Today, we are joined by Marco Hernandez .he is a Graphic Designer You can view his portfolio here.
Tell us about your graphic design career. How did you break into graphic design, and how did you advance to where you are today?
As a child I wanted to be a doctor, of course, before discovering that arts were my thing. However, I have found that these other interests and contents are deeply tied to what I do every day.
By focusing on information design, I found that the most effective is to become a doctor if we talk about medicine, a detective speaking of events, an astronaut if we talk of space …
The point is that it is not possible to design if you do not know all the details of what you’re trying to tell. We are visual historians, a visual journalist.
My career began on the advertising design side. I started working at a small advertising agency when I was halfway through my college program, which gave me great experiences in the world of design. However, before that, I had peeked in Madrid (Spain) some Latin American culture courses, and research methodology and humanities in San José (Costa Rica) in state universities, but nothing came out of it.
A few years later, I wanted to bring more arts training that was where I really wanted to go so I started a bachelor of arts degree with an emphasis in graphic design; while this was happening, I decided to supplement with some courses at the Faculty of Letters of the University of Costa Rica in foreign languages.
Without realizing it, the mixture I had done had brought me closer to editorial design where I happily develop. I had become information designer, so after that I sought to strengthen the weaker areas of my basic training and communication; for example, some workshops among which are those of the University of Navarra (Spain) helped me to develop better communication method through the graphics.
What do you enjoy most about your career?
I think what I enjoy the most, is being able to immerse myself in a subject, and suddenly switch to something else completely different. While this is a computer job , the time I have been designing info-graphics has been very dynamic. In my experiences I have attended coronary lectures to draw a graph on a novel medical surgery procedure, and a few days later, a helicopter-tour to present a graphical report on a new road that had structural problems, or something as simple as a visit to a rice plantation surrounded by animals and long growing areas to graph the process that follows the grain of rice from the land that germinates to the dishes served at a restaurant … I live so in love with my career because it is alive, always changing, you never know where you’ll be in a few months and each of those graphs deliveries make me learn a little bit more. That’s priceless, and well paid to do that.
What were the biggest inspirations for your career?
Inspiration can come from almost anywhere, but much comes from the inheritance left by school and the career as well; but I cannot deny that it is good to see what other people do around the world.Everyone should develop a style, discover what they do best, and apply it in their field. For example, in the artistic side, I could say that Fernando Baptista of National Geographic Magazine is a god of classical info-graphics. His style is undeniably great, other exponents as Adolfo Arranz and most recently in the South China Morning Post, Alberto Lucas, both are great examples also to monitor. On the flip side of information design there are people like Nicholas Felton and Density Design Agency Italy, I have always loved the designs of this type, facing masses of data and projecting much housekeeping. Some other people also influence what we do every day, many of the theoretical underpinnings come from experience from friends like Alberto Cairo at the University of Miami. The crazy things you see in the designs of Jaime Serra de Vanguardia of Barcelona and the cultural passion that is printed on the charts in Brazil by Alessandro Alvim O Globo. I think everything is always present there, for some jobs one consults the memories, people, including events such as the SND (Society for News Design) or Malofiej. I think I am a kind of Frankenstein assembled from parts of people, books and experiences.
What are some favorite projects you’ve completed and why?
I really enjoy almost all my projects, but some of them, have been special because of the unexpected circumstances that develop or the results that go beyond what we have thought. For example one of those was the info-graphic poster of SUE, the Dinosaur of the traveling exhibition by the Chicago Museum. The project was quite interesting because of the subject, but also presented challenges in production. The work was extended to the whole team of info-graphics to attract the best of each individual talent. Eventually, the poster circulated, and closing the year was sent to contest Malofiej 18, where that work won a silver medal in the category of promotional. Although it was not the first medal of the graphics department of “La Nación”, it was my first job that received an international award, that earned a special place in my memories.
Following that, the work of the X-Air Racers Puntarenas 2013, is another of my favorites. In this case, it was a project that I proposed and I led as special media, from the previous report turned out to be great. I enjoyed quite to see so near the acrobatics of pilots to understand how they were made with such a precision. This work had interactive graphics, motion graphics, maps, aerial video and others. In my role, we rarely have the opportunity to enjoy these shows if you are working, but this time all the work was delivered with a good time and allowed me to enjoy the event as another observer on the beach. Space issues have always fascinated me, this affinity has provided me an opportunity to share stories with my fellows of the Science and Technology section. One of those, was our work of the NASA´s lunar probes named GRAIL, published full page with the confidence of the editor.
The topic wrapped me, and from that moment on, I have the chance to create and publish eventually info-graphic´s with the support of the small technological Village at La Nación, a warm relationship grew up over the years with them.
In retrospect, what do you know now that you wish you knew before you pursued your graphic design education?
I believe in process. Our mistakes and times of success give us important lessons. The curiosity in fields far away from design in my education has been improved my global vision. Still I have a lot to learn, a lot of people to listen, many professional experiences to live.
Based on what you hear in the industry, what do you think are the most respected and prestigious schools, departments or programs? Does graduating from a prestigious school make a difference in landing a good job?
In information design, the Polytechnic of Milan (Italy) has an extraordinary school and the studio project (Density Design), the quality of his works in data visualization and clear design it’s awfully good, maybe some of the best in the world in his area. In the other hand, in classic info-graphics, the Navarra University (Spain) has delivered to design world many great talents, they have the SND-E headquarters, this has given to them the opportunity to receive yearly the best works in info-graphics and many transit of visual journalist to share ideas and techniques. Of course there are many other good places and schools as the University of Miami, or the Visual Art School of NYC, or Stanford just to mention some others good places.
One may suppose that if you come from one of this centers, you have an advantage over the rest of professionals, but as in all works, the mileage and the talent you are born with also matters. Coming from a great institution to be a great professional is not a rule, not always at least.
How can prospective graphic design students assess their skill and aptitude?
Every period at the university, I’ve seen my students to take control of his particular skills and make it grow, that if they are really interested in information design.The trick is let them fall in love with a way of design or a particular way of representation of information. In my experience, some of them have a special sense of synthesis. That will be make them capable for data visualization. Many others have an artist soul and will be closer to classic info-graphics works.
Also there are all the others, with no connection at all, maybe they are good designers for advertising or product or something else, but if they don’t feel the arts or synthesis sense in information design, They’ll never gonna click on the field.I like to push the students to be honest with themselves. I´ve appreciated that when other people do it for me. It makes me not to waste time and discover new ways to get what I want, even in a different discipline.
What can students applying to graphic design schools do to increase their chances of being accepted?
Try to see design as an integral discipline, designing i’s not passion, it isn’t about to make the things look pretty nice. Design is about functionality, beyond arts, includes communication, investigation, psychology… if you have this clear before sending an application form, maybe you will know whether you fit in that field or some where else. Be honest with yourself.
Basic knowledge about morphology, ergonomy, and visual perception maybe help also, but the most effective attitudes are curiosity for everything and passion for what you do.
What other advice can you give to prospective students thinking about an education and career in graphic design?
Out there, tools are more efficient every time. Many of these tools can make even better your work than you can do in your best day. But no machine or tool can think as we can do. To make the difference we have to make a product tailored, personalized, thinking and analyzing to be just what the customer needs but does not know it should have yet.
What exactly do you do? What are your key responsibilities?
Well, in GN Medios I’m in charge of special projects for digital media. I make the interface design for interactive, info-graphics or special sites, but some times even the whole product from conception to the end in investigation, design, development, and optimization. The topics are fluent and diverse, if I saw potential in data visualization or info-graphics in these topics I can take it. Sometimes I make a team work if it’s a large and ambitious project. Many times the topic is solvent in a cap of hours whit simply graphics. In summary, my primary responsibility is developing topics that have potential for interactive graphics or print specials, this for the five newspapers and the independent magazines that make up the corporation.
I started working here in the print section of info-graphics, as a designer I have to guide other team members to deliver a better service in our department. The GN info-graphics department is very versatile group, we are all designers but we have special focus in different areas as illustration, 3D, motion, dataviz, developing… that makes possible work in print graphics or interaction design for web and devices with the same group. I’m just a piece with a lot of support of my co-workers.
And I have other phases as lecturer of information design at the Science and Arts University of Costa Rica. There, my role is to introduce design students to the world of info-graphics and guide them in the process of converting inputs of products for digital printed formula regularly through motion-graphics.
What are the tools of the trade that you use the most?
Paper and pen definitely. There is where all begins. No matter if I was designing an interactive or a print visualization, everything must start in paper. That way I can easily find better ways to create the visualizations in a short time. Before taking a seat and start designing at a computer, the work target, the idea itself must be clear and well formed.
After that, I use many kinds of software and code languages for interaction, but that you can fix it at any corner of the web, learn how to use any program, or some kind of code, doesn’t matter. The really important thing is the content in your head; the magic to show graphically information is always inside your mind, not in a hard disk.
What are the most challenging aspects of your job?
Understanding the data, finding the real pattern and put down my own preferences. Many times the final result in some work are the designer preferences, this preferences hinder the true focus of the topic. I must admit that it’s a very difficult challenge.
Other hard challenge is the software or code limitations. Sometimes I have an idea and I can´t do that because I don’t have the required knowledge or the technology available can´t do that. It is a really big challenge to solve it without departing from the original idea, but almost all the time, in teamwork, we can solve it.
Beyond that, the other kind of challenge is the nice challenge. It is when someone comes with data and give it to me to explore, to make a visualization, to create, or better yet, when I make my own research, find a great topic and start a new project. That kind of challenge reminds me why I decided be a designer, why I choose to be a visual thinker.
What are the hottest specialties within the graphic design field over the next decade?
Motiongraphics, interaction and UI.
For example, the devices have bigger screens and so they improve resolution. More and more often we see how the screens invade the most common articles, every of these things and screens needs an interface. Everything needs design, that’s the relevance of the User Interface in the graphic field. We have to show, don´t tell.