An old adage says that the practice until exhaustion leads to perfection.
However, creativity and productivity are not directly related to the hours of confinement in the studio.
The confinement can sometimes be necessary, but like everything in excess is harmful.
It is very important to have a life outside the studio, as well as being involved in activities (and people) that are not directly related to work.
Therefore, I always advise people to cultivate not only one but several simple habits such as playing an instrument, cultivating a garden or having a pet.
If you do not have a life, sooner or later your work will look – and be – lifeless as well.
My first meeting with a potential agent in London (nearly a couple of years ago) was something beyond frustrating: it was traumatic.
After viewing some carefully selected pieces of my work he shut book, looked right into my eyes and said very slowly as if to make it very clear:
“There is no place in the market for someone like you or the work you are doing”.
Harsh, mean, somewhat unfair…but also true.
However, quitting was out of question, so I decided to review my work and make it more professional and more marketable.
After having done that, slowly but surely clients started popping up.
Although I believe that one can be honest without being rude, at times that is the shake you need to wake up.
Today I am truly thankful to that agent, for in a very twisted way he made me want to be a better designer to the point of proving him wrong.
It is very easy for to criticise some one else’s work (especially while unable to do better).
Some works are just good, and that’s all.
And not even the fact that there may be other better works around won’t make a good work less worth the praise.
It really doesn’t matter if it was done by a single person, by a team, by robots, by aliens. It doesn’t matter if it was done lasers, scissors, hands or teeth. It doesn’t even matter if it has been done millions of times before.
What really matters is that when a piece of work is good it is captivating, inspirational and (best of all) memorable.
I think it is very easy for one to criticise when they could just and simply applaud a good idea. If nobody was killed, no animal harmed, no nuclear war started (long list here), then there is no need to question the method: just praise the results.
Art, as the human kind itself, is a fascinating thing exactly for being so diverse.
The way we communicate with any work of art may always be a matter of taste, and, for that matter, there wouldn’t be such a thing like better or worst work.
I think that it’s not only the technique or the style that will grab the viewer’s attention. In the end, it is the story that will really count.
Wrong context can make any great idea turn out pretty bad.
Therefore, I believe that the best way to start any work is having a script. It doesn’t have to be revolutionary, extraordinary, extremely dense, intense or meant to cause greater impact.
Nevertheless, it has to be at least the best you can do.
I know it sounds (and may be) cliché, but you can only benefit from keep on researching and learning.
It is true that we live in a time when everything happens faster and faster and it is simply impossible to catch up with everything that’s going on.
However, this is not excuse for one to think they already know enough.
Knowledge is part of what makes people interesting and their work relevant.
For instance, someone who likes typography and lettering can learn quite interesting things from architecture; an illustrator from anatomy; a brand designer from psychology; and so on.
It is equally good to take the learning adventure even further and learn about other things not necessarily related to your everyday routine such as learning a new language, travelling, playing an instrument, fishing, gardening…
There are always room in your brain for new things. Don’t let it collect dust.
Should you choose design as a career, be prepared for criticism. Try not to be defensive, understand your environment and take ANY criticism as something you can benefit from.
Many peers will be nice and say polite things to you, but rarely one of them will buy your work.
Cultivate the habit of asking people what they DO NOT LIKE about your work.
Take the punches and, please, learn to appreciate honesty.
Your buyer is someone who does not know anything about you or your story (and not even wants to).
Your buyer is only interested in the work you are selling. If it is never good, you are going to have a career with loads of compliments but nothing actually sold.
Do not compare yourself: everybody is different and the perception of a graphic work is something very personal.
Your art is not bad because someone does not like it, or extremely good because you have 1000 likes.
However, as a graphic artist you must always be aware that your work has got to have a minimal commercial appeal.
Some are good in doing art others are extremely good in promoting their work, whether it is good or not. Some pop music icons are there to prove me right.
The well succeed artist will have to be talented and creative not only when doing their work, but also when putting it onto context in order to sell it.
Asked if I believe that digital painting is less respected than traditional, my honest answer was no.
I have been going to several art fairs where digital prints sell just as much as traditional works.
I think that what really counts is the artistry of the piece.
Unfortunately, some think that applying a few Photoshop effects and textures to a photograph would be enough to create an art piece.
These people allow the computer to do all the work (even the thinking) and it has resulted on the proliferation of truly believers to be real but actually fake artists.
In addition, because computer and software are so accessible and the internet has made it all so easy to be showcased, anyone who uses digital tools (regardless of age, education or art training) will call themselves ‘digital artists’, making it hard for the buyer to find something worth buying amongst the cyber clutter.
The key once more is to be true to yourself and to the art principles and your art will shine. Be it traditional, experimental or digital.
There is a subtle difference between being inspired by and copying some one else’s work (whether consciously or not).
Whatever happens, don’t pretend to be someone else.
When you like something, try to go for the essence of it. Try and find what is the magical feature in that piece that makes it work, makes you feel good and makes you want more of it.
When you find that, your work will be just as good rather than a soulless copycat.
(To be continued)
Every artist is restless by nature, and every artist lives in a universe of their own, often private, but not necessarily impenetrable, closed, inaccessible.
It is common in the world of the Fine Arts the puzzle, the abstraction, the concealment of meaning or sense of direction in a particular work, and that dense form of language is often how the artist incites the viewer to explore more of their work.
Often it is for a critic to explain to the general public the (supposed) meaning of a particular work.
The world of graphic design and illustration business is less entangled and far more direct. Communication must be immediate, instantaneous. The artist must leave their own universe to then humbly entre the viewer’s.
If your work is not understood immediately, do not try to explain too much. When the work is good, it will speak for itself.
Discard or rethink everything that you’ll need more than one sentence to explain, after all, you are offering is a product, not arithmetic.
(To be continued)
This week, a graduate asked me for advices on how to be successful in the design industry.
Well, I may still be in my design infancy, but there are some lessons I have learned that I can humbly pass on and over the coming weeks I will be talking about it. So let’s begin.
Try to see your work as an outsider.
It is very easy to cling to something you did just because it was done by you.
Some of you personal projects will only talk to you, and there is no point in trying to pull others into your universe and force them to see things as you see them.
To understand this rule is a good step to not be frustrated when others simply do not follow your idea, and in design is something is not understood simply does not sell.
(To be continued).
When I realized that illustration and graphic design were what really wanted to work with, I had to learn how to use the computer as a tool, for before that I only needed paint, some brushes and a blank canvas to portray my imaginary.
The nights spent wide-awake paid off when I started publishing some of my digital work on the Behance Network.
However, at some point last year I was so busy that it was taking ages for me to publish something new. Then, only in order to keep posting, I decided to publish a bundle of handmade graphics, and the result was rather unexpected.
The warm reception I had was the remedy for me to fight my shyness and insecurities.
Today I feel very comfortable doing both digital and handmade graphics, and I feel no need to pick one because in the end the best choice is to do the things you feel good about.
One of my NYE resolutions for 2013 was to design a letter a day.
I am not the king of procrastination, but simple as is may seem, that promise has been actually harder to keep than I first thought.
When the time to have the first complete alphabet was due and I had not done anything at all, I had no other choice than to go and design the whole alphabet.
And it was actually done in a single day.
I am glad to share the results. Hope you’ll like it. And in case you want to take a closer look at your favourite letter, they are all on the projects tab.
PS: The second alphabet is already on the way.
I am not in denial, but my OCD is not severe, at least today. However, it used to be.
But I only realized that something was wrong and that I needed help when I started creating stories to justify what not even I understood why I was doing.
The final straw was when a former boss noticed I was restless and visibly upset about something. Being gently asked about the reasons I quietly replied that ‘I suspected I had left the gas open in the kitchen’. For the obvious reasons I was immediately sent home. However, the only thing I had actually forgotten was to put the washed dishes and cutlery back into the cupboard and feared that if I died before ‘fixing’ that I could be misjudged. Crazy, I know.
Today still need everything to be neat and tidy, but just as a practical matter.
Still label and catalogue some things, but today I sleep peacefully if one cup of coffee has been forgotten in the sink. But only one.
I lived in Brasilia for quite a few years until my departure to London in 2007, and it’s a little strange the feeling of being back here.
Not that the city is now very different, or that people have changed, or even that much of new things have been added to the city.
The fact is that I am not the same.
When I left this place I didn’t actually have a plan. I was given to luck, with a handful of dreams and a good amount of courage and back then I believed I had seen everything here, and so I found myself eager for new horizons, new perspectives, new ways of seeing the world around.
I think I have somehow taken this town for granted. There was and there is still much to be discovered and lived here.
I am back, but definitely feel like coming to a new place.
As previously mentioned, a few time ago I was in a band. I was the lead singer, guitar player, producer… even though I was not really good in any of those. The band never took off, but it remains one of the best things I have to remember.
Even though I have moved on from that, I still absolutely love the material I wrote back then (yes, I wrote over 100 songs). Then, I decided to turn my lyrics onto design projects.
This particular song is my all time favourite. It is about love, but it is an unusual approach to it: It talks about being frightened by the feeling of losing control, of not knowing exactly what’s happening inside.
In the end, it is a very positive song because in the last verses it is clear that I ended up giving in to the love that was taking over and, even though still lost and confused, i was feeling good about that.
I firstly thought about working on a single poster. However, working on each verse separately would make it easier to emphasize the feeling behind the song as a whole. In addition, I wanted it to be confusing but the use of so many typographic styles wouldn’t work so well if put together on the same sheet.
I am glad to share this ‘behind the scenes’, and do not forget to check the actual work.
I have a strong admiration for the painters of murals, especially the anonymous artists whose art beautifies points in the city that would otherwise be dull and boring.
Yet, some of these great works are unfortunately often overlooked.
Painting on walls is the kind of fun that I allow myself from time to time.
However at least for now I have limited my work to more modest murals, all indoors.
My style is somewhat different from my digital work, and with very rare exceptions, the recurring theme is always trees or another element of nature.
After having spending December having fun but working hard to reboot my father’s office (I will be showing the results within a few weeks), I am finally back to my office, and somewhat overwhelmed by the amount of work to do already.
Of course, I will always find time to work on my personal projects.
Amongst them there are a couple of typographic work I am very excited about. The first is called ‘A Letter A Day’. As the title suggests, it basically means I’ll be designing a different letter everyday and after the whole set is done I’ll publish and then start a brand new one.
The other project is called ‘Lyrical’, on which I will be taking the words of a particular song and making a typographic work with some of its verses.So, by the end of January there will be a whole lot of new thing showing here.
Stay tuned and thank you for your kind support.