Featured Creatives

Serafim Mendes

February 2019

Serafim Mendes had a flash website by the time he was 8 (true story) and is currently working on his master's degree in Communication Design — his can-do attitude is so inspiring. He tells us about his final master's degree project, Post-print, that combines Graphic Design, 3D and Augmented Reality, and we discuss the pros & cons of freelancing from home.

Any hilarious stories about you as a kid being creative?

I started 'playing' with Photoshop when I was 5 or 6 years old. My father had it installed on his computer and while he was out working I would go and create random things just to pass time. The first image I made was a photomontage where I placed myself next to a giant praying mantis – I really liked them. I have been using Photoshop ever since. By the time I was 8 I had a personal website in Flash and some months later one in HTML.

Photoshop was like a hobby to me and most of the time I was creating my profile pictures and signatures for online gaming communities (forums). Eventually I started studying graphic design and doing more serious work with it. I believe that my past experience with the software gave me the upper hand technically and it gave me confidence to learn all the other softwares.

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

I studied a Multimedia course in high school and it led to my first design job. We had to do an internship in the last year and I chose a graphic design studio in my hometown. Despite being a multimedia course, some teachers were graphic designers and they inspired me to pursue that path. I spent some months in a small studio, working with small businesses, which made me sure I wanted to study it further. One year later I enrolled in a graphic design BA in ESAD Caldas da Rainha and now I'm working on my master's degree in Communication Design at ESAD Matosinhos while freelancing.

Did you have a plan for graduation and what actually happened?

As mentioned before, my BA was in graphic design but there's a bit more to it. The course was actually called Graphic Design & Multimedia. I liked the combination of both and it seemed like the perfect combination for my taste. It was only when classes started that I realized we only studied both areas in the first year. In the second year I had to choose between Graphic Design OR Multimedia. I was really torn and, for the first few months, I kept saying to myself that I would choose Multimedia to continue what I had been learning for 3 years in high school. However, during these two semesters I started leaning more towards Graphic Design and some teachers encouraged me to choose it, which I later did. It wasn't part of my plan, but I am really happy with the outcome so far.

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I enjoy the mix of technology and design – if the technology is out there and can help us create meaningful work, why not make use of it?

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Give us the elevator pitch on what you do.

I would say I am a graphic designer with a slightly different toolkit than what I consider usual. I work in projects that involve typography, 3D illustration/animation, motion design and I have been learning to use augmented reality as a medium, for my master's degree final project (Post-print). Because of my background in multimedia and the huge amount of tutorials I watched while growing up, I became very confident when it comes to learn new things. All the 3D I know is self-taught, either from trial and error or watching tutorials and online courses. I enjoy the mix of technology and design – if the technology is out there and can help us create meaningful work, why not make use of it?

What are some of the best and worse parts of your job, day-to-day.

I really enjoy freelancing, but it has its disadvantages. For instance, I like the freedom it gives me – the fact I can choose the projects I work with is one of the biggest advantages. I also define my own work schedule but that's not always an easy task. Right now I work from home because it helps me concentrate better when I am writing my master's thesis, but as soon as I finish this step I will find a co-working space with friends and colleagues. Working from home can be isolating, and getting feedback or discussing ideas with other people as you progress can be very positive. I don't really enjoy the 'business' side of freelancing - not only you have to do the work itself, but you have to constantly promote it to find new projects, and for clients to find you. I don't like pursuing payments and it can get quite unstable financially. I think that at the end of the day, there isn't a right choice between working full-time in a studio/agency or freelancing. It's a matter of weighing pros and cons and, for me, I prefer the freelance route – for now. Eventually, I would like to form a small team to be able to accept more (and bigger) projects.

Any passion projects/collabs you would like to share?

Sure. I'd like to share my project Post-print. To put it simply, it's an exploration I've been working on as my final master's degree project that combines Graphic Design, 3D and Augmented Reality. The result is a series of 15 posters that can be scanned using my app (Post-print) which brings them to life with real-time animation in 3D space, allowing people to discover a second part of the message. It was a very challenging and demanding project but I am really excited with the result so far. My plan, when I finish writing the thesis, is teaming up with an experienced developer and take the project to the next level. I think the true potential of augmented reality can only be unlocked through the collaboration of designers and developers, in order to create more advance interactions with the viewer. There's a more detailed explanation of the project at post-print.com and I have been using instagram as the platform to share the progress.

Website: serafimmendes.com

Instagram: @serafim.mendes

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