Shantanu Suman


Shantanu Suman is both a practioner of design at Open Door Design Studio and a teacher of design as Assistant Professor of Visual Communication, Ball State University. In a career spanning over sixteen years, Shantanu has worked as a Creative Director, documentary filmmaker, small business owner, and educator. He has worked with a variety of clients ranging from small startups to global brands including Kohler Co., The Wing Luke Museum, Frost Museum, Wired Magazine, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Reebok, and Citibank. After working for several advertising agencies in India — including Leo Burnett, Saatchi & Saatchi, Ogilvy & Mather, McCann, and Publicis — Shantanu moved to the US in 2010 to pursue his master’s degree from the University of Florida. During his stint in advertising, Shantanu garnered multiple awards including Cannes Silver Lion, D&AD, Clio, and Asia Pacific Adfest. His design work has been recognized by several publications including Uneven Growth (MoMA), CA, TDC, GDUSA, Print, LogoLounge, CNN Travel, Designboom, and Creative Review. In 2012, Shantanu collaborated with friends to make Horn Please, a documentary film based on the Indian Truck Art screened at several film festivals in the US and Europe. Shantanu constantly draws inspiration from his Indian roots to inform his design decisions. He uses Hindi typography within his work to make Devanagari script relevant in the current design discourse. In 2016, he joined Ball State University as an educator where he founded Studio 165+, a design studio course through which students work with regional, national, and international clients.

Has the pandemic changed your workplace and your workflow? Do you expect to return to pre-pandemic ways of working or will any changes become the ‘new normal’?

Definitely yes. The pandemic has changed it. In most cases returning to a pre-pandemic work style will be a mistake. The pandemic has provided us an opportunity to slow down and reevaluate our current methods as well as future priorities. And I hope that we use this time to stop normalizing our existing design process and strive to be more adaptive and inclusive for future.

What do you expect 2021 to hold for graphic designers and the design business? Have the challenges of 2020 changed the way you think about your job and career or the role of design?

To some extent, the challenges faced in 2020 resulted from years of neglect in areas including our personal, professional, social, physical, mental, political, economic, and cultural wellbeing. I hope designers become more engaged within their respective communities and use their skills for more than just making a living. This pandemic has also made us realize that designers have to play a much larger role in enhancing our interactions and experiences.