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 Rommel Rojas (crowdSPRING username: rommelrojas) today. Rommel lives and works in Valencia, Venezuela.
1. Please tell us about yourself.
My name is Rommel Rojas, I live in Valencia, Venezuela. I’m multimedia designer and amateur photographer/filmmaker. Working as a freelancer for the last 6 years, I’ve been involved in various art projects including two major art exhibitions in my country’s contemporary museum of art.
2. How did you become interested in design?
Since young I had two very defined interest: Programming and Painting. I always was that kid taking summer courses in informatics and drawing the same summer. Always surrounded by older people. The time came when I needed to choose which path to take as professional career. I chose information technologies and from that time I was submerged in all things computers but always found a way to marry art with technology. My first computer was a TRS-80 and my first coded program was a Space Battle Game. Very visual program for a computer that only runs level II BASIC (licensed by Microsoft). I’ve witnessed almost all major milestones in the Pc evolution. The internet explosion becomes the definite integration of art and technology for me and I was very interested in every aspect of web design and programing. For every web project I took the design and programming components for me and leave the content to the client. Sometimes my designs take another dimension when I animate them in flash or after effects. It is very powerful not to depend on someone else to realize that vision. Besides my commercial work I keep experimenting on digital arts, motion graphics and video art.
3. Which of your designs are your favorites and why?
Here in crowdSPRING every design I’ve done has passed a particular process but one of the most complete and rewarded until today was the “Go Dog L.A.”. I really enjoyed it because I appreciate dogs and the client was very open to ideas. Also I had the chance to experiment with the presentation of the design to the client. The client was worried about how any of the presented logos would work on different media including website, t-shirts, location signs, etc. I presented my design on a t-shirt of course but I was able to locate the facade of the actual business via Google maps Street view and make a composition with my logo in the wall, main entrance and a vehicle in order to show them how is going to look. After the project was complete we ended up sharing tips for vacation in California. I won a friend.
4. Who/what are some of the biggest influences on your design work?
Too many from different fields:
Henry Moore (sculptor),
Too many Photographers,
Dali, de Chirico and others surrealists painters,
Strong visual filmmakers as Ridley Scott, James Cameron and Stanley Kubrick.
Minimalism in Cezanne’s pieces
Special mention to John Maeda. A strong influence. He is always exploring the merge between design and technology. I think Maeda latest book (The Laws of Simplicity) is a must for all industrial and graphic designers.
5. How do you come up with ideas for concepts after you read a buyer’s creative brief?
I’ll try to explain my process:
The brief is everything. You have to learn how to extract all the info it contains. Sometimes the client is very specific but that’s not always the case. Sometimes they know want they want but don’t know how to explain it and we have to help them. Sometimes they just know what they don’t want. When there is not much info I try a least three different approaches and wait for feedback.
In all cases I always research about the idiosyncrasy of the client/group/business. The crowdSPRING model is a global model. One day I’m working on a design for a client in Ireland and the next day I’m working with someone from the States or Germany so I try to understand what symbols/ideas are more meaningful to them.
I use Wikipedia/Google for terminology and concepts then I move to photography websites for visual representation of those concepts, because of that my first mockups are silhouettes. Sometimes very concrete sometimes very abstract.
I always come back to the brief all the times I need. It is important not to lose perspective on what the client specifically wants. Sometimes I get lost on the research so a quick brief review gets me on track again. If the client has already a website, the “about” section is a must. I learn by saturation so I read/check everything several times.
Before trying to design something from scratch I check my not-approved designs to see if I already have something as a starting point for the new project. There is a lot of blood, sweat and tears on those designs and usually I find something to start with.
Sometimes for me is faster to work on an idea on paper, sometimes on the computer. When the idea is just words or geometric forms usually I work on the computer. Silhouettes, organic forms, script fonts are worked on paper.
Only the best/strong ideas go to the computer. Sometimes I scan the paper ideas or take a picture with my phone.
Usually I check the project gallery to see how my design is going to fit in the already populated gallery. I try to make my design stand from the thumbnail view with a clear, readable font and appropriated background, something to invite the client to see it in a bigger size.
The last thing but not less important for me is the client feedback. I’m always trying to get the most from the client mind as I can. My approach is talking to them. With every design I explain my idea behind the design I’m showing to him. This is important. And most of the time it creates a special relationship between you and client. Even if you don’t win the contest you benefit from the feedback he give you in the process so you can analyze why you failed to understand or materialize his vision. I write to them during to whole crowdSPRING experience: from the new projects invitations, to the submission, to the wrap-up process.
6.Mac or PC?
Been a programmer since very young give a special relation to computers hardware and software. Especially PCs. I’ve been able to get inside the hardware and change components and know how is all that related to software performance can give you a very clear vision on what you can do with a computer.
After so many years working on both platforms I can say that, at least for me, the PC platform is very powerful creating content but the Mac is by far the platform of choice when I want to consume that content.
I won’t change my Desktop PC when I need to design with powerful tools (I got the same power as a Mac but half the price) but I’ll show my designs on my iPad or iPhone.
For me the PC is the artist studio. The Mac is the Gallery.
When I’m on my desktop usually use Google Chrome for research and CorelDraw X5 for the design process. If the project needs it I use a 3D package for different approach even if the final product is a simple 2D vector. When the project requires a font treatment usually I use a font visualizer to compare the same text with all my installed fonts. Then pass all designs trough Adobe Illustrator/Photoshop in order to export compatible finals. When I’m on the move usually I bring my iPad to check on CrowdSPRING projects listing and a notebook to work on sketches.
7. What is your dream design project?
That will be something with:
A theme that I really like.
A balanced timeframe/award (Not that $6000-one month-12000 designs contest, I think clients cannot make a good evaluation with that amount of options)
A client that knows what he wants but gives you some freedom to experiment and is open to new ideas even outside the brief.
Clear feedback from the client on every design or a least on one.
Winning design that has a powerful repercussion on the client and on his clientele.
8. How do you promote your work?
All by referral. Since I went freelance all my work have come from reference by an old design work or client. Of course I have a website for my local business (www.metactiva.com). I got presence in all the social networks but I just use it for personal/photography stuff. I think I’ll integrate my local business with my crowdSPRING designs when I get a more complete body of work. Lately I’ve been showing my crowdSPRING logo portfolio on the iPad. It just looks fantastic.
9. Please describe your typical work day.
Usually wake up at mid-morning. I spent the rest of the morning updating already won designs with new requirements from clients, finishing files and making sure they are happy with those files.
Work/research on new ideas for last yesterday designs.
When everything is quiet and the phones aren’t ringing is when I become more creative. This is the time for me to choose new projects and create. This goes usually until 2 am. (This is an old habit from my programming/student days).
10. What are other ways you use your creativity?
I’m always exploring all styles of photography from landscape to portrait. There is so much knowledge about composition, light, and expression. This discipline is a never-ending source of inspiration and a unique form of expression.
As with photography films are an extension of an initial design/idea. From my handmade storyboard to the edited scene.
I’ve become attracted to gourmet cooking for my family/friends. My sister says that it is a logical step for me because this requires a lot of ingredients and creativity. I don’t know I just like the holistic idea of making something bigger than the sum of their parts.
I play guitar. When I have the time I play with friends but usually I just play for me to relax or simply enjoy music. Remixing or recreating my favorite songs on the computer.
11. If you weren’t designing, what would you be doing?
Full time programming or anything Science/Astronomy related.
I love programming but it’s too much time-consuming. Usually I’m learning new ActionScript techniques or Web Standards. Surely if I wasn’t designing I’ll be programming for a web studio/company.
Science and Astronomy were very strong influences since child. Any activity related to space research can give same satisfaction than the design world.
12. What do you do with your free time?
The first thing is to get offline the net as soon as I can. Then my priorities are: Girlfriend, Family, Friends (We create sort of a Wine Club as an excuse to stay in touch and learn about wines from around the world), Photography, Cinema, Tutorials (I try to consume anything I can from design principles to very specific 3D techniques).
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