1. What is your career background?
I completed my B.E. in Production Engineering from 2006 to 2010 and started my first job as a Fixture Design Engineer which went on for a couple of years. Later, I directed my learning journey towards Cutting Tools Design for a period of 4+ years. 
After over 6 years, I gradually acquired commercial knowledge alongside design experience and eventually took a new challenging role as Cost Analyst of Engine components and continued to work in this role for 1.5 years. Following that, I took a break for a period of 3 years after the birth of my first child.

Conceptualised and Illustrated by Srilakshmi | Artpreneur Program Alumni 2020 - 2021 Hymns of Cosmos Batch

2. Despite lacking prior experience in the art field and having a love for your existing job, what inspired you to embark on a creative journey?
I love my job very much and have always aspired to learn and grow significantly in my career, seeking a holistic experience. However, after my first maternity break, I couldn't rejoin my job as my husband received an opportunity to travel to the United Kingdom. Consequently, I resigned from my job in Chennai and traveled to the U.K. with my 5-month-old baby. It took two years to settle down in an unknown country before I resumed my job hunt.
Gradually, I realized that opportunities with my prior experience were minimal in that country. So, I decided to enhance my skills by enrolling in a certification, successfully completing SAP Certification. With that in hand, I attempted to secure an internship after a career break of two plus years. Unfortunately, I was confined to my home due to the coronavirus lockdown.
As days passed, I felt increasingly depressed due to my extended career break. To overcome this, I began drawing pictures of words starting with Tamil vowels, inspired by an unknown artist on Facebook who did a similar drawing for the English alphabet to teach my 2-year-old son.
Gradually, I started enjoying the process and decided to publish my work as a small book. I approached my school friend Abi (Colortickle) and discussed the feasibility of converting the paper works into a digital version. During that discussion, she explained the process and motivated me to learn and create the book myself, which was a significant task for me at that point in time. This was the first spark that led me to consider the Artpreneur course, and after a few days of thought and discussion, I joined the course in October 2020.

Conceptualised and Illustrated by Srilakshmi | Artpreneur Program Alumni 2020 - 2021 Hymns of Cosmos Batch

3. During your career shift, what challenges did you encounter?
In general, I am a logical thinker. This nature posed a significant challenge for me as it required me to fully immerse myself in my art learning journey without dwelling on what would happen after completing the course. However, with the guidance of my tutor Vinodhini, I gradually learned to wholeheartedly engage in the learning process without any reservations.
This shift allowed me to concentrate effectively and complete assignments on time. Overcoming this was the sole challenge I encountered as an individual, and by the end of my portfolio, I had completely transformed in my approach to acquiring a new skill set.

Conceptualised and Illustrated by Srilakshmi | Artpreneur Program Alumni 2020 - 2021 Hymns of Cosmos Batch

4. Can you highlight some real-time projects, specifically in UI/UX and children’s books, that you worked on and are proud of?​​​​​​​
During my course of study, I was in search of simple Tamil books with easy words and pictures to teach my little one. Unfortunately, I never got any Tamil resources, as I used to get plenty of English books with beautiful illustrations. The Tamil books I purchased from India were not attractive for small kids and lacked variations in different topics. This concern lingered in my mind as I explored different art forms.
After the course period, I developed concepts for Tamil kids' books as part of my portfolio and discussed them with Balaji Anna. At that time, I honestly had no idea about being a children's book illustrator. My initial goal was to create a colorful, simple Tamil book to read with my little one. With the mentor's support, I successfully created three different Tamil books in three different art styles during my 3-month portfolio period.
One of the books was a digital conversion of the Tamil vowels, which I had created on paper before entering this course. After the portfolio period, I published my first children's English book titled "THANK YOU." During a book reading session in school with the teacher, my little one mentioned me and my book illustrations. The next day, the class teacher requested me to bring the "Thank You" book to school. A proud moment in my life was receiving appreciation from his school head teacher and class teacher, who kept my "Thank You" book in their classroom library for kids' reading time.
After a year, I personally felt my learning curve was static, and I wanted to learn something from scratch to further equip myself in the design field. So, I decided to pursue a UX/UI professional certification course. However, this time was super challenging for me as there was no tutor or mentor for support and follow-up, and I had to do everything on my own from scratch. Over a period of 7 months, I successfully created three virtual projects, including mobile and website application development.
This learning journey taught me a lot about planning, time management, self-evaluation, execution, and implementation.

Conceptualised and Illustrated by Srilakshmi for '5 Pulanngal', a children's book in Tamil for preschoolers

5. As a logical thinker, how did you prepare yourself to learn something entirely new from scratch?
I personally maintained a notebook from Day 1 to track my learning, questions, and tasks to do every single day. I spent an hour on learning in the morning after dropping my little one off at school. Additionally, I reviewed my daily learning at the end of the day before going to sleep. This process provided insights into my areas of interest, strengths, and areas of improvement.
There were a few tough days where I couldn't afford time to sit and learn, but I continued to write in my notebook about the reason for my break on that particular day. This habit helped me review myself personally, channelize my daily activities accordingly, and gradually develop a routine learning time. I also evaluated myself monthly from the point where I started the course to confirm my level of learning and understand areas of improvement, pushing myself to do better in the upcoming months.

Conceptualised and Illustrated by Srilakshmi for 'Thankyou', children's book

6. After the program, how was it for you to learn and master UI/UX from scratch? What drove you in the process?​​​​​​​
Honestly, it was super challenging to do anything from scratch without any fellow crowd and consistent support and guidance from the mentor. The only thing which I kept in my mind when I started the course was to complete and create a portfolio successfully within a time frame which I kept for myself based on my personal commitments without any second thoughts. The clarity in my thought process and my consistent efforts on a daily basis, helped me to complete the course with a tenure of 7 months.​​​​​​​

Conceptualised and Illustrated by Srilakshmi | Artpreneur Program Alumni 2020 - 2021 Hymns of Cosmos Batch

7. Looking into the future, what aspirations do you have for yourself in this field, and where do you see yourself five years from now?
At present, I am enjoying my parenting with my second one. I would like to continue my journey into the Design field without any further breaks in the future once I resume my work again. So, after five years, I would love to place myself in a better knowledgeable position in the UX/UI field.​​​​​​​

Conceptualised and Designed by Srilakshmi | Artpreneur Program Alumni 2020 - 2021 Hymns of Cosmos Batch

8. How has your confidence in achieving financial independence increased as you invest more time in the artistic field?​​​​​​​
To be honest, initially, when I started my career after the one-year course, my confidence was little low. But slowly, when I started to interact with a few clients and the way I delivered my work to them, I totally understood the amount of knowledge I gained in the course period and my professionalism towards art work. This realization gave me enough confidence to move forward in my work and, after that, I never felt low at any point in time. I totally transformed as a person and willing to learn anything from anyone. ​​​​​​​

Conceptualised and Illustrated by Srilakshmi | Artpreneur Program Alumni 2020 - 2021 Hymns of Cosmos Batch

9. For homemakers aspiring to embrace their creative passions, what insights would you like to share with them?
I can share a few points with all the homemakers from my overall journey and experience. Hope this is helpful to all.
1. Stay Consistent
2. Slow progress is always better than no progress.
3. Invest your minimal amount of time in learning on a daily basis
4. Take up any opportunity that knocks at your door
5. Establish your skills by doing volunteering and gain sufficient working experience
6. Always stay positive and open to constructive feedback.

Conceptualised and Illustrated by Srilakshmi | Artpreneur Program Alumni 2020 - 2021 Hymns of Cosmos Batch

10. In your artistic progress, what role did the guidance from educator and mentor play?​​​​​​​
I will say their guidance played a major role in my learning because, right from the beginning of my journey, my thoughts and understanding towards each and every module was different from the crowd. My educator always stayed calm and composed and politely answered all my questions and supported me to finish my assignments on time. Gradually, without my knowledge, I started to love my learning and improved myself each and every day of my course period.​​​​​​​
Click below to explore Srilakshmi's Portfolio
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