Featured Designer

Ricardo Dantas

September 2018

Ricardo is a finger in every pie kinda guy, we love how involved he is in the Type industry in Portugal and the passion he brings to every project and collaboration. He has a whole list of job titles and companies he works with which now includes TDK! We're so excited to have him onboard as our Porto City Host. In between our TDK chats we got to talk about how teaching and learning should be an ongoing affair, and how UX design has its place in the analogue world just as much as digital.

Where did you study and what were some of your first jobs?

I studied Graphic and Multimedia Design at Escola Superior de Artes e Design, ESAD.CR. After graduating, my first job was immediatly a freelance at a small advertisement agency. Later, I integrated the team of communication of an entertainment and humor cable tv channel, Canal Q, as a broadcast designer. There, I explored a different way of creating communicative products, applying handmade crafts as part of the process of development of all the static and animated materials for the channel. That was a great learning experience.

Give us the elevator pitch on what you do.

After different approaches in my design practice, I realized what I truly love is creating well thought design solutions focusing on typography and handmade processes. That was only a matter of time before I enrolled deeply on the letterpress wagon, together with Rúben Dias with whom I share a handful of projects. We developed Tipografia Dias where we create custom made, manually composed and printed letterpress solutions, such as posters, books or other types of printed materials. We also have a design studio, Itemzero, where we work with a wide range of multidisciplinary projects, mainly focusing on book design, concepting the final object from content to shape, an all thought product.

As I can't really stop for a minute, I also am part of an independent type foundry called Tipos das Letras, where we develop typography learning tools like the project RUHA stencil to complement our released typefaces.

Another growing project I'm currently involved with is an all including collective named Superlative Collective I started with Márcio Machado, a great creative and friend of mine, where we concept design and creative solutions for big projects, by assembling a dream team of the most qualified creatives specifically for each briefing and client. I juggle all these interesting projects along with some occasional design consultancy jobs and research projects.

Last but not least, I am very glad to start working with The Design Kids family as the Porto city host!

Are you involved in any mentoring /teaching /workshops and if so how it shapes your practice?

Teaching and learning should be an ongoing affair. I learn from everyone I work with, from collegues to clients. That's what is so interesting as a designer, to be able to learn more about all type of different areas while you work solutions for that specific clients.

At Tipografia Dias we often give letterpress workshops and it's such a rewarding experience, getting to know so many different approaches and mindsets, it's so overwhelming.

Apart from that, I will start this year my first experience as a teacher at my former college.


User experience is greatly associated nowadays with the digital world, but it's, in fact, a skill that is the core of the design process altogether


What advice would you give students starting out?

Start early, be eager to learn and most of all take responsibility. That's the main advice I can give, everything I accomplished was mostly due to this fact. You are young and inexperienced and the way to overpass that liability as it is perceived is to take responsibility for something and deliver it. You will fail sometimes, but that's how you learn, and if you launch yourself high enough to grab something that you end up putting the effort and make it happen, then you just proved yourself and can happily collect the perks of your hard work.

What role does digital design play in your practice in 2018, and how do you apply traditional graphic design skills in a digital age?

I'm passionate about printed objects, that's the focus of all my practice, but I don't see technology and the digital world as a monster, I'm a 90's kid so I grew during the greatest technological development era. The digital age is a part of me, the trick is how to use all these brand new tools we have access now in the most fulfilling way you may find. I create digital solutions too. What matters the most is to create something that gives the user the best possible experience, either it is handling a carefully crafted letterpress printed book or using the most mesmerizing and functional digital interface.

User experience is greatly associated nowadays with the digital world, but it's, in fact, a skill that is the core of the design process altogether. Having the user in mind applies to physical designed objects too; when we create a product, either it being choosing the layout, the materials, the textures, every little choice influences the perception of the user and how they handle or perceive the produced designed object. So, these same technologies can help designers create better and more well-thought experiences in the physical world too.

What's on the cards professionally and personally in the next 12 months?

Hopefuly, it will be a busy year. I'll be teaching a semester at ESAD.CR which will be certainly very rewarding. At Tipos das Letras we are preparing some exciting news for 2019, and also building a community in Porto with The Design Kids will be super fun, I'm sure.

There will be alot happening in Porto this year as it is a blooming city full of creatives and I hope I can be part of alot of new experiences, meet new clients and do exciting new projects.

Website: itemzero.com, tipografiadias.com, tiposdasletras.com

Instagram: @dantas_type


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