In our 12 Questions blog series, we feature interviews with someone from the crowdSPRING community. For these interviews, we pick people who add value to our community – in the blog, in the forums, in the projects. Plainly – activities that make crowdSPRING a better community. Be professional, treat others with respect, help us build something very special, and we’ll take notice.
We’re very proud to feature Edoardo Gioe (crowdSPRING username: kaythree) today. Edoardo lives and works in Palermo, Italy.
1. Please tell us about yourself.
Hello! My name is Edoardo, I am twenty-two years old and I currently live in Palermo, a city that was founded over 2,700 years ago and that now represents the fifth most populated area in Italy. It’s a wonderful place of high contrasts where opposites dance together in the strangest, daunting way. Even though I was born here, I spent part of my childhood in Sydney, where I was first introduced to computers at the age of six. I developed a passion for graphic design during my adolescence and – please don’t tell anyone – I collect videogames. As a matter of fact, I actually learned the basics of Photoshop while working on a user-generated modification for a (once) popular game. I’d say my life has progressed on a rather bumpy road which ultimately led me to fall in love with this profession. I currently plan to move and perhaps find a home elsewhere in the world.
2. You’ve previously worked in the advertising industry but now work
mainly online. Why did you decided to make that switch?
Well, a number of factors ultimately influenced this decision. While I was offered a few jobs in my hometown, none of the jobs offered me the opportunity to work on such a variety of projects as that offered by the crowdSPRING marketplace. After I took a few jobs from a couple of clients here in Palermo, I did some quick math and figured that I could not only find more interesting work online, I could also make more money out of it. Also, bringing my business online didn’t mean I had to completely ignore everything in the city – I still do design work for an advertising agency and a couple of other clients on a monthly basis.
3. Please talk a little about the graphic design industry in Italy.
While it’s not uncommon for Art Directors and designers throughout the territory to enjoy a certain degree of success, it’s unfortunately rare to see small businesses and firms appreciate and seriously invest in graphic design and advertising. Italy’s economic divide between a rich north and a poor south translates into an industry which is flourishing in cities such as Milan and Turin, but is almost absent elsewhere – with perhaps Rome being the only notable exception. Tertiary education for Italian graphic designers is relatively rare too. While there are specialized secondary education institutes which focus around forming ‘professionally qualified’ graphic designers, faculties around the country tend to group graphic and industrial design into a single course of study, leaving prospective students who wish to specialize in this particular field with just a handful of viable options.
4. Who/what are some of the biggest influences on your design work?
As a designer, I think it’s extremely important to pay attention to everything around me at all times. Whether I’m at the supermarket or on a bus, I always take the time to check out what other people in the industry are doing. When I’m not turning heads by studying every inch of a billboard advertisement, I generally turn to online design galleries or read books about graphic design. I’m a big fan of the yearly Web Design Index issued by the Pepin Press and I’ve recently bought a great book by Julius Wiedemann which has a fantastic collection of identity designs and features work by some of the best designers in history.
5. How do you come up with ideas for concepts after you read a buyer’s creative brief?
I usually read the brief and mark my calendar with the end of the project. After that, I usually take a couple of days to let the information soak in. During that time, I’ll think about the project and the ways I can contribute to it. Sooner or later something will usually light up inside my head. That’s when I will grab a pencil and some paper and start to sketch. For some projects I might create a mood board to help me come up with the right idea and find inspiration for the actual execution.
6. Which of your designs are your favorites and why?
I have a bit of a catullian relationship of love and hate with my designs. I’m not exactly sure why, but I am perfectly capable of unpredictably falling in love with one of my designs only to hate it the day after. I do really like how Sourceforge’s Community Choice Awards logo design came out though. I have a thing for cutesy characters – I have been drawing them for as long as I can remember. I’m also rather proud of the amount of work that went into the Culture Shock Yogurt logo – this rather complex design is the result of over fifty revisions. Ultimately, I think the print design cover I designed for the State Financial Bureau’s general 2009 outlook works great for what they wanted to achieve. They needed something that didn’t look too corporate and boring, so I thought that it’d be nifty to incorporate small squares of different colors to symbolize the variety of confusing data that was collected and make that contrast with single-colored stripes contained within a window – a graphical representation of the organization of that data as contained within the report.
7.How has technology affected your work?
I belong to what some people in the industry refer to as the ‘new generation of digital designers’. I started out as a child by doodling in Kid Pix on a black & white Mac when I was six years old and I was sketching and having fun with a very primitive tablet which connected to a TV set when I was 8. Even though I do turn to pen and paper for sketching and planning, most of my work takes place in the digital realm. I like to be up to date when it comes to software, so I use the latest version of the Adobe suite. For logos, I always go with Illustrator for scalability purposes. For everything else, a blend of Photoshop and Illustrator usually works magic. InDesign and Quark Xpress lend a hand for book layouts, and I like to code in Dreamweaver. As far as hardware goes, while I love the stability of Mac OS I find that PCs have a more effective performance / cost ratio, so I build my own boxes and use Windows. My Wacom Intuos helps me in sketching and development, and is simply a wonderful instrument to play with every now and then.
8. What are your favorite websites for inspiration or learning about graphic design?
I usually check out Flickr and deviantArt for great designer portfolios. Designworklife.com regularly features stunning designs of all kinds too. Behance is an awesome network of very talented creatives which is an amazing source of inspiration as well. Logopond is a great directory of logo and identity designs by creatives worldwide. Ultimately, crowdSPRING features an incredible amount of extremely talented creatives – just seeing everyone else’s work is immensely inspiring.
9. Please describe your typical work day.
I almost start working the moment I wake up. I usually check my emails while still drinking my morning coffee. After I’m done answering them, I usually work on crowdSPRING projects and maybe do a couple of revisions for my clients. After lunch, I usually take a small break which I spend browsing the internet for cool designs and sources for inspiration. After that, I answer more emails and get back to work on my designs. I then spend at least thirty minutes promising myself to organize my portfolio, but I really never do it as much as I’d want to. The rest of the evening is spent on sketches, production and brainstorming. I sometimes listen to the stakhanovist inside of me and work until midnight. This does prove helpful when dealing with the time zone differences between Italy and the rest of the world.
10. What are the most challenging and rewarding parts of being a graphic designer?
As a graphic designer, each project you work on represents a unique challenge. When you build up your reputation, you have to live up to the expectations you set up in the first place. You have to raise the bar further each time you face a new project and constantly learn how to be more productive and creative. When you constantly raise your game, things can get pretty stressful. When you have to deal with tight deadlines and stress and yet you’re still able to deliver quality work to a client you’ll find that it was definitely worth the sweat. Actually seeing your logo and designs on the street is also a wonderful, yet strange feeling.
11. What advice would you offer to someone considering graphics design as a career?
Read a lot. Take the time to analyze every design that gets into your house, closely study the advertisements you see on the street and ask yourself: “What was the designer trying to communicate? Did he succeed? Does this design work, and if it doesn’t, why is that?”. Value every tiny bit of feedback you receive on your work. Even if you don’t agree with what other people might have to say about your work, ask yourself why it is that you don’t think alike. Be humble, because that’s the best way to learn. And when you feel your work is great, do not be afraid to go all-in to market it.
12. What do you do with your free time?
I’m a huge videogame fan, so I play a lot. I also watch a ton of DVDs and read quite a bit. From time to time, I might enjoy a game of poker or two. I’m not really into sports, so I walk for hours and hours around the city instead. When I feel like it, I might go out for a beer (or two!) with my friends.
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