In this edition of Nagarrians at Play, we present Leslie James, who has been creating art in PowerPoint for almost 2 decades. He is the Director of Marketing, Nagarro, and a father of 3 kids. His art inspired his wife to begin her journey as an entrepreneur.
It all started with the power of words. I was always into literature and decided to prepare for a career in copywriting. I was so naïve that in my 2nd year of university, I had the audacity to walk into an agency and ask for work. They nicely told me to come back once I graduated, and I did! After a couple of successful years at the agency as a copywriter, I lost my father, I was only 25, and I became the sole bread earner of my family. My career became crucial. I needed to provide for my family. My hard work paid off, and at 28, I became the youngest Creative Director at the agency. I loved my work, but it was very demanding and consumed me. I needed to find something that could help me face the stress and help me complete another side of myself. That is when I discovered the power of art, or rather that is when I first unleashed my inner artist.
My first “pieces” were simple. I grabbed a pen and started some black and white drawings. They were ok, but the idea of adding color to them made me shudder. That is when I decided to try and use PowerPoint. I scanned my drawings and started to explore what I could do with the software. I began using simple tools like colors, circles, and lines. This was the beginning of my 20-year journey of creating art in PowerPoint. I continued to explore tools like removing background, adding texture, and breaking elements in PowerPoint and have come to master those tools. My passion for art and my work became rather synonymous. Writers and designers work together to combine visuals and words. They play off each other and feed off each other. This made me realize how strong and important both were.
For creative people, art is usually a way to express emotions, but for me, it is like meditation. Sometimes it can lead to a cool art piece, and sometimes, nothing. All I do is create with no expectations or goals attached to it. There is no pressure, just learning. It is just meandering along, trying stuff, and reaching a point that pleases you. Once my daughter made this drawing with a paper cut of a mosque. I borrowed it from her and scanned it. I started to work on her scanned drawing, cropped it, duplicated it, and added layers to it. Then I, along with my daughter, explored it further. We added multiple layers and different color options, chose the one she liked, and then added textures on PowerPoint. I used a 1m x 1m slide size, saved it with 300 dpi, and printed the result. It was a simple drawing transformed into modern art.
Lorraine's (his daughter) art transformed by Leslie on PowerPoint
Some of my friends even bought my art pieces, and even my daughter found my previous small pieces. She found them fascinating, so she organized those to decorate her room. It acted as an emotional drive for me. Being valued by your loved ones fills the vacuum created in human hearts and minds.
Leslie with his family
My only advice is to give yourself space to be your raw self and chisel away. We are all work in progress, so start with the basic version of yourself. Pick what you want to do, keep exploring, and experiment without setting goals or expectations. Don’t let the quality of the art stop you from continuous exploration and keep doing things on micro levels and build on it. Innovation and creativity happen over a period. So, plant the seed today and water it daily to get a tree with strong roots.
Leslie with fellow Nagarrians at Dubai Conflux
When Leslie is not drawing, he may also be found writing poetry, making videos, or even at times working on the next big Nagarro campaign.