Dev Valladares

We caught up with Indian designer Dev Valladares. Dev talked to us about the importance of implementing love into your life, his love for learning multiple design tools, and some exciting side projects he's been working on!

What did you do while you were studying to prepare you for the design industry?

First, I tried to understand as many tools as I could. In my undergraduate years ,at Srishti in Bangalore, I pushed myself to learn motion graphics using After Effects and 3D design using Cinema 4D. Now, at MICA in Baltimore, I’ve learned the basics of type design, how to code in javascript (2D with p5.js and 3D with Three.js) and – perhaps the most rewarding of all – I learned how to create music using VCV Rack. Being fluent with software, not just Illustrator and Photoshop, lets you execute ideas in new ways. You can now surprise Art Directors and Clients by going well beyond what you were expected to do.

Learning gets much harder once you’re working in the industry. The last thing you want to do when you get home home ,exhausted after your 8-hour work day, is to stare at a screen.

Second, I began my day scrolling through the curated sections of Behance. It’s not the healthiest practice, nor is Behance the best place to do this, but what I subconsciously gained in the process was absorbing what polished, “well-designed” work looked like.

How did you develop your style and what tips would you have for others?

If I had to label my style, I would probably call it ‘anti-style’. I actively avoid doing something I have done before. There are so many new things to explore. I want to be able to try everything before I decide on a single thing! But, this quality stems from being very indecisive and makes it impossible to decide on anything, even what to eat at restaurants!

To others I would say keep experimenting until you find something that is both new and that works for you. Keep surprising yourself.

Radiate love into work, into relationships, into life. It’s so simple, love seems to purify everything. You tend to stop overthinking and second-guessing yourself, you naturally drift towards that which brings you joy.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Radiate love into work, into relationships, into life. It’s so simple, love seems to purify everything. You tend to stop overthinking and second-guessing yourself, you naturally drift towards that which brings you joy. It tends to get you into a flow state easier too.

I realised at some point just how true all the clichés are (I also know it’s cliché to say ‘the clichés are true’). Carl Jung said, “Ultimate truth, if there be such a thing, demands the concert of many voices”.  Love seems to run the world.

What advice would you give students graduating in 2021?

On the other end of that spectrum, we have social media and all the negativity it catalyses. Yet, we’re at an age in the industry that relies almost exclusively on it. My advice would be to put your work out there! Social media is the new portfolio. Opportunities gradually start flowing your way. Humblebrag: my Instagram led to my internship at BUCK this summer and I recently go the opportunity to work with the The New York Times. I would previously never have even entertained these possibilities. Suddenly, through the positive aspects of social networks, they were reality.

Any passion projects/collabs you would like to share?

Hopefully this can brighten up your day. Thinking about aesthetics last year, I’d been getting worked up about trendy, postmodern graphic design edging closer and closer to looking like the memes I’d see on reddit. It just didn’t make sense to me how one could un-ironically make design work that was almost indistinguishable from jokes other people were making. So I created an alter-ego called Graphic Design Meme Lord to critique the system from the inside and because I love making memes and really felt that FOMO. The project culminated in an AR project and finding answers in Friedrich Nietzsche’s Dionysian.

Bonus: Thanks to Memelord, some months later at BUCK, I was put on an online-gaming pitch that needed their ‘memeist designers’. For two weeks, I was essentially paid to make memes. It was surreal.

Where do you think design is heading in the next five years and how will you adapt?

The ground is shifting as we speak with the current NFT boom. The more followers you have, the higher your art sells. Suddenly the purpose of artwork isn’t going to be to push boundaries or get a job at a good studio; it’s work primarily designed to grow and sell to your social media audience. Everyone is going to want to be an influencer.

It’s a slightly dystopian future. I know I will eventually get into the space, but I’ll do my best to keep my principles intact, hopefully radiating some love while I’m at it!

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