Mentors, Inspiration and the Power of Design: A Reflection

Design student Priya Rajan was one of the 2007 TRTMSTATBGDSTAUHC recipients and was recognized at the 2007 HOW Design Conference. Here’s her winning essay:


Who are your mentors and what did you learn from them?
A few years back, I happened to meet an old person I would call aiya. He is like my grandpa. He has been a huge part in my life ever since. It was a time when I was so lost and confused. I met him when I had lost someone very close to death and he made me realize that death is a part of life and it’s not the end of everything.

He believed in me more than I did. He has a subtle way of pointing things out to me and letting me decide. No matter what, he is always calm and listens. Once he said that I should not be afraid to think and I can show that in my work. As a person he has helped me grow spiritually and also I am more confident in what I do.

He made me believe in myself and take things easily as it comes. I used to worry for everything around me but now I care but I also learnt not to let it affect me all the time. I can talk to him about anything without being judged. He is my grandpa, a friend and a mentor. He will always have a special place in my heart. I have learnt something very valuable that I will always carry with me—to believe in myself and be compassionate.

What drives your passion and inspires your creativity?
I am passionate about people and history—what happened before, how they lived and what they did. With design, I can learn about anything I want. A huge part of design is research and it is very exciting to learn about something new each time. The complexity of our minds and problems inspires my creativity and keeps me trying harder.

How do you think graphic design affects people’s lives?
Design is communication. Whatever media or form we choose, eventually it all has a message. If used effectively, design can contribute to understanding national phenomena. It can make a difference in people’s lives, possibly create awareness and a solution. If there is genocide in Rwanda, it doesn’t mean it happens in another universe. Design can bring the problems close to people’s hearts. It is all in communication. It can help communicate better to cultures that are opposite to ours, open up conversation.