I think it was the expression on Mother Teresa’s face that made the difference. Everyone loved the smile on her face, which exudes a warm motherly feeling," says Mumbai-based graphic designer Karen Vaswani about her latest work that has garnered her praise and recognition in India and internationally. The Vatican has chosen Vaswani’s “smiling mother" design as the official logo for use worldwide for the canonisation of Mother Teresa in Rome next week.

This logo will be used for all official communication in the media about the Canonisation as well as on official merchandise like T-shirts, caps, bags and assorted products memorializing the event.

The freelance designer and full-time mom based in Mahim has worked with two churches in her area for many years, helping them out every now and then with their brochures, newsletters etc. In April, Director of Social Communications from the Archdiocese of Kolkata requested her to create a logo for the local celebrations in the city leading up to the canonisation. “Sister Prema who heads the Missionaries of Charity and Father Brian Kolodiejchuk who is the postulator in Rome, happened to see it and they loved it. They decided to use it in all their communications internationally," says Vaswani.

She created her design keeping in mind the one line brief given to her, a sentence she was asked to incorporate—Mother Teresa: Carrier of God’s Tender and Merciful Love. “The visual had to convey that sentiment. They also sent me a photo of Mother Teresa, but I didn’t think that would work well. The logo has to be used across multiple platforms so keeping that in mind I simplified the colours, lines and expressions and sent them a few options accordingly," she says.

The logo created by Vaswan will be used for all official communication in the media about the Canonisation as well as on official merchandise like T-shirts, caps, bags and assorted products memorializing the event.
The logo created by Vaswan will be used for all official communication in the media about the Canonisation as well as on official merchandise like T-shirts, caps, bags and assorted products memorializing the event.

The serene smile on Mother’s face won them over and now Vaswani finds herself in the middle of this whirlwind, dazed by all the attention. “It is huge for me. I have done work with the church for a long time, but never really expected anything in return. So my friends and family are excited that my work is finally getting recognised," she says.

The 44-year-old worked for over seven years at Grey Worldwide, a marketing and advertising company before she quit her job in 2002 as a senior art director there. “When my baby was born I wanted to be home for her and decided to freelance," she adds. She went on to work with fashion designer Anita Dongre’s brand for 11 years designing ads for print campaigns and social media as well as styling photo shoots. Vaswani now works with various fashion and hospitality clients including Juice salon and Mumbai restaurants like Soul Fry and The Local handling advertising design for them, including writing copy, creating brand identity and packaging design.

As personal philanthropy Vaswani designs the packaging and handles the social media for the tribal women of Aarey for home-made pickles and chutneys besides helping people at other local churches. “Some are under the false notion that I won a contest. But I just designed this for the people I know and have worked with in the past," she says.

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