Women Who Work: Creative and Art Director, Abhilasha Sinha
Abhilasha Sinha proves that you can have a great job being as creative as possible by paving her own way to become a “visual storyteller”. She’s been a creative for 12 years now and is sharing her story of success in creating her own role that she loves.
How did you make the leap to your current role? I was working with a big agency for 6 years. I wanted to have the flexibility to choose my own clients and work on the projects that made me excited. Besides that, I have wanted to give more time to my side projects. This made me work on my own.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? I was very good in art since childhood. I participated in tons of art competitions and I won a lot of awards. I was called the Steffi Graff of painting in my town. I was featured in the local newspaper and I was interviewed on a local TV show (where they interviewed me). All this was happening around the age of 8-9. I knew that I wanted to get into the field of art but I had no clue what exactly I wanted to do.
What was your first job ever? Did it help you in your current role? My first job ever was assisting a renowned fashion photographer in Mumbai, India. My job spanned from getting coffee for the Bollywood stars and models to setting up lights before the photo shoot. I learned a lot at this job. Yes, it has been very helpful in my current role and for my tenure as an art director. Creating videos and choosing photographs are an important part of my job. Because of my first job, I love art directing photo shoots and films.
What made you want to start your business (or side hustle)? What or who inspired you to do so? When I was working full-time with an advertising agency, I wanted to do more. I co-founded Thread Channel http://www.thread-channel.com/. Our next step at that time was launching an app. That motivated me to be on my own. We launched Thread Channel app in Jan of 2016. Thread channel is my side hustle. I also started an art project called, Tiny Wins https://www.tiny-wins.net/. I am doing a solo show in NYC on August 31st. My main job is being a senior creative in advertising and design field. My clients include Fortune 500 companies, advertising agencies, and start-ups.
What does your job entail? How do you explain what you do to others? This is how I describe my job to others: All the websites people look at, TV Commercials they see or any mobile app that they use has been designed by an Art Director/graphic designer. Good design has become more important than ever. I help companies and individuals to communicate their stories by using good design. Working independently comes with wearing a lot of different hats. Besides being an art director, I am a client director, a project manager, a producer, a researcher and a strategist.
How long have you been doing this? I have been a creative for almost 12 years now.
What is a day for you like? What is your routine? As it is summer, I start my day by going for a swim. Currently, I have an on-site project in an advertising agency. I am at work till 6pm. I get back home, take a break for 30-45 min and then I am working on my other client projects and my side hustle. I am always busy. I always have my Laptop on me.
How do you end your workday? Before going to bed, I have to do a 20-minute meditation. This helps me unwind and preps me for a good sleep.
How did you go about starting your business (or side hustle)? What were some of your initial steps that you took? After working for advertising agencies for 8 years in New York City, I decided to freelance. I always wanted to go on my own and explore my creative freedom. I had to be cautious about having enough contacts in the industry and confident about getting regular work as I knew there will no longer be fortnightly checks. Here are my few first steps:
Network: I reached out to my professional and personal network. I spread the word that I am looking for independent projects, freelance jobs. It’s also a good idea to reach out to recruiters as they know of open positions.
Contracts: Making contract should be the first step. Before, taking on a project it is very important to get the terms and conditions finalized with your client. It protects the freelancer from getting paid on time and getting paid for the work promised to be delivered.
Organizing: This includes making an excel sheet for projects, deliverables and payments. When a lot of projects are going on at the same time, it can be easy to forget things. Freelancing means overseeing yourself and your business and being organized goes a long way.
What are your biggest responsibilities as an entrepreneur/freelancer?
My biggest responsibilities include coming up with the overarching messaging for a product or a campaign. Once, that is done, I take that messaging and transform it into a creative expression or look and feel. A lot many times, I land up designing websites, apps, ads etc… There are times when I have art directors and designer whose work I oversee.
What has been the hardest part of your transition?
Managing time can be tough. I land up working with different clients at a given time. Many times their deadline coincides around the same time. When I am busy, I am crazy busy. I land up having 17-18 hours’ day.
What has been the easiest part of your transition?
I love my creative freedom. For most of my projects, I am the direct contact to my client. It saves a lot of time. I send them creative solutions which I feel is right for them. Our back and forth communication is way shorter than I have experienced in my previous jobs.
What keeps you motivated?
I start my day by looking at great work. Be it interior design or fashion design, anything and everything inspires me and motivates me to create outstanding work.
How do you define success now?
When you define your milestones and you reach it. That is success. It takes a lot of hard work, passion, and commitment.
How do you prevent burnout?
By listening to music and going for a good run.
What do you think is the most important characteristic to have for someone who wants to take a similar career route to yours?
What do you wish you knew before starting out on your own path?
I wish I knew how much I need to network and meet people before getting a project. I constantly keep doing that because I don’t want a slow moment.
Did anyone help you in developing your own business or side business?
Not for my business. For Thread Channel, I land up working with my co-founders in Silicon Valley.
Do you have a work idol? Is there a working woman or man out there that you admire?
I love Ji Lee’s work. He is a communication designer. I heard his talk a few years ago. He spoke about the power of personal projects. I was so motivated by his talk that I started this yet another side project called
). This personal project of mine has grown tremendously. I am doing an independent art show for this in New York on August 31
What is your favorite thing about the industry you work in?
Working in this industry is like being an actor. I land up communicating for fashion companies, financial companies, technology companies and so on. I am learning so much through my job and there is no dull moment.
What are some tools that you can live without?
Photoshop, Sketch, and Indesign for design, and Instagram.
What do you have on your desk or working space right now?
My phone, Sketch book, and Chamomile Tea.
What do you want other women in similar situations to know about your chosen career path?
Work should not be boring. A little bit of freedom is important to enjoy what you do. I love the fact that I have options. I choose my projects and my timeline. I can go on a break anytime. Since the time I started freelancing, I have not experienced Monday Morning Blues.
Do you have any other additional key points that you think would be beneficial to readers? Please notate them below!
Always listen to your intuition. It will guide you towards your dream job.
Keep trying. Failure is a part of success. Being persistent is very important.
Keep up with the trends. Being in advertising and design field you can’t get outdated.
Thanks again Abhilasha! Be sure to follow her on