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Combining art with science: Sujatha Keshavan Guha
Vicky Nanjappa
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November 19, 2007

She is the first woman in India to obtain a postgraduate degree in Graphic design. Sujatha Keshavan Guha is co-founder and managing director of the reputed firm, Ray+Keshavan, Bangalore, considered India's leading brand identity and design consultants. Working 18 hours every day, she has successfully created an organisation with standards that match the best anywhere in the world.

Sujata has won several awards for her work including the Eastern Press award and the Schikle Collingwood prize for outstanding work in graphic design. She is the only Indian designer to have been twice honoured as Graphic Designer of the Year, in 1992 and 1994, in the all India A&M awards for advertising and design excellence.

Sujatha in an informal chat with's Vicky Nanjappa spoke about her struggles, her dreams and achievements.

Tell us something about yourself.
I graduated from the Yale University School of Art, USA with an MFA (Master of Fine Art) degree in Graphic Design in 1987. Prior to this, I had a degree from the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad. I wanted to combine both art and science and hence in 1989 I set up Ray+ Keshavan in Bangalore.

What exactly does brand consultancy deal with?
We are into brand makeovers. We help our clients build path-breaking brands through the strategic use of design. At Ray+Keshavan, we always look at the complete picture, overall brand positioning, target audience, relevance, function, form, cost and appropriateness of technology. To succeed, however, we believe the end product must have a subliminal appeal. We first take a look at the brand, analyse its characteristics and competition before proceeding with work.

Was it easy since the word go, considering that the industry you are in is relatively new in the country?
No, it was not easy. We had problems initially communicating to people. We had to explain what we did and how it would help them. It is only in the past few years that awareness has been created. I must credit this awareness to technology and its growth. The entry of the MNCs into the market helped us a great deal as they were also looking to raise the bar and standards. This industry is slowly catching up. Although there are not too many persons into it, I am sure that over a period of time, things would change.

Do you feel that you have made it or is there is a long way to go still?
There is still a long way to go. But I also do feel that I have achieved quite a lot in past few years. It was always a dream to see my work all around. Today I get to see my work at every 100 meters. This is very satisfying for me.

Did you have any mentors?
No. I did not have any mentor. But I have been inspired by many people who drove me towards design consultancy. Paul Rand has been my biggest inspiration.

Why did you choose a small place like Bangalore to start your firm?
It really does not matter where you are. You can make it big anywhere. Moreover with technology, life has become simpler. And of course, I am a resident of Bangalore.

Would you encourage more people to take up design consultancy as a profession?
Why not? Sure. It is a good field which allows you to combine both art and science. It is challenging and if you work hard it does give you a lot of satisfaction. Any person wanting to get into this field should have the right aptitude for problem solving. One has to be both practical and imaginative to succeed in this field.

Does it pay well?
Yes it does. But that depends. If you are good then you are paid well. Quality is the key aspect and if one is able to dish that out, then I see no problem at all.


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