You are in the perfect place if you are looking for someone who can visualise those vague ideas forming in your mind into a perfect invitation! Pathrika attempts at providing unique, personalised cards for any occassion wedding, anniversary, baby shower, birthday, cocktail party etc. Meet Mekala Murali, a Chennai based graphic designer who graduated from Stella Maris College with a masters degree in Fine Arts with a specialisation in Graphic Design. What started as a passion with favours for friends and family has now moved into a business venture. Contact her if you are bugged with the rigid regular cards which leave you thinking how many times it has been used before. Together, you can come up with the perfect invitation for your occasion! How and when did Pathrika come about? I had been designing invitations for family and friends for quite sometime. The list ranges from weddings to upanayanam, 80th birthday, 1st birthdays and so on. So when I quit my job as a designer, not knowing what the next step would be, my husband just winged it saying "you do such a good job of coming up with these invites that you should just do it for living"! So, thats it. Pathrika happened immediately after. As a business venture (by which I mean I was actually making money doing it!) it started in April 2012. I had been a designer for a firm for about 5 years before that. The experience really helped in interacting with clients directly and taking up projects one after the other. There were no hiccups really.
What are the various design styles that you use? I do a lot of caricatures and cartoons because that's what the clients like most often. But if you look closely, almost all of my invites are strongly inspired by Indian folk art forms like Warli, Madhubani, Phad painting, Kerala murals, Pattachitra...well pretty much any folk art form of India. I love the quirkiness of Indian folk art forms and taking them out of a typical context gives them a character and beauty that you wouldn't expect to see in a regular wedding invite. I learnt a very strong lesson from my old boss/mentor that colors play a huge part in design. So I use an unusual and unexpected color palette to dress up the invite.
Tell us about the invitation that is closest to your heart or enjoyed designing the most. I don't have a specific favorite because I fall in love with pretty much every card I design. Each illustration is sketched on paper and then taken to the computer where it is redrawn. Colors are then added and tweaks are made. By the time this process ends I am in love with the card! I try not to send out an invite design till I am fully happy and satisfied with it. However there are invitation designs that sort of take my design skills to the next level. Those are the ones that leave a mark in mind. I must thank clients who let me do something new which I haven't done so far. It must take a lot of faith for them to actually trust me with something that they can't see or visualize. I truly thank them for the faith they have in me. What are the problems that you usually face? There is the difficulty of making people understand what designer wedding invitations are all about. People still ask me if I have a readymade template of cards from which they can choose. I have to explain how each card design is done from scratch for the client based on their requirements. It is basically a brand new card design done just for the client keeping the client's requirement in mind. So it becomes a very customised and personalised invitation. So all that the client wants is there on the card. The same design is never used for another client. So there is no question of customising a card that is already existing in Pathrika. This is also the USP of Pathrika. Each card is one of a kind.
What is the time taken for each invite? I normally take 7 to 10 working days to complete a design. Some complex designs may take longer.
How do you take orders? I usually talk to the client over Skype (because I don't live in India) and understand their requirements. I also explain to them how the design process works. Once we agree upon an idea and the design fee the project is on. So all of this works online very easily.
What is your educational qualification and how does it help you now? I did a B.A in Fine Arts and History of Art and an M.A in Graphic Designing. I studied art history extensively when I was in college. So I am well exposed to art forms in India and everywhere else in the world. This helps me with formats and designs. I take most of my inspirations from Indian folk art forms because they are very close to my heart. This folk art style is then overlaid with the bride and groom's "story". I talk to the client and understand their stories about how they met etc. I choose the right instances from their storyline and depict it in an art style that will be suitable for the client and their card. It involves a lot of thinking and conceptualizing from my part. But when the basics are strong it is simply a hop, jump and skip from there.