Mastering Mediocrity: Exploring art and design thinking

The fifth episode of Mastering Mediocrity premiered on 19 October 2020 featuring graphic designer and illustrator Akila Weerasinghe. Here are a few memorable moments from our conversation with Akila on Mastering Mediocrity.


  1. Grasping the software doesn’t necessarily make you a good graphic designer


A key issue the design industry faces is the lack of inspiration and knack for creative thinking. In order to survive in this environment, it is vital that each person is proficient in their ability to think outside the box. Unfortunately, it was eminent that many of the institutes teach their students how to use the tool and not how to think creatively. This has created a rather unoriginal group of peers within this industry. They also mentioned how the demand for graphic designers increased exponentially during the Covid-19 pandemic with everyone having to switch to virtual meetings, etc. to carry on with their businesses. This demand, in turn, increased the number of persons learning the basics of software such as Adobe Photoshop to earn some extra money. Amidst all this chaos, the professionals of the industry observed a downfall in the unique essence of graphic designing and everything it holds on to.


  1. Learning something new every day: How important is it?


The phrase “every day is a chance to learn something new” can be primarily applied to any growing industry which evolves on a day-to-day basis. The duo believes that working is more about the learning experience than what we accomplish. Akila mentioned how he feels satisfied in his job only if he acquires more knowledge on the particular area constantly. He believes that one needs to experience benefits in proportion to the energy they put into their work. It has become the case that people are tiring themselves to meet deadlines to an extent that they do not pay heed to whether it is beneficial for them other than from a monetary point of view. People need to work towards defining themselves through their unique set of skills rather than who they work for. It was saddening to see how many individuals are stuck in the same position, unsatisfied with their job roles, and it took a global pandemic for them to start exploring various other fields to find their true passion.


  1.   Commercial advertising and storytelling


Documentary storytelling has always been Zeeshan’s forte, which eventually got him into the sector of commercial advertising. They discussed how it’s mostly about the client’s approach towards the product and how they wanted it marketed to the public. Rather than the everyday explanation on why potential customers need to buy their merchandise, this duo behind the camera takes a shot at giving us viewers an entire movie in under two minutes. Whilst we see changes in trends from various sectors on a daily basis, Akila can’t wait until Sri Lanka deviates from the traditional methods of advertisement banners to more illustrative designs, taking us back to the early 80s and 90s.

All in all, this episode gave us a sneak peek into the expectations within the graphic design industry, the prominence of learning whilst at the job, and how nothing will make us happier than turning our passions into our professions.


Episode transcribed by Amani Najumudeen

Watch the episode here: