Hello. I’m Vinayak Varma, a writer / editor / illustrator / designer / musician based in Bangalore, India. (Yes, yes, I know, this is one of those annoyingly multimodal descriptions that sends every hipster alarm bell ringing. The short explanation is that I spent a good decade-and-a-half all-trades-Jacking-about, sans map or compass, until I found my own patch of life to settle into. Longer explanations, links and things, below.)
You’re currently on my personal site, where I mostly share stray bits of writing: poetry, short fiction, random journalling, angry rants, that sort of thing. None of this may be relevant to my professional life, in which I do the following:
As a publishing consultant, I write, edit, commission, illustrate, and art direct children’s books, YA stories, and books for people all ages. I have done so since roughly 2003 or so, for all the leading Indian publishing companies. (This isn’t a boast — publishing in India is just that tiny and incestuous, and once you’re in it, you tend to spread around pretty rapidly, much like a fart in a lift. It’s the getting in that’s usually the tough part. Unless you’re savarna and relatively well-connected, of course. I was lucky to have been both. If you’ve been denied the same opportunities because of your community, religion, gender, physical disabilities, or financial circumstances, follow the asterisk — *) I also dallied with journalism for a few years, during which time I got to edit a local newspaper supplement and start a national science magazine, neither of which remains in existence now. Ah, well.
As a design consultant (and this is probably my core area of knowledge, if there is such a thing — I have an educational background in fine arts, design and filmmaking), I’ve specialised in branding for the craft beer and hospitality industry since 2013. I’ve created identities, designed collaterals, signage systems and environmental graphics, and helped create long-term promotional strategies, for microbrewery / F&B brands like Brewsky, Big Brewsky and Big Pitcher. (Disclaimer: the two Brewskies have recently been redesigned by a few friends of mine, post a management change, so what these brands currently look like — which is brilliant and sexy, of course — is not my work. My old designs, also moderately brilliant and sexy, can be seen on my other website.)
I’m presently engaged in a long-term consultancy with Geist Brewing, as their Brand Custodian. I conducted an extensive rebranding exercise for Geist in 2016. Since then, I’ve designed and strategised all their visual identities, beer launches, print campaigns, internal branding, product packaging, restaurant and business collaterals, and visual merchandise. It’s fun work, but it’s also very demanding, and my fingers are constantly blistered and RSI-afflicted from all that Wacom-wielding, so take your evil eye elsewhere.
About that. Over the years, a lot of curious, well-meaning or plainly jealous folks have asked me if I cultivate all these brewery clients for the free beer. My answer is always no. I tell them I do this work for the creative freedom, the prestige, the money, and the good feeling of having helped a brand find its perfect self. Mainly, though, I do it for the money. So if you’ve got a halfway decent budget and identities / products / spaces you want branded or spruced up (free beer completely optional), write to me. If you don’t have much of a budget, but you’re doing non-profit work for a worthy cause, write to me anyway. I’ll try and help you in any way I can.
For the rest of my time, I play music. I’ve had a love affair with the blues since my adolescence, and I sacrifice an unhealthy amount of sleep to sit up listening to, reading about, singing or playing the blues. I’ve played harmonica for a few years now, and I’ve been learning to play some guitar of late, and when the world isn’t beset by riots and goddamn pandemics, I sometimes get to play that beautiful old-timey music on stage with a bunch of other musicians. And that’s when I’m at my happiest.
Still interested in the stuff I do? After wading through all that text? Really? Fine, boss, go knock yourself out:
You can have a look at some of my design and art here.
Read some of my writing: here.
See press and publicity about my work here.
And know more about my career: here.
As I said, that elevator can seem full if you’re not lucky enough to have been born into the right caste, religion or gender in this country. If you’re a struggling Indian illustrator or designer from an underserved background and are looking for a break in the publishing industry, hit me up. I can e-introduce you to editors and art directors I know. Or I can try to help you with any advice or directions you might need to get to your goals. It’s literally the very least I can do.