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A 3-month internship revisited in her own words.

My Experience Somewhere Else: ANANYA

©Somewhere Else
“BRANDING for NOOBS'' — read a pink button in the bottom left corner of the website for “Somewhere Else”, an eccentric-sounding brand consultancy I chanced upon on Instagram that day. I spent the next forty-five minutes reading and taking notes from the very comprehensive branding starter kit. Half-way through, I thought to myself — “If a simple journal on the website is so fascinating to me, imagine the amount I would learn at an internship at Somewhere Else”.

And so just over a month later, I arrived at my first day at Somewhere Else. American TV shows had pretty much convinced me that as an intern, you get the mundane and monotonous tasks — things other people avoid doing. However, the first thing I was asked at Somewhere Else, much to my surprise was what I wanted to do. Eager to know EVERYTHING, I listed my interests in research and strategy as well as my wish to improve in visuals and graphics. That, and so much more in the past 3 months — I hope I can do my incredible experience justice through this piece of writing!

Exploring generative graphics on p5.js for a nightclub.
In these 3 months, I contributed to a number of commercial projects in small ways — from generative art, emblem design, packaging, visual audit and landscape research — to also exploring writing and graphic design with Instagram posts. Beyond the tasks assigned, I learnt more about branding and strategy in a very holistic way with weekly branding workshops and a final self-initiated branding project called Project X.

One of the first client projects I worked on was creating generative graphics for the identity for a nightclub. Using creative coding for graphics was something new for all of us and this gave me the chance to improve my skill in it while grasping the significance of a central meaning. Yong, the creative director, shared a lot of knowledge about the process of exploration and not limiting yourself during this stage to your current skills.

My longest yet incredibly enjoyable project was an emblem design. This project included a number of iterations, exploring meaning and form and most importantly — the technique of branching out with ideas when creating an original form. This project exposed me to the real-life back and forth of understanding the client and prioritising their business and balancing it with design. I also had opportunities to observe a few client meetings and presentations as well, getting a first hand experience of the interpersonal skills required in the field.

Monogram explorations for a tea company.
The Branding workshop series by my supervisor Danielle was my first real immersion into the process of branding — looking at branding in a much wider sense than a cool visual identity. Weekly presentation decks along with activities completely transformed my grasp of branding. This workshop concluded with creating a creative brief for myself and creating visual moodboard directions for it. Although I was not satisfied with my outcome, the feedback and critique provided by the team was invaluable — understanding the nitty-gritties and loopholes in my concept. It pushed me to think macro and micro at the same time.

Safe to say that the branding deck was not my last roadblock. My biggest design challenge came with the Instagram posts and how I could visualise ideas in an unconventional way — understanding finesse and typography as I went about it. Saying that it took several iterations and weeks would be an understatement, but with this tough project came an immense amount of learning and lessons, that reflected in comparing my first and final drafts.

Iterations for Instagram Post.
For me, this internship in branding was significant not just about learning design, but a wider view of it including strategy, research and audits. Working on a visual audit and landscape research for some projects helped me recognise problems and suggest solutions. It changed my perspective about strategy and design to essentially being problem solving for the end-user. The final identity would then stem from the problems with a focus on solving it. Multiple opportunities to work on landscape research and analysis for brands also made me think about the importance of differentiation and creating personas for your customers to be able to solve their problems.

Moving on to my favourite part of the internship — Project X is an ongoing series of speculative regenerative branding projects by the Somewhere Else team. Every intern works on such a brief with support and feedback from the entire team. Real life branding projects run for months on end and I would not be able to see any through and through. Project X gave me the chance to do this in exactly 6 weeks from ideation, strategy to execution. 

Research and Ideation for Project X.
I was rather intimidated by Project X initially but with every client project I assisted with, I was able to apply those learnings to my brief. I realised how interdisciplinary the entire concept of branding is. This entire project gave me the opportunity to work on themes I was interested in and at the same time explore the things that I had not done before with regard to colours, typefaces and drawing custom type. I did end up improving my skill in layouts, collaterals and mockups. Every Monday, I shared my research and development with the entire team, and got constructive feedback on my progress — advice and thought-processes that I could apply even beyond this project.

Visual moodboard for Project X.

My final brief aimed at creating a space of acceptance and community for foreign migrant workers in Singapore, using the arts to do so. I came up with Motif — a speculative record label for musically-inclined migrant workers in Singapore that fosters their well-being through collaboration and brotherhood. What was the most important thing I learnt was thinking about my audience, even beyond my client and my ultimate objective on every step. Would it resonate with them? Would it make it simpler and more fun for them? Would they see themselves in it? I navigated the design while answering these questions. This way of thinking is something I picked up at Somewhere Else and was probably my most valuable learning experience.

Work and design aside, some of my most treasured inspirations and advice came from the Somewhere Else team. Our weekly Work in Progress meetings saw everyone gather to solve problems together, discussions and valued feedback that often ended up with the most wonderful off-beat solutions. Not a single dull moment — our lunch time banter included everything from films, music and food, to personal and professional motivations. Yong also regularly shared some design related books from his vast personal collection — notes and bookmarks from which I will be using in my future projects!

Looking back, I had the most wonderful internship experience at Somewhere Else. I’m incredibly grateful to Yong and Danielle for taking me on board for the 3-months, being patient with every confusion and question. The most genuine and amazing Somewhere Else team for always encouraging me and making me feel accepted and also the warm team at LAANK for making me a part of your fun lunch and tea-times!

To any students out there reading this,
I read somewhere that “the most learning happens when you go for positions you don't think you deserve.” I doubted myself multiple times as I hit one roadblock after another — often sitting and staring at my laptop for hours. However, that happened every time I worked on something new and the amount of things I ended up learning with that particular project was immense and I could not be more grateful for it. Yong and Danielle as the most incredible and inspiring mentors helped me push boundaries, but at the same time encouraged me and reminded me that it was a learning experience. I can proudly say I am not a “noob” in branding anymore, rather looking forward to learning even more. I would not have it any other way!

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