We could say that what we do mainly is work with letters in a lot of different ways, always aiming to communicate graphically.
We are both Graphic Designers with a postgraduate course in Type Design, and in addition to that Guille is as keen to illustration as Yani is to calligraphy. We have tried since the very beginning to mix those disciplines up with the only purpose of getting something new, some way to see and develop art and communication in a previously unknown way. A little bit utopian but that philosophy always crosses our way of thinking each new project. How to make it different, how to make it new, bright, and how to make it our own even though the final product might be representing some else’s ideas.
We wake up everyday at 7am, have breakfast with our little son –León. Guille walks him to kindergarten a few blocks from our home-studio. Then we start our working day sharing some “mate” together while going over all the projects that are running. Then we take some time to catch up with all the incoming emails, and finally at 11am we could say that our engine goes at full speed. Depending on the day, we might work a lot by hand, on paper –or when there is not much time using the iPad–. Maybe we could spend a whole day or two without going through our computers, sketching with pencils, ink, calligraphy tools until we have all the material we need to go to the next stage of our design process.
To get into a working mood we love listening to the radio or also a lot of music. Jazz, hard rock, and even 90s pop –not ashamed at all!
It’s important to highlight that sometimes the greatest clients are not the ones that have a well known name in the market. It’s very disappointing when this happens, and it does more often than we could wish. Of course that the level of exposure a big brand might give to your work is relevant, for us to feel that we were the right ones for that project is even more important at the time of deciding to work with a client or not. In other words, we prefer those clients that understand and value our skills and what we have to offer, over a number in a budget.
We learnt with time that what we really crave for in a client is CONFIDENCE. His confidence put in us as a team to solve his design needs, and in our working methods as well. An ideal client is that one that does not compare your work to a reference image or to the work of a colleague, but that trusts that we are able to take his ideas and make them grow in something different and new.
Don’t rush. We progressively developed our skills since we first met and started our project together, and let our experience reach some mature point over time. People are not born one day and the next day become great professionals, even though social networks let us see and consume other’s work in a way that makes us believe so. We might think “wow, these great artist or designer became such a hit overnight!”. But mostly it’s not really the case, but a great deal of hard work. Time spent trying to get better everyday, one step at a time, and not stopping doing that until the end of time. We still drive our professional careers with that in mind: Try to get a little bit better everyday, and you will.
Working as a team and growing each other’s abilities both in illustration and calligraphy, was what really made us discover how to engage those fields into one consistent thing. It obliged us to establish working methods, and those methods began to reach a particular kind of result. That creative path is what really defined our style in a way, it allowed us to go somewhere with all the techniques we developed. And it’s a living thing, meaning it continuously changes, as we change or evolve our methods differently.
However, this didn’t happen by magic. In our case it came always by the hand of education, taking calligraphy classes, studying illustration, attending lettering workshops, studying Type Design at college. All that training allowed us to feel at home within a field that we slowly started to build, going from being self-taught to a professional level.
In order to be able to shape a style of our own in a world crowded with reference images and graphic trends in social media, it’s essential to first think of personal interests –what is our comfort zone– and what can be done to get better. These ideas can find answers through other questions like Do I like to draw by hand? or Do I like to draw at a digital tablet?, What graphic style can represent my intentions the most?, What are my idols and which where theirs?. Also, go out. Walk your city, as your place defines your way of thinking more than you can even think of. Let yourself experiment and make mistakes.
Our process has two main instances apart from planning. And it isn’t necessarily related to the quality (whether it’s a sketch or a final piece) but depends directly to the kind of job. One instance is the material one, defined and conditioned by the hand merged with tools, ink, paper. It could be a rough sketch, or a thoroughly detailed final piece. The other instance is the digital part. Ruled by the computer, it used to take part only in the design process but recently the iPad took place at the initial sketching stages as well. So currently it’s a continuous mix coming from and going to digital, and analog, then digital again.
The work of the hand builds our essence. Drawing with pencil, tracing letters with metallic nibs or markers, getting dirty with graphite and ink; we still couldn’t find a way to replace those. It embodies what we do with such a unique mark impossible to achieve by other means.
Digital tools let us speed up the implementation of our handmade designs, and also give us the chance to perfectly correct the imperfections we weren’t specifically looking for on the paper.