2011 NVA Winner: Sarmishta Pantham

By the Print staff

Title/Type of Work: Graphic Designer, Fashion Designer
From: Chennai, India
Lives in: Los Angeles, CA
Age: 26
Education: BA, Fashion Design, MFA, Graphic Design, Otis College of Art and Design

“Half apparel design and half graphic design,” is how Sarmishta Pantham describes her practice. “To be more ‘exact,’” she continues, “I do a bit of art and illustration for fashion, a pinch of apparel design, loads of self-initiated work, a handful of identity work for non-profits, and add a generous dose of a growing sensibility for sustainable practices and social responsibility.” Not to mention an appetite for cultural conservation as well as advancement. “I’m hoping to set up a school for underprivileged children in India,” she  says. “One that will utilize and culminate the scope of present-day graphic design and visual arts with the values of craftsmanship and traditional methods of learning to define a more exploratory and imaginative path of learning in today’s globalized world.”

Weekend Crafts Workshop, poster for Otis College of Art+Design.

In the midst of all these varied interests and aspirations, Sarmishta uses words like “exact” quite often. However, the word “scattered” comes up quite a bit, too. Perhaps it’s a result of what her former teacher (“Denise Gonzales Crisp, to be more precise”) called her “rich yet schizophrenic interests,” which she hopes to one day reconcile.

She imagines her future work to include “an exciting, seamless crossover between all of my interests in print design, design-based education, launching a fashion line, understanding cultural anthropology and finding out how they can influence each other and co-exist, developing into a practice that has socially responsible implications.” Quite a tedious task, she admits, “with my scattered interests!”

"National Beach Clean-up Day." Poster for Otis College of Art+Design

Pantham says the greatest influence on her work continues to be children’s books. She’s read J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan and Antoine St. Exupery’s The Little Prince multiple times as an adult, she says, because “they continue remind me of simplicity and plain old-fashioned goodness. I’ve realized over time that for every second design problem, Enid Blyton-esque solution is the first to pop in my head!”

I do a bit of art and illustration for fashion, a pinch of apparel design, loads of self-initiated work, a handful of identity work for non-profits, and add a generous dose of a growing sensibility for sustainable practices and social responsibility.

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