Featured Studio

Sonia Castillo Studio

February 2019

We chat with Founder & Creative Director of Sonia Castillo Studio — Sonia Castillo! Sonia gives us her top 3 must-read books for designers starting out, she shares her 2019 goal to focus on more personal projects and gives some of the best straightforward advice for new grads.

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

I was very clear from a very young age that I wanted to link my studies with the world of design and creative field. At that time few schools in Madrid offered what I was looking for, study multidisciplinary disciplines in which one could learn in a more artistic and handcrafted way, so I finally began to study Fine Arts in UCM (Madrid). After a few years in Madrid, I had the opportunity to study in Germany and specialize in graphic design. I studied at the HAWK Hochschule für angewandte Wissenschaft und Kunst (Hildesheim), a university located in a small town, but where the professors and subjects were magnificent and of exceptional quality. I was always influenced and fascinated by German design, so it was a great opportunity for me to finish my studies in this country. Today I think it has been a great influence on me to study both careers, as it has given me an artistic background that is often reflected in my work.

After finishing my studies, I was very lucky that many studios were interested in my portfolio and offered me to work directly as a junior designer. First I worked in a studio specializing in packaging in Barcelona and a few months later I was offered to work in a design studio in Madrid. The working environment was very pleasant and the team was made up of only a few people, so thanks to being a very familiar studio, I was lucky enough to work directly with the client and manage many projects in spite of my youth. I firmly believe that my decision to work in smaller studios since the beginning of my career has greatly influenced me to establish myself and create my own studio.

What are your three must-read design books/blogs/podcasts and why?

I could name a long list of books, but these are the books that marked me the most when I started and that I still keep with care:

  • The Art of Looking Sideways / Alan Fletcher: A book that I found by chance while I was studying at the university and I keep it as a treasure. It is an introduction to visual intelligence and an exploration of the functioning of the eye, hand, brain and imagination. In it you can find all kinds of anecdotes, quotes, images, curiosities and useless information, rarities, serious science, jokes and memories, all concerned with the interaction between the verbal and the visual, and the unlimited resources of the human mind.

  • How to be a Graphic Designer Without Losing Your Soul - Adrian Shaughnessy: A book that I'm sure they recommend a lot, but it's a great must-have book for designers just starting their careers. It offers direct advice on how to set up your design career and suggestions that they don't teach at university.

  • The Little Know-it-All: Common Sense for Designers / Silja Bilz: This book is one of the first books I had on design and still have. It has everything you need to get started in the profession and is possibly one of the most useful books you will have as a designer. Everything from light, colour and perspective to law and marketing is included in this book.

Who are your top five design crushes globally right now?

There are so many designers and design studios that help me find inspiration and I admire their work that it is very difficult to make a small selection… Among many others, I could choose these five right now:

Les Graphiquants (Paris, France) > http://les-graphiquants.fr

Hey Studio (Barcelona, Spain) > https://heystudio.es

The Studio (Stockholm, Sweden) > http://the-studio.se

Vrints-kolsteren (Antwerp, Belgium) > https://www.vrints-kolsteren.com

Studio South (Auckland, New Zealand) > http://www.studiosouth.co.nz

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Look for inspiration in the great masters of art, architecture, product design... so that every project you start has a powerful conceptual background.

"

Whats the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

“Design for clients, not for Designers”

One of the best tips I've ever been given, you don’t Design for your Portfolio, you Design for the Clients. We designers always think about the feedback our work will get of others designers, but we must never forget that our job is to find the best solutions to the problems our clients offer us.

What advice would you give students graduating in 2019?

Don't be afraid to experiment on your work.

Start personal projects to find and define your own style and voice in design.

Don't be afraid to make mistakes, because this way we can learn.

And above all, stay away from the screens and try not to look for inspiration in the work of other designers. Look for inspiration in the great masters of art, architecture, product design... so that every project you start has a powerful conceptual background.

2019 for you in a sentence.

“Experiment, play and enjoy!”

After several years working on projects with clients and full time, the design finally becomes a mere job and a bit of the illusion of the beginning is lost. This year I decided that personal projects have to take up more time in my work, to experiment, conceptualize and play. I'm also starting new business projects that pose an exciting professional challenge. I hope in this year 2019 they come to light.

Website: soniacastillo.com

Instagram: @soniacastillostudio

Twitter: @soniacastillost

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