Today, we are joined by Jose Mendez , he is a Graphic Designer . You can view his portfolio here.
Firstly, I’d like to thank you for the interview. We’d like to understand how your interest for illustration started shaping up. Tell us a bit more about what made you go this route!
I think my interest in illustration comes from the first graffitis I saw in my city(Madrid) when I was a kid.
My parents decided to move to a smaller city and somehow I had to create my own world because there wasn’t any art scene there. That is when I started to draw everyday and made my experiments with spray cans. Years later I went back to Madrid to study graphic design, I have always felt more attracted by illustration but having a life as a illustrator seemed to be like a impossible mission in Spain, that is why I decided to study graphic design which seems to have a more commercial approach. When I finished my degree I moved to London and after working in few graphic design studios, I realized that I was more comfortable doing illustration and that the opportunities to become a professional in the field were bigger compared with my Spain.
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?
What I learned in school were rules, techniques and also ways to conceptualize as I studied graphic design, but with the experience I learned to create my own voice, the hard part is to find yourself and express your ideas while you’re doing commercial projects.
I still feel the need to give more shape and polish my work, but nowadays I feel much more comfortable with what I do if I look backwards. As soon as you find your own language the only matter is to carry on developing it and applying it to different mediums, but it is a long way you have to have go through until you reach it.
What does your creative process look like?
I am always sketching ideas on pieces of paper and take pictures of what I find interesting or inspirational for something that I can apply in a future project. Those ideas form the base of my creative thinking, when I receive a project, let’s say that I can go back to those ideas and link them with a project.
After that phase, I think my process is really standard, first thing is to come up with ideas doing some quick sketches, when I find something good I try to develop it, then scan it and make it digital with my tablet.
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 live really close to a canal in east London, I usually have a walk along or go there to read some books when I feel stuck with a project. When you live in a big city like London you feel a lot of pressure on top of your shoulders, the canal is one of the few places in the city where you can feel you are not living in a big city and it feels like you are in a small village, that feeling makes me disconnect from what I have been working during the whole day and I think those little breaks makes increase my focus in what I am doing or thinking.
Could you describe how a productive day would look like from your point of view? Which are the most important hours for you?
The perfect productive day is when I don’t have to be dealing with the business side of the illustration.
If I have received a clear brief or a recent feedback from a client I can just carry on working focused in my work.
I think the most important hours to work in a commercial project are during the early morning when your mind is still fresh, but to me the late nights sessions works really good to draw or to come up with new ideas.
What is your stance on today’s ever growing opportunities enabling artists to take on remote design work?
One of the best things of being an illustrator or freelancer is the freedom of working in different places. Traveling is a great source of inspiration and having the chance to take remote work is something that can help the creative process.
But I also enjoy when I have had to go to studios and work together with a creative team, for me it is necessary to be surrounded by people and it is also good having prompt feedback.
What would you prefer: a steady, well paying job in a local agency, or the freedom and often stressful life of a freelancer? Why?
I always prefer to produce work where I can express my own ideas. I think it is really difficult to find an agency where you feel comfortable with the work that you are required to produce, when you are a freelancer you are asked to produce a work with the same style of what you show in your website and that makes you feel unique somehow.
I wouldn’t mind to work in a studio where we share similar interests and a similar approach, a place where they have interesting and challenging projects more illustration and animation based.
During the last years my work has turned more personal and I have the feeling that I have narrowed my path to just do what I really like to do.
It is a hard and solitary career but at the same time it is also really satisfactory from a creative point of view.
How would you describe “the ideal project”? Did you have any recent opportunities to come close to this?
The perfect project is the one that challenges you to come up with something you have never done before and where you have enough time to experiment. Sometimes I think that the perfect project is the one where you can just do whatever you want. Instead I find it really challenging when a client doesn’t like some of your ideas and pushes you to come up with something that you wouldn’t normally do and this shouldn’t mean that you are forced to create something in a different style.