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Designing in Bangalore: Activity Book Illustrations

22 Jun

One of the most enjoyable projects I worked on when volunteering at Janaagraha was creating illustrations for a student activity book for the Bala Janaagraha campaign. The book is a support resource for Janaagraha’a civic education program which is responsible for a specially created curriculum being delivered by volunteers to over 15,000 primary school students in Bangalore every year.
Here is a little peek at some of the illustrations I created!

These little kid characters were created for a recurring exercise where students have to write down their opinions and ideas on nominated topics.

This activity requires students to match up correct pieces of information.

I created this infographic to illustrate the levels of governance in India, right from the citizen to national government.

This graphic was a fun way to deliver a story piece in an illustrative format.


I also created a series of graphics for recurring headings throughout the book; it was pure fun creating these.

 This was definitely one of my favourite projects I’ve worked on and I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to be involved thanks to my volunteer position. I only wish I had been there longer to work on more of the book, but alas! You can only fit so much into ten weeks (I’m learning to accept the limitations of time!)


Designing in Bangalore: Projects Galore!

22 Jun
Although it is almost two months ago that I finished my internship at the Bangalore based NGO, Janaagraha, I want to share some of the project work I did there – I figure better late than never! 
It was an extremely busy ten weeks spent volunteering in the Communication Department but I had an absolute blast working on a diverse range of projects with a great group of people. I really enjoyed the work I did and am proud of what I was able to contribute. Here is a snapshot of some of the finished artwork.
I designed this logo for the 2011 India Urban Conference of which the Janaagraha Applied Research Programme is co-organising. It was an interesting experience as the brief and approval was done by committee with a number of involved parties including external organisations, but it challenged me to consider multiple priorities and package a large message into a single graphic: the geographical focus, the academic angle and the urban theme. I presented three concepts tying these three aspects together, with an emphasis on connectivity. The final logo was eventually agreed on by all (a concept with urban icons connected together in the shape of India) but the two runner-up logos also received a few votes:


Another logo I completed was for the Bribe Bandh campaign organised by Janaagraha’s I Paid a Bribe program. The online petition campaign aimed to collect one million names to put pressure on the Indian government to ratify the UN Convention Against Corruption.

The name Bribe Bandh combines two powerful words: Bribe identifies the form of corruption most rife in India and Bandh is a Hindi word that originally means ‘closed’ but is also the name for a form of protest in the way of a general strike by a community.

The logo needed to be bold and inspire action, and convey the severity of the issue as well as incite a sense of responsibility in the viewer. The final logo took the form of a strike slashed across the A, winning out over the other options which included a mouse cursor arrow and a mouse click hand icon that pointed to the word bribery:



I also designed a layout for the campaign’s webpage on the IPAB site; ensuring a strong visual call to action and a simple sign up procedure to engage viewers and get the required results:


 Another favourite project (well… maybe they were all favourites!) was my very first project at Janaagraha which had a very tight deadline, resulting in the concept being pitched and approved and the artwork completed within my first week. It was an ideal way to plunge straight into the brand of Janaagraha as well as learn a lot about one of it’s most aggressive and successful campaigns – the anti-corruption website-based I Paid a Bribe. The process was also a wonderful introduction to collaborating with some of Janaagraha’s passionate high-achievers, it was a dynamic and satisfying project to be involved with.

The printed piece was a sign of the campaign’s success. Having gathered statistics that awarded the Bangalore Transport Department the number one corrupt department in India, the I Paid a Bribe campaign lobbied them to address the issue. The Minister for Transport got on board and requested a public education campaign through the Transport Department offices. A brochure explaining citizen rights and expectations of motor authority functions was commissioned, to be printed by the department itself and distributed through the offices, along with prominent posters proclaiming anti-bribe support. This was a huge step forward in the campaign and I was thrilled to be involved in designing the public information brochure.

It was an interesting experience as it was the first time I had designed a printed piece that would incorporate two languages – I designed a folding format with an English side and a Kannada side. I conceptualised the theme of bribery entwined with the process of accessing motor rights in India, creating a graphic which was a custom tyre mark made with the Indian Rupee symbol. I also focused on creating clean, streamlined flow charts as there was a lot of procedural information to communicate without scaring the reader away. I was really happy with the end product as was the internal team and the representatives from the motor authority who were presented with the brochure by the IPAB team.

 Another project that I spent a significant amount of time working on was for the Me and My City school student activity book. I have some illustrations to showcase from this project but they’ll follow in another post.

Back to Work

25 Feb

Janaagraha logo

The point of my extended stay in Bangalore is a ten week internship at Janaagraha, Centre for Democracy and Citizenship. I arranged this through the Youth Challenge Australia program in Sydney, though volunteers are welcome to approach them directly and are always needed.

Janaagraha was founded in 2001 as a movement to enable citizen participation in public governance. Its mission is to change the quality of life in urban India by improving governance and encouraging citizens to participate in civic issues.

Be the change

You're asked to make a choice everytime you get out of the elevator at the Janaagraha office and see this sign reminding you of Janaagraha's philosophy.

I’m interning in the Communication Department with a lovely group of people; Disha is the Communication Manager, Rashmi is the Communications Assistant, Pradyumma is the in-house Graphic Designer and Raisin provides Audio Visual support. I’ve had a very warm welcome to the team and they have PLENTY of work to share with me. I have a lot of opportunities to get involved with different projects and they are already stacking up, both print and web work.

The department works in a support capacity for all the various campaigns projects at Janaagraha. Some of these and the work I’m doing, are:

‘I Paid a Bribe’

The mission of this campaign is to ‘uncover the market price of corruption’ by giving citizens a voice against bribery in government departments, a significant problem in India and one that every Indian has had to deal with at some point. There is a website set up where citizens can anonymously report a bribe they have paid, or a bribe request they resisted, with details of where, how much and why. No names are given as the focus is not on identification or reprimanding. The campaign collects statistics to present to the government departments involved, with the aim of working with them to identify and change the processes that enable this system to continue.

The campaign is only about 9 months old but already they have had a breakthrough with the Transport Department willing to tackle the rather dismal reflection of bribes paid at the motor registries. I have just finished the artwork for a brochure that will be distributed at motor registries to inform citizens of their rights, how to respond to bribe requests, and the options they have to deal with it. It was a really interesting project both design and content wise, and one that will hopefully have quite an impact in disrupting the bribery cycle.

Bala Janaagraha

This campaign is a citizenship education programme that is aimed at empowering young Indians with the knowledge of their rights and responsibilities as citizens in a democracy. The programme educates children in the classroom on how government and societies work, and encourages them to use their voice to improve their community. The curriculum is taught by Janaagraha volunteers and involves identifying local issues and working with the local authorities to get it fixed.

The curriculum is currently being overhauled and I will be responsible for the redesign of the new student resource book. It’s a big project, a 70 page book of activities and information. The creativity potential is unlimited, so I’m really excited to get started.

Janaagraha Applied Research Program (J-ARP)

The Research Programme at Janaagraha is focused on 3 areas – Political and Social Research, Economic Research, and Legal Research. In each of these areas, partnerships are formed with globally recognised institutions, so that the research output can contribute to a greater collective understanding of the particular theme being studied.

J-ARP are one of the organisers of the India Urban Conference: Evidence and Experience, a conference in November 2011 beginning with a 4-day gathering of academics, public and private sector practitioners, students, and citizens in Mysore and will culminate in a session focus on national policy in Delhi.

I will be creating the collateral for the event including invitations, programmes, brochures etc. Event design work is always good fun, so I’m full of ideas already! 


Part of the photo mural in the Janaagraha meeting room.

The experience working in Janaagraha for the past two weeks has been brilliant. The team environment is really dynamic, fuelled by the passion and enthusiasm of the people who work here. The projects are based on a meaningful philosophy and it is a privilege to be here working towards the common goal of improving the quality of life for so many people.

So that’s an introduction to my internship experience so far. No doubt there will be more posts to come about my time here at Janaagraha and the people I work alongside.

 So far, so good!