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Interview with Ricardo Gimenes

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You may already know about the blog, Behind the Websites. In today's interview we're going to meet Ricardo Gimenes, illustrator and founder of the site. Ricardo is a São Paulo based Brazilian designer and illustrator who has worked with variety of clients around the world. He says he has been drawing ever since he was a young boy and he loves to express his thoughts through illustration. intrinsically humorous, Ricardo shares with us how he got started in the field of illustration, about his work, his design style and more.

Q Hi Ricardo, how are you today? Tell us a little about yourself, where do you come from? What's a typical workday like for you?

I'm good, thanks. I'm Brazilian, born in São Paulo. Every day is different from the last but a typical day usually starts with having coffee with my wife, emails, twitter, rss, no more than 1 hour and then I start working on creative things, usually illustrations, website design, logos, for no more than 2 hours and then back to circle coffee-email-twitter-rss again. I have a good work/life balance, usually the best ideas come from different places, like the cinema, supermarket, gym, etc.

Q How did you get your start in the creative industry? Do you have any formal education in this field or are you self-taught? What was your first design job? How long have you been illustrating and designing?

Ever since I was young boy, I liked to draw. My dream was to draw the Coca-Cola truck. However, at the time my drawing skills weren't great, so my mom enrolled me to take drawing lessons. I was thirteen at the time and I spent 6 months learning how to draw circles, animals, mouth, hands, light and shadows... but no Coca-Cola truck. I continued for the next 3 years, during which time I learned basic paste-up skills for commercial ads. It was 1991 and I didn't have a computer yet. It was also around that time that I really got into copying cartoon characters like Turma da Mônica, a creation of Mauricio de Souza, one of the most famous Brazilian cartoonists.

I think my interest in drawing started with examples I had at home. My mom has always painted portraits, and my sister, she was like an art ninja, painted everything from nails to T-shirts and art crafts.

I've been studying since I was thirteen. I later graduated in Art and Communication from the Panamericana School of Art and Design in São Paulo. More recently I have taken courses in Digital Cinema and Art Direction. Besides that, I have learnt quite a lot of computer skills myself, like Illustrator, Photoshop, Flash, etc.

Q You have a well-defined, colorful, and fun-filled style to your illustrations. How did this develop? What excites you about vector art and illustration? What software drives your creative workflow?

"LSD" just kidding! I love psychedelic art, I'm trying to drive my style to this way, that's why I use vibrant colors and style. I think illustration is how I can express my thoughts, I tried the music but definitely it is not my cup of tea. I use Illustrator for illustrations and InDesign for editorial jobs, I can't live without both.

Q Tell us about your blog, Behind the Websites? What initiated the project, what was the idea and inspiration behind it? What is the most important thing that you have accomplished with it? Has it helped you land projects, collaborate, or discover interesting opportunities?

This project illustrates what people think about some websites. Every week (day) a new illustration comes up here. Be part of it and let me know what you think about 'Behind the Websites'.

Behind the websites was born when I was working on a very boring project (the project was cool but the client was terrible). After 5000 changes requested from "the art director client" I sent the final design. After I sent it I was imagining the client looking at his computer and saying: "It's beautiful, perfect! but I want to change the color, and the font size a little, and swap the photo..." This was when I had an idea to illustrate the client behind the website and only complain. I didn't illustrate the client but it was the beginning of behind the websites. Also it happened three days before my birthday, so it was a gift to myself. Before Behind The Websites I used to spent 60% of my time with motion graphics, 30% with art direction for magazines and web and about 10% with illustrations. Today I'm spending 80% of time with illustrations and the other 20% with art directions, motion, web, etc.

Q Walk us through your creative process. You do a lot of character illustrations, what are the key points that you keep in mind when designing a character? Would you also like to share with us your favorite Illustrator tip or technique?

For characters I always start with the most significant characteristic of the person, it could be big eyes, square chin, sometimes hair, I don't have a specific order to start a design. My favorite illustrator tip/technique is called "Xtream Path", it's a fantastic plugin, this is how illustrator should be.

Q We see your cartoons on Smashing Magazine, how did the project evolve? How do you get the ideas for these cartoons? Do you see yourself doing more work for various creative blogs in the future?

I'm so happy with SmashingMag cartoons, I'm totally free to design everything related with design and development. The ideas come from twitter, design communities, feedbacks, emails (lots of people are sending me ideas for cartoons), Vitaly (SmashingMag editor) also sends me good ideas. Sure, I'll be happy to work for various creative blogs, someone? Vectortuts+? Nice!

Q What are you working on currently, any interesting or exciting projects? Is there a dream project you would like to work on? What would it be?

I'm illustrating a children's book of a famous TV artist in Brazil which takes me a lot of time. My dream project is to direct a film, so I have started studying cinema direction.

Q What artists or designers have had the greatest impact on you? What consistently inspires you? What would you list as your favorite websites?

Arthur de Pins, his illustrations are fantastic, amazing drawings, sexy and funny, he is a master of shading. I have some sites which inspires me, like Abduzeedo, Fuel your Creativity, Tuts+, Yay! Everyday, mymodernmet.com, sincerely I don't have a favorite one I'm always looking for a different sites.

Q We can't resist asking, what do you see behind our website, Vectortuts+?

Take a look on the 1st of August, "Behind" will be back with Vectortuts+.

Q Ricardo thanks for the interview. What advice would you like to give to aspiring designers and illustrators?

Don't worry about finding your own style quickly. It will happen naturally by practicing. Expose yourself! Send your artwork to magazines, sites, blogs, etc. Make your own website or blog. Finally, even if a job seems to be boring, try to learn and see the positive side of it. As Eric Idle says, "Always look on the light side of life", and if possible, go abroad and experience different cultures.

Ricardo Gimenes on Web

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