tell us about your personal favorite project(s) of your own?

I did many projects, most of them for commercial work, some of them for Awards and some for myself. I recently just finished my Master’s Thesis and so far it is one of my favorite projects.

I designed a project for the visually impaired as my social responsibility towards the society as a Communication Designer. Every day I interact with beautiful visual libraries, full of colors and shapes, and I felt that there was nothing for the blind people to share in and partake in experiencing the beauty of these visuals. Herein lay the very question and the key Challenge, to address ourselves, as professional Communication Designers  – “How can we create a design which in itself communicates with the blind people, without any outside help?” I designed a strategy on how to develop Cognitive memory in Genetically Blind children with the help of Series of Books with minimal graphics, to aid create a separate kind of visual memory for them.

What’s the best thing about being a creative?

It gives me a sense of satisfaction; to know that something can be achieved successfully, and it gives me the confidence that I can do anything. I enjoy being a part of the creative world.

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Your favorite designers, artists and works?

If you are talking about persons specifically related to my field, then my twin brother has always been a big inspiration for me, then my teachers. As you get more exposure and experience in your life, your inspirations also change time to time. But my all-time favorite designers who inspired me through their works are, Saul Bass, Josef Müller-Brickman, Paul Rand, David Carson, Si Scott and Milton Glaser.

Is a formal training or education in your field important?

I don’t think it is that important, but it is good if you have some knowledge about it.

For example, William Bernbach, founder of world-renowned Advertising Agency, Doyle Dane Bernbach (DDB), the man behind Volkswagen’s “Think Small” and Life Cereal’s “Mikey” campaigns, did not graduate from Design School. In fact, he earned his degree in literature.

Alexey Brodovitch had no formal training as a graphic designer when he emigrated from Russia to Paris to become a painter. He won a poster design competition that earned him public recognition and served as a springboard for an award-winning design career that ultimately had him – ironically – teaching design students.

Is it worth the time and monetary investment?

I think taking the step to enroll and study in any field no matter how small, or how insignificant it may seem, is always worth the investment. Whenever you learn something new, it opens a gateway to so many possibilities.

Tell us about your work habits. Do you like deadlines? Are you easy to work with? Are you self-disciplined?

However, as a Designer it’s our job to tell the client how much time it will take to complete a project, and how much they are expect to pay for the service. When you ask for a deadline, then it’s your responsibility to deliver the project on time. If you are lazy or don’t feel like working, then it not a professional approach and it is you fault not your Clients.

I don’t have any problems with deadlines, as I always try to keep myself organized.

How do you keep yourself energized, motivated and at your productive best?

My work is my hobby, I enjoy it, and I love working in my field, I don’t need any extra force or motivation to do my work.

Your tools of choice? What apps, software and non-digital tools are essential to you?

In my case I prefer to work manually, I mean non-digital – but It depends on the project as well and the demands of your concept and how you want the outcome of the final execution.

Have you noticed any remarkable talent or project in the design/creative field coming out of Pakistan?

I don’t know about projects, right now because I’m out of the Pakistani market so I don’t have any idea about what’s going on there, but for sure, I know so many people who are extremely talented and are far better than me. In front of them, I don’t even consider myself as a designer.

Your ultimate professional dream?

Alhamdulillah! So far I’m satisfied with my life and my professional achievements. I don’t daydream, and I actually never plan my life. I don’t have any ultimate professional dream, Alhamdulillah I’m happy and satisfied, with my life right now.

See more of Jawad’s work here.