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Designer Spotlight: Shivam Sinha

New York based Designer Shivam Sinha talks about his passion for technology, interning at Apple, and graduating during a pandemic

Illustration: Rosie Barker

Tell us about yourself: Name, age, location, current professional status, etc.

Hi! I’m Shivam Sinha, though I prefer to go by Shiv; I’m 25 and currently based in New York City. I’m a designer at the design and technology company, Work & Co, where I’m helping build great digital tools. Before that, I was at Pentagram working with Emily Oberman and Luke Hayman.

What are the (design or general) topics you’re most passionate about?

There’s so much to choose from, which is coincidentally what I love about design! These days though, I find myself more and more interested in the intersection of design and technology, finding new ways to interact with our tools and devices as the lines between digital and physical are constantly blurred.

Tell us about a project that got you excited lately.

Last year, I continued expanding my skill set by learning 3D animation using Cinema4D. I did this by participating in “36 Days of Type” — though it took me a lot longer than 36 days — I had a lot of fun experimenting and exploring the structure, motion, and materiality of letter forms in a three-dimensional space. This year I wanted to continue pushing this craft and bring 3D interactivity to my website through code. This has been my most ambitious coding project yet — complete with 3D elements, animations, transitions, and subtle micro-interactions. This is still a work in progress but I’m pretty ecstatic about the possibilities.

Tell us about a collaborative project you worked on in the past.

During the summer of 2019, I had the opportunity to intern at Apple as an Interactive Visual Designer. Embedded within a team (or “pod” as Apple likes to call it) of designers, developers, copywriters, and producers, I worked on helping launch macOS Catalina during WWDC 2019. Throughout the summer I also helped redesign and art direct several Mac webpages across for launch later that fall. It was one of my most memorable summers where I got to meet and learn from some of the brightest and most talented designers in the world.

How was your first year after school?

I graduated in 2020, virtually, during the onset of the pandemic. So considering everything I think it was pretty good for me. I landed my first job out of school at Pentagram and had the pleasure of working under the guidance of Emily Oberman and Luke Hayman for clients like Netlifx, Virgin Galactic, Serif, and more. It was a fantastic experience, one where I learned how to diversify my aesthetic tastes and go deeper to understand the vision of the brand.

What's the best advice you've received (and from whom)?

From one of my professors at Parsons, Ashley Stevens: “Be the creator before the critic”. Simple words have helped me create more freely before self-editing. Through that, I’ve learned to see value in a potential solution, which I always try to see through until it doesn’t work. More often than not, this exploration ends up informing the best solutions.

What do you look for in your next job?

A supportive work culture, diverse perspectives, and fluid collaboration between teams. It sounds obvious in theory but in practice, it's hard to achieve. But it makes all the difference. It results in making informed decisions and thus designing the best and most consistent solution for every problem. Going forward, these are things I’ll absolutely be looking for and enquiring about for my next adventure.

Which projects did you decide to put in your portfolio? What was your selection process?

Right now, I have most of my work organized in order of how refined and extensive the projects are. Now that I have more professional work to showcase, I’m looking to reorganize my portfolio based on how proud I am of it and how well it showcases my thinking and problem-solving.

What are you working (personal or professional) on these days?

Currently, I’m busy developing my aforementioned portfolio website. It’s taking up a big chunk of my free time. Outside of that, I’m always looking for ways to learn new skills and hone existing ones. That often means playing with new tools, libraries, and technologies. I also love reading what other designers are writing about — it’s a great way for me to expand my horizons into new ways of thinking and stay informed on the latest industry trends.

What is the most exciting step when you start a new project?

It’s definitely conception. It's the phase before detailed design where you can really go wild and play with any concept, idea, texture, color, typeface, or interaction you want. The possibilities are endless. A successful conception phase always translates into a smoother detailed design phase where you tackle all the minute details of designing an interface.

What book had the biggest impact on you, and why?

Not sure if it had the biggest impact on me, but one book that I’ve found profoundly interesting is The Politics of Design by Ruben Pater. With the rise of design and it's taking an evermore prominent role in our daily lives. Without going too much into it, it does a great job of breaking down the responsibility designers and visual communicators now have in our hyperconnected world. It does a good job of examining cultural contexts and stereotypes while demonstrating that visual communication is never apolitical. I think it’s an important read for any designer.


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