Lalithashree Ganesh is a writer and an artist who is passionate about making a difference to everyone who comes across her writing. She loves stories. She loves people, animals, the arts, a good book, Bollywood, music, peace, and travel. Based in Bangalore, Lalithashree produces a vast variety of work through her roles in the advertising industry and as a creative practitioner–and still had time to give deep thought to the following questions about her engagement with art and craft, in the final of this special DWIR interview series.
1. Could you give a brief history of your work as a writer?
I have had the opportunity to write for about 60 brands (renowned as well as upcoming Indian and international brands) in the the last three and a half years. My advertising career started with Big Basket, Harman Kardon, JBL and HCG Cancer Hospital, after which I continued to learn and work at different agencies–reading, researching, absorbing, understanding and nurturing a strong, impactful, yet non-pushy voice. All this happened in a rather short span of time as the pace of work and the flow of ideas was rather rapid. I went on to write for brands like Shell, Acer, Ozone Group, Air Pegasus, The Oberoi, Fortis Hospitals, Zoya by TATA, and several other upcoming brands before growing into a Brand Writer for a menswear brand. Every brand has its own personality, and I have lent my voice to a number of brands–having worked on both online and offline ads and communication.
2. I understand that you work in advertising and also pursue creative writing and visual art. How is diversity in your craft significant to you?
Yes, I believe that diversity is essential for a writer. While being a Brand Writer means one must be able to think creatively, my career involves an immense amount of research, ideation, discussion, writing and crafting of thoughts. When it comes to my passion for poetry, it is a reflection of how I view and understand the world and everything that’s happening in it and around it. Poetry and ink drawings let me explore and make sense of the world without that unavoidable boundary that my writing as a Brand Writer sets for me–asking me to be truthful, yet cautious, sensitive, and channeled with a commercial angle. In this sense, it is poetry (although unconsciously structured, yet free flowing) that lets me express myself as an individual rather than a voice representing a collective conscience. I think that this freedom of expression is gained from poetry, and painting with ink is what gives me a sense of peace and contentment in my role as a Brand Writer. Just as no day is same as any other day, so is my writing.
3. How important is it to balance your different types of writing and roles?
The Brand Writer, the Poet, and the Artist, are all a part of me. A part of who I am. Although they can be seen as separate skills or different voices, expressions, platforms and means of sharing creativity, world views and individual opinions, they are extremely significant parts of me. And to move forward, they each need the other and the world and everything in it–The Brand Writer, the Poet, and the Artist. They are gifts that help me grow and evolve. At the same time, they are what make me feel whole. Even when the pace seems slow, the important thing is to keep making a path and walking on it. And the balance will be achieved.
4. Do you find that using a mix of analogue and digital media (however you define each) helps to achieve this balance?
Well, to be honest I think that achieving that balance is all in the mind rather than in the medium. If you want to do it, then you’ll do it. When I began my career as a copywriter, I was told by the hierarchy that I must practice hard to break the literary, poetic mould that I had felt so comfortable in. In fact, I thought and believed I had to break it fully and truly failed in doing so. However, I soon realised (after a discussion with my mother) that rather than breaking what had already seeped into my blood cells, I should build another mould for myself (that of being a copywriter) and let that become a part of my blood cells too. In a sense, it is making space for what is necessary. And when some things become a part of you, the balance happens rather naturally. There is no effort to let them co-exist.
Speaking about the analogue and the digital, there definitely is a difference felt when the words are written with ink on paper as opposed to typing the words onto a screen. I believe there is something inexplicable in the analogue that may perhaps never be captured or felt via the digital. And I guess the choice is finally up to the writer–to decide where to use which medium (analogue/digital).
5. What new trends do you see emerging in your industry?
I see a lot of real stories. I see openness. I see truth. I see consistent attempts to break stereotypes. I see the emphasis for a better world through values shared. I see customer-centered communication, customer testimonials and customer stories that become ads. I see more research and understanding. I see informality in tone and language, and acceptance of the same from consumers/viewers. I see less of traditional structures as far as writing goes, and more of free flowing and quick communication. I see transitoriness and change. I see impermanence via social media–which makes forgetting as easy as remembering. I see a lot more youngsters, middle-aged men and women as well as senior citizens using their voices via social media to support important causes. I see a lot of brands and advertising agencies transitioning and embracing the digital medium in order to be current and keep pace with the happenings in the country and the world.
There are a lot of positive trends, and there are some not-so-positive trends as well. I see a bit of carelessness in using language and grammar. I see outright copying. I see a lot of compromise on quality. I see that while many messages mean well, they can also be misinterpreted, as nuances are not paid attention to. I see that there is a need for depth and ‘originality’–the focus is leaning more towards quantity, speed, and keeping the customer/audience engaged throughout, rather than going deeper in a qualitative sense.
6. Who is producing the work you’re following right now?
I don’t follow anyone in particular. When I come across work that is good and worthy, I feel inspired. I admire it and try to learn from the work/craft itself.