"The concept is everything for a good design"
SILICA is a graphic designer based in Barcelona. Inspired by sunsets, landscapes, retro-futurism and science fiction. He loves to play with colors and create unique palettes and dazzling effects, create worlds with my works of art, futuristic situations and imagine new landscapes to discover. We talked to him about her work and her artistic interests.
Tell me a bit about yourself and your current situation.
4 years ago I started with my alias SILICA to specialize in design for music as a result of creating my own record label, in which we published our own music on vinyl and of course, I was in charge of all the design part as well. At that time, friends from the music scene started contacting me to design artworks for their record labels and events around the world. Word of mouth led me to work for major labels like SNTS Records or Edit Select, I even created the branding and all the aesthetics of SNTS 'secondary label, Sacred Court, from the beginning. In this last year I decided to apply all the work I had learned about textures and colors in a way closer to cyberpunk, retrofuturism, anime "seinen" and all those things that freak me out. As a result of that movement I began to publish my works more regularly online and that gave me way for many more people to know me. I've even been working on video clips lately...
What’s changed in art and design education since you graduated?
Absolutely everything. Younger people now have access to millions of images, resources and inspiration that make them more versatile when it comes to designing. They have a brain full of ideas, although unfortunately the vast majority simply follow currents and fail to express anything with their work. But there are undoubtedly many young designers out there with impressive talent.
How important is a formal qualification in design today?
Following on from the answer above, I think that by knowing the basic rules of design you can start creating designs yourself. For example, I spent 5 years studying design and 4 more studying illustration, that gave me a work discipline that I now apply in my position as a Freelance, I suppose that many new designers will lack that, but in return those who have that discipline They have thousands of self-study courses on YouTube and other platforms. Another thing is savoir-faire, I think that you have it inside and I do not think it is impossible to educate yourself in that aspect. But if it is going to be much more complicated for you if you don't have it, and for me in graphic design, it is an essential requirement to have a good eye, both critical and self-critical.
How else can designers distinguish themselves, especially if it’s right out of school and they’re trying to find work?
This is going to be answered by everyone, because it is a typical answer, but "be yourself" is the definitive value to become a great designer. There are hundreds of thousands of "designers" today, but not many have a style of their own. In short, if there are 200 designers and of those, 190 are copied from the other 10, we already know who will find a job in the future. If someone wants to hire a designer and sees that there are 190 people who do the same thing but one does it differently, the client will always want the most exclusive work and that can only be achieved with personality.
What are your personal challenges and inspirations? What inspires and motivates you today?
I have come to a time that everything I do motivates me, perhaps because I found my own way years ago. But yes, I would have to say that when I was in that situation, I loved seeing how other designers worked and, above all, consuming A LOT of culture. I inflated myself to watch anime, to buy video games, to consume movies, to buy figures, to listen to a lot of music ... and I still do all that, so that's why I can explain my motivations and inspirations.
Who or what has been your biggest design influence—and why?
Among many I think The Designers Republic and Katsuhiro Otomo, but I have hundreds more that have gotten into my head at some point in my life and have created a great mass on which my works are based today.
How has the type of work you do changed from the early days?
It has been continuous learning and continues to be, currently I am learning a little bit 3D to incorporate it into my designs, in my own way, and it is giving me very good results. This is a profession that asks you to be on the crest of the wave continuously and if you like to do these kinds of things already at the base, you are interested in that type of technology.
What do you enjoy the most about design?
Certainly the colors. It's what I like to work on the most. But in general I like all the design, I HATE making logos, it is something so technical that I do not give myself room to express myself, so I do them because they are part of my work, but I do not feel 100% comfortable with it.
After so long, how do you value your work?
At first, as you can imagine, it did not charge the same as I charge now for a design. I learned to criticize myself, and that helped me to value my work little by little and when the time came, ask for more money when I really deserved it.
What kind of music would your designs sound like?
Techno, Shoegaze and ambient without a doubt. It is also the music that I used to do with my partner Miguel, with the Agnosia project, so I think everything goes hand in hand. When they asked me for covers at the beginning and the clients were locked in the idea that Techno covers had to be in Black and White because it was very "darks" I always answered them: "But hey, your music has colors, right?" and with that phrase they were calm and they left me to my air. Then they were very grateful because that made them stand out from the great mass of producers that made techno in black and white. In short, if you listen to my music you will be able to see for yourself how the colors of the artwork sound on the tracks.
How important is the study of typographic fonts in a world like today?
It is gaining a lot of importance in recent years as designers are increasingly encouraged to create custom fonts, personally it is a pending task that I have, I really like to see a good custom lettering, it gives off personality!
Do you think that the necessary value is not given to the typography?
As I said before, at this moment if it is beginning to be given the value it deserves, I also believe that the position of typographic work in design has never been undermined, if I would like to say that it has been modernized late, before it was seen a fairly stagnant and old world. There are still people using Helveticas in designs that pretend to be transgressors, and at least for me, it doesn't strain.
When you start a job, what do you analyze first? Where does inspiration come from?
The concept. The concept is everything for a good design, it can be very beautiful and very colorful, but if it does not have a story behind, it is not worth anything. And I'm not referring to those Helvetica-era designs, in which designers put a letter and a shape creating an umbrella or whatever they wanted to represent and then said "this means such and this means which", that for me became fashionable , making shapes with typography or things for style are no longer valid in this world in which aesthetics count so much. If you have a basic concept, everything flows and everything will be much more beautiful if you package it in a powerful graphic style.
How would you describe your work to someone who hasn’t seen it before?
I don't like talking about my work with anyone, so it's one thing that I avoid a lot. I like to be criticized by who has to criticize me and I do not like flattery at all, I feel uncomfortable, and more knowing that I can always do things better. It is a constant self-punishment, and that is a virtue, never seeing yourself ready or in your final form pushes you to always improve yourself.
What work would you highlight and would you like to tell?
I would highlight several of my works, especially my last works always. As I said before I never see my final form and I am always learning new things, so I would always highlight the last things I am designing.
How do you lead yourselves from concept to design?
For me there are two things that go hand in hand and I don't usually have a marked transition, let's say I substitute that transition by trying things like color palettes or work in general to fit the main idea.
Where do the ideas come from?
From day to day and consuming a lot of culture, reading a simple word or listening to a song can trigger a poster or a complete design in my head.
What’s been the most satisfying project you have worked on?
Without a doubt the video clip “Panini” for Lil Nas X, I learned so much in such a short time to make designs to be animated later, that it was like a race against the clock for me. When you are so forced to do something that you don't master quickly, you learn a lot. The end result of working with director Mike Diva and working telematically with people as strong in design and 3D as Aeforia or Fvckrender was quite an experience.
What part of the design process gives you the most satisfaction? Give us the top 3 tips for inspiring young designers.
The color. Be yourself. Don't stop learning. Do not stop consuming everything you like.
What are you excited to have coming up in the future?
I am currently working on the complete design of a music festival, it is a fairly large project and I am very excited to see how I perform in such work.
Why do we need branding?
Branding is equipàrable to the face of a pretty girl or a good dish. If it doesn't get through your eyes, you won't eat it. In this world with so much competition, if you don't have good branding, you are NOT going to succeed, and therefore people are not going to consume you. Considering the importance of keeping current, how do you keep up? What are the current trends in packaging, color, design, architecture… As I said before, I am currently learning 3D, the current is quickly going to 3D due to the explosion of the world of video games, so it does not hurt to learn it and apply it to my designs in my own way. Custom fonts are hitting hard to set you apart from other designers and regarding color palettes, I recommend all emerging designers to lock themselves up at home for days to create their own palettes, to study them, to try them, to adore and then use them in your public projects.
Do you think ego is an important aspect within a designer’s work?
More than ego, what many designers need is to be very self-critical with their own work, if it does not convince you, it will not convince anyone.
Which people working today in graphic design do you enjoy the work of?
Several designers that I see on instagram are very powerful and I love their work such as @safehaven_hq, @paranoidmeart, @aeforia, @tomarena...
What are your thoughts on specialization vs generalization?
Death to the generalization in design, shoemaker to your shoes, you cannot cover a world that is so big, it is as if you put to direct a Disney movie to Rob Zombie. If you specialize in something you are going to be much better at it and the clients who demand that type of design will contact you. It didn't start working for me until I specialized. Mind you, I am not saying that designers get caught in something very specific, it is okay to try new things, but if you do not look prepared do not get into an eleven bullet shirt.