Today, we are joined by Octavio Pardo , he is an Illustrator. 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 & Typography started shaping up. Tell us a bit more about what made you go this route!
It s quite funny actually. After graduated from the fine arts school I started working in a graphic design agency in Barcelona. One day, the art director told me: “you are a great graphic designer, but you know nothing about typography”. Since I m quite stubborn I decided to learn as much as possible about type. So after a couple of years saving money I enrolled in the University of Reading to study Type Design. When I finished I wasn’t really planning to work so much as a type designer but I started having small commissions until today that I m a full time type designer.
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?
The University of Reading was a great experience of course. But I consider Jean François Porchez as my mentor in the type design field. JF taught me many things but what I treasure the most is a professional methodology, a way of doing things and a deep understanding of the hole process of producing typefaces. It allows me to grow up an expand my knowledged in the direction I like most with a very solid base and confidence of how do I do things. It is crucial when it comes to type design: it saves you time in the most boring stages and allows you to focus in the most important ones for longer.
What does your creative process look like?
When it comes to typography it always is quite complex. I sit in front of the computer and I start drawing until things have the shape I like. This might take minutes, days, weeks or even months. A font is a combination of many things: briefing, experiences, other typefaces, ideas… it might be long specially if it is a self initiated typeface. When there are deadlines you must be faster though.
ABout graphic design I always look for the idea that resonates in my head somehow. Many times you should force yourself into a deadline and if I do not find it I feel very frustrated. When I am into something and I feel that special vibration I feel like a little kid. In any case, I always try to do as many versions of the project as possible. Every version always gets better.
Do you have any recommendations in terms of good books, programs you use, or media choices you’re willing to share with us?
There are plenty of good books out there for graphic design: “Made you look” by Sagmeister and specially ”
Forget All the Rules About Graphic Design:
Including the Ones in This Book” from Bob Gill which literally changed my life.
Right now I am reading one that is surprising me very positively:
Do You Matter? by Robert Brunner and Stewart Emery
About typography there are not too many really good ones:
The elements of typographic style by Robert Bringhurst is the bible of type setting; but about type design I would say “Letters of credit” by Walter Tracy and then not much more that I know about…
Great resources online are Type Radio, the texts in the typotheque website are precious, and the different essays in type culture website are great too.
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?
Yes I do: my secret place where creativity explodes is the sauna after doing sport. There is a cientific reason for this actually. Our brain has several levels of brain waves: Beta when you are very stressed and working intensevely; Alpha when you are very relaxed; Theta when you are about to sleep and Delta for deep sleep. The brain developers its maximum creative power in Alpha state, so the sauna, after an intense physical activity is the perfect environment for my brain to fly. And it really does.
What was one of the most challenging typography problems you have ever had to solve?
The Tiananmen Font project, where I m trying to synchronize the spacing of three fonts with different styles is being a huge challenge. In fact, I still haven’t solved it
Where are some of the areas where typography is improving and where do we need to see more growth?
Everything related with technology is growing extremely fast. Tools for development, OT code, complex multilingual typefaces…
There is a vast unexplored potential in what some authors call the ‘metafonts’ or tools created using the structure of typefaces but they are actually something completely different. A good example of this is Chartwell by Travis Kochel. Also new specifications in type formats are going to expand our boundaries in ways we cannot imagine.
In visual terms I am secretly waiting for the breaking of the bonds with the old structure of the letter and the advent of a new era with new letter-forms but that doesn’t seem it will happen any time soon.
Could you describe how a productive day would look like from your point of view? Which are the most important hours for you?
Nothing very special. I wake up early. Try to look at different blogs and websites for around an hour. Then I start working while listening the radio until the evening doing a little break for lunch. If I don t have any urgent project I usually save the last two or three hours of the day for my own projects or typefaces. Those are always the happiest hours. Then I go to the gym seeking for the great ideas in the sauna XD.
What is your stance on today’s ever growing opportunities enabling artists to take on remote design work?
There are plenty of opportunities but according to my own experience, you need to knock as many doors as possible. Global market gives you many chances but also competitively is higher and harder than ever. There are many people that can do the same job as you and probably better. Why anybody would choose you? Knowing you is a huge reason. So make sure they know you.
What would you prefer: a steady, well paying job in a local agency, or the freedom and often stressful life of a freelancer? Why?
Freelance of course. I like it because someday I just like to stop and work in my own things. I also like to travel a lot. Lately I have been collaborating with an agency in Milano that is like a
dream come truth: Great atmosphere, total freedom, my own deadlines… but is not the best place I have ever work. The best one was a little bungalow with internet 2 meters from the sand of the beach in the Gili Islands in Indonesia or the surfer’s club in Perhentian island in Malaysia. Working in those places is unbeatable
How would you describe “the ideal project”? Did you have any recent opportunities to come close to this?
The ideal project is a small-medium food company that trusts on me their entire image, communication and packaging. Doesn’t seem it will happen any time soon since I have no many packaging projects to show in my portfolio so I m seriously consider to create that client myself