Today, we are joined by Ana Gomez , she is an Art Director. You can view her portfolio here.
Firstly, I’d like to thank you for the interview. We’d like to understand how your interest for illustration & Typography started shaping up. Tell us a bit more about what made you go this route!
My interest for illustration comes from an early age. Drawing has always been something I liked. Aside from a natural predisposition to it, as a child my grandfather used to tell me how when he was a little kid he stayed in the classroom during free time so that he could work on his drawings. He never became an artist, but his stories made me perceive anything related to drawing as wonderful. Something so enjoyable that it was better than playing outside.
My interest for typography came later. As a young teen, I would draw letters and decorate them. As a professional designer, my taste for illustration got reinforced and influenced by the Catalan modernism. An organic and detailed artistic movement from the turn of the 20th century. Moving to NYC made my work evolve as a reaction of my interaction with a new environment. It was then when I started to mix my illustrative work with typographical content.
Tell us a bit more about how you learned it all. What changed in the last few years in terms of ease of expanding your skills and knowledge?
Leaving my hometown to a fresh start in a new country acted as a pivotal point in my career. Starting my life in a brand new city required me to pay more attention to my environment, which lead to a greater awareness of creative influences. In my case, when everything around me was new, inspiration appeared to be everywhere. Also, the more excited I got about my work, the more ideas I had and the more interested I became in finding more and more inspiration. It was easy to find lectures to go, openings to attend and parties with interesting people. People that moved to NY with a plan, that went there to do something. The creative energy I felt at that time was the catalyzer that triggered my career development.
What does your creative process look like?
The first step in my process requires a great deal of writing and researching. I take the brief and find the important concepts in it. Once I have a conceptual outline of the project I work on finding an interesting way to communicate those concepts. I strive to always find a solution to the problem that excites me. It’s not a matter of only getting the job done, I want to be able to work on a piece that has a meaning and that satisfies both the client and myself.
As soon as the idea for the project is established, I do a quick sketch just to get a feel of the composition and visual dynamics and I move into creating the digital piece. At this moment in the process, it’s very important to get as close to the details as I can. I want my designs to hold up even when zooming in ten times the final size. When details are taken care of, the whole looks and feels right.
Do you have any recommendations in terms of good books, programs you use, or media choices you’re willing to share with us?
I believe books are important as an inspiration source because they take us away from the screen. I look up references online all the time, but I also like to seat on my couch, with four or five books and go through the pages. Finding inspiration on books becomes somehow a type of meditation. One of my favorite designers is Doyald Young. His book Dangerous curves is a delight to look at. I also find books that feature collections very useful. Books like Scripts or Shadow Type by Louise Filli and Steven Heller offer a great variety of type treatments. Another source I use frequently is Behance. They feature creative work from all over the world and act as a creative connection. I think that creative projects influencing creative people is a great way of moving the creative world forward and keep ideas happening. Software wise I work on Illustrator, Photoshop and Cinema 4D.
Do you have a special place or object that boosts your inspiration and helps your creative drive? What is it like and why does it have this effect on you?
I don’t have a physical space where I become more creative. Instead, I get inspired by whatever happens in my day that pushes the correct buttons. I can find inspiration at a flea market, flying on a plane, on a store front or while looking at something from a different point of view. I was recently working on a project for which I had to outline a human figure. I was doing it very close to the object, and a piece of the clothing gave me an idea for a project. The fact that I was looking at something very close, made it lose it’s context and gain a new meaning. I love it when that happens.
What was one of the most challenging typography problems you have ever had to solve?
I have recently worked on a project that required ambigraming a set of words. It’s not a typography challenge per se, but it definitely was a lettering one. The way I work with type is mostly illustrating it. Drawing letters and, even more, ambigraming words poses a series of problems that require a great deal of thought and test. An ambigram is basically a word that can be read in the normal direction, and upside down. The beauty of ambigrams is to achieve readability while keeping the organic nature of a word whose letters will become other letters when the page is flipped. Luckily, every project builds on the experience gained on the previous one, and after years of drawing letters, I had the tools to find ways of making a letter read as a different one when turned.
Where are some of the areas where typography is improving and where do we need to see more growth?
Over the last few years there has been a shift towards a more typography driven visual world. Calligraphy has also have been attracting the attention of brands and publications and now it’s easy to be beautiful calligraphy based magazine covers or lettered ads. The 3D world has given typography a new dimension. Literally. And the work coming from that section of the visual spectrum is very exciting. That notwithstanding, there are still times in which I see poorly set type.
I think the key is to keep a foot on the basics, making sure that a typographic piece can be properly read, even if its very illustrative, while keep pushing towards innovative ways of working in this discipline. The combination of illustration and typography offers a great deal of options to come up with beautiful designs, and we keep getting better and better software that allows us to bring what we see in out heads into the real world.
Could you describe how a productive day would look like from your point of view? Which are the most important hours for you?
My days start at 7am and I by 8am I’ve had my tea and I am running through my emails. I usually work until 6pm when I take a break to go on a bike ride or go to the gym, so I can come back refreshed to work a couple more hours. My most productive hours are the morning ones, and also later in the evening when everything is quieter than in the middle of the day. When I work on personal projects I’ve noticed that the most productive hours are those late at night. Maybe the fact that those are projects that come from the inside out, makes it easier to work on the, in more intimate hours. I find it conforming to be working on something personal when is dark outside.
On the other side, productivity gets boosted by nice times out with friends, chatting over dinner or going on a road tip. Not everything is work, and inspiration likes to show up when our brains are not focused on producing but enjoying instead.
What is your stance on today’s ever growing opportunities enabling artists to take on remote design work?I
think freedom is a wonderful state. I have just gotten my Green Card and opened my own company. It has required a great deal of commitment, dedication, discipline and hard work on both the design and the business fronts. But now I can work from wherever I am. I think this new stage will do for me what NY did five years ago. My environment will change more often and that will bring new lessons, influences and inspiration.
What would you prefer: a steady, well paying job in a local agency, or the freedom and often stressful life of a freelancer? Why?
Freelancing is perceived as potentially unstable, but in reality, a job at an agency can end at any moment too. For me, security comes by making my clients happy. Working by myself was scary the first day when it became real that I was the one responsible for everything, but new situations are often scary just because they are new. On day two everything was good. The positive side of being on your own, is that you have the control. You can see what is ahead and in my opinion in this case knowledge, not ignorance, is bliss.
How would you describe “the ideal project”? Did you have any recent opportunities to come close to this?
The ideal project is that one in which the client trusts you. As a creative, when my ideas are heard and I get constructive feedback, I am on the moon. Having a client that understands your point of view, trust your problem solving abilities and visual taste is the perfect scenario for creating good work.