Today we are happy and privileged to share with you the knowledge and experience of an Interactive Designer, hailing from Austin, Texas in the United States of America. Marcelo Milteer is a man with a great background and grounding in the design world we all know and love today, a man with some great points and a real great focus on not only the present world but what it will be like in the future. We must thank him for his time and we hope you all enjoyed his great interview.
Hi Marcelo, It’s a great pleasure to interview you for our Design Juices readers. Can you first introduce yourself to our readers and explain a little about yourself.
Sure, I am a 26 year old Interactive Designer who works at a design firm on Austin, Texas’ infamous 6th street. I graduated five years ago with a degree in Advertising Design & print. Over the course of post-grad design jobs, print design began to bore me a lot. You know, at the beginning design was something to solve problems with beauty, but now it seems like it’s just to make people appear richer or more cultivated. Then, the rise of social media marketing grew and I knew that the digital route was the way for my career. So I started researching into something more interesting. I abandoned print design and started working full time on websites, and embracing marketing tools such as Facebook & Twitter. I believe that in a few years, interactive design will swallow up print design. Bold statement, I know.
Austin, Tx is also a great place to live because there are design agencies on every block it seems. When not hard at work in the studio it is also a great place to unwind, with local bars, lakes, concerts, and other awesome festivities.
“I believe that in a few years, interactive design will swallow up print design. Bold statement, I know.” -Marcelo Milteer
You say in Texas there is design agencies on every block it seems. How are you involved in your local creative community? Is it a great community of designers and creatives who work with one another?
Only visual designers thrive in the downtown area as the majority of firm are companies that hire UX and flash developers. In addition, the majority are also contract workers so I view designers here as bee’s who move from flower to flower. Gone are the days where you work at a place for 10+ years. You have to have a strong stomach here because you will probably be shifted around a lot from agency to agency. The upside to this is there are lots of prestigious firms in Austin, and you can grow your network exponentially in only a few years.
Being from Austin, Tx Do you have any experience of the SXSW festival? It’s something I’ve heard about briefly here in the UK. Can you tell you any experiences you’ve had there.
To give you an idea of how the festival is grown since the beginning, I’ll give you a figure. In its first year, South by Southwest attracted 172 bands and 700 registrants. This year the number of bands hovered around 2,000 and registration exceeded 13,000. It has gotten to the point where the music festival has literally outgrown the city. It took me 45 minutes to get out of my parking garage and drive one block down the street. It is insanity. My agency actually allowed us to take off the afternoon and walk around the city and visit numerous venues. It is a great hub for art & music and aside from the traffic, it really is a good experience.
“In its first year, South by Southwest attracted 172 bands and 700 registrants. This year the number of bands hovered around 2,000 and registration exceeded 13,000.” – Marcelo Milteer talks about SXSW
What accounts do you use in the social media world? Where could our readers find your work across the web?
You know, I used to have a long cookie crumb trail on the interweb. I googled myself one day and I actually grew concerned by how easy it was to see every site I had an account for. Since, I have toned it down a bit and am now only seen on a select few. Additionally, working for agencies has its drawbacks as the work you do is for Fortune 500 clients. These particular clients are very protective of their work, even in conceptual form. Most of the work I do, I have to sign confidential agreements not to share so the bulk of my work is unavailable to the public. The best place I could point you too is my main portfolio: http://marcellomilteer.com
Also you can follow me on twitter: http://twitter.com/japancinema
Do you find it a hindrance, having to sign disclosure agreements with your bigger clients? Does this hinder your creativity at all? Or is it simply something you have to deal with as a designer?
Well, I can’t speak to openly about it because it really is a dirt little secret. You see technically the work belongs to the employer and it’s there intellectual property because after all they were paying you to develop the ideas. It is basically a Catch-22, so I encourage designers to work on projects other then the ones given to you by your day job. Because, to be perfectly honest, it does become a hindrance, but it is the nature of the beast. However, it doesn’t hurt to try to work your way around this. My personal opinion would be to write a pleasant but firm letter to all involved as to the hows and whys of your use and tell them respectfully that they will not be removed. You never know what may happen, but I do recommend every designer be prepared to get slapped with a non-disclosure agreement.
Which members of your social media circle would you recommend our readers to follow and why?
The best thing about my career is definitely my Asian film blog Japan Cinema. Not only is it a fun creative hobby but it has presented me the opportunity to meet many creative entrepreneurs. I met a young man who had an idea similar to mine, and with passion and determination he has grown his idea into a brand. You can check him out at http://loyalkng.com. I love meeting creative go-getters and I think without the tools of social media we would be deprived of ‘off-chance’ encounters. I would also recommend my lovely editor who I adore to pieces, Olivia (redletterprints.com) who has her own film site and an all around great creative figure. Check them both out!
How did your design education take its path to the role you are in today? Did you have a route through school education or are you self taught in some areas?
Definitely a mixture of both. I have a degree in advertising design which has given me the opportunity to look more attractive on a resume, but as far as my skill-set and talent, it has evolved through the form of self-taught research and practice. I am not a huge advocate of college, but I have seen some incredibly talented creative who get passed over for work who don’t have the credentials. Most get frustrated and travel down the freelancer road, which, if you don’t have the stomach for, can be taxing.
For me, every time I look back on the work I did the year beforehand, I cringe. Not that it is terrible, but that I always progress and improve every year. My ‘classes’ are the real life work in the agencies day after day. Being in a creative meeting with art directors and senior designers in an office will always be more beneficial then in a classroom with a art professor and a group of students. I grow & learn as a designer everyday.
After your route through design in a more recognized college route and then to be self taught in many areas. What route would you advise to the younger designers coming through today?
I’m a firm believer that straight A’s never made anyone rich. I say get in and out of college as quickly and effectively as you can, because your first job out of college will most likely just be a stepping stone to something greater. In my experience, a great portfolio trumps a Bachelors or Masters degree. To get more specific, I only spent 2 years in college and got out with an Associates degree and I have always been the youngest person in each place I work. I see it as a head start to get out there (with at least some college under your belt) and start gaining real world experience because that is what will help you more efficiently.
Where did your design inspiration begin? Were you first inspired by a single designer or movement growing up? Has this changed today?
What I do today, is purely the outcome of practice and patience I think. As when I look back to my days at college, university and now my career, I’ve always wanted to be better than I was. Believe it or not, I very rarely look at design when I’m looking for design inspiration. Austin is a great place to people watch, and observe city life so I find inspiration in that. Creativity is something you can’t learn at school; however, you can help yourself to find inspiration in order to create something fabulous. What helps me a lot when I’m not feeling very inspired (Because it’s impossible for a designer to be inspired every single minute) is keeping things that I love around me. For example, I really appreciate my design space because I hang up pictures of art prints I have bought over the years. I like to surround myself with art because I can draw from its energy.
You have worked in the past for big companies such as Frog Design, Possible Worldwide, and Dell. How did these experiences change the way you work? and What were the lessons you learnt working with these companies?
Firstly I’m attracted by its charm. These big agencies pretty much guarantee that you’ll grow as a designer. I am surrounded by some really great people, and there isn’t a dull knife in the drawer. The majority of my days don’t even consist of focusing on art. To be honest, we spend 80% of the day conceptualizing and brainstorming on how to streamline a process, build functionality, and improve aesthetics. In turn, when I design, instead of just following rules of thumb I can implement years and years of advice and ideas from the top creative people in the state of Texas. I have had the pleasure of working with such clients as Dell, Samsung, Verizon, Disney, Ford, P&G, & more. To go back to designing my little film blog, knowing that I have the invaluable advice and teachings of years of agency work, really gave me an advantage. Most people loathe their day jobs, I am fortunate enough to be able to say that my experiences at work introduced me to strong communication values in design.
Is the conceptualizing and brainstorming part at the beginning of a project your favorite section in any new brief for you?
It can be an arduous process. Discussing the idea with the various local people who would be involved in, be affected by, or responsible to approve the project can be frustrating but after the dust settles it is really gratifying to know that not only were your designs implements but also your ideas and verbal contributions. It may sound easy, but conceptualizing as a team takes as much practice as it does to become skilled as a designer. In my book it goes hand-in-hand.
In past interviews people have often agreed with your point that print design will soon be a thing of the past. For what reasons do you believe in this? and what would suggest to the people still involved in the print design industry?
There will always be a niche for print design but I feel if you want to excel then digital is the route to take. The number of User Interface designers and mobile app designers has grown tremendously over the years. Print media is still trying to find a solution to their revenue problems caused by migration to digital media, that is a stone-cold fact. In fact, I think it will be so bad for print in the future that authors who hold book signings will be a thing of the past because everyone will be reading on Kindle devices (the authors will start signing Kindles, haha). Just like iTunes will put record stores out of business, everything else will follow the chain reaction. It has taken a bit longer for traditional publishers to get on board, but I believe it will happen.
We see that you work with the online site Japan Cinema, Tell us more about this site and how you are involved.
Japan Cinema (http://japancinema.net) started officially in 2009, when I was working in an art firm for a very abrasive boss in a city where everything is very practical and simple. It started as a vehicle to ensure my design chops always stayed creative. In the country where I grew up there’s a harder pressure for design so the creativity becomes something that you can express just in your creative job, if you have one. Unfortunately, I was trapped in a job I hated, and I wanted to start a blog that I could implement my love of design into. I thought that starting a movie blog would be fun and since I love Asian films, I thought it would be even more unique to create a site where I could combine Asian film reviews with Asian culture.
I am involved with about 95% of the site, from design, to hiring interns, to conducting interviews with actors, artists, and photographers. The reason why I think this site stands with a high reputation among the movie blog world is because it is an apparent labor of love. I can speak confidently when I say there aren’t too many people aside from myself, that pour as many man hours into an amateur movie blog, as I do. Since it started, we have collaborated with companies such as FUNimation, Well Go USA, and Third Window Films. I have had the opportunity to be featured in numerous press releases, magazine articles, and web interviews (such as this). I couldn’t be more excited of how the site has evolved and I hope people enjoy the sense of culture and art that we present them with.
What sites across the web do you have in your RSS feed to inspire and educate yourself both for your work and to build on your knowledge for Japan Cinema.
I could name off some sources of inspiration but my design firm sent out a tweet to the whole office the other day that basically sums up my answer. It is a collection of industrial design sites and it is more then helpful for those that need a design boost: 50 Best blogs for Industrial Design Students
We must offer a great thanks to Marcelo Milteer for taking his time out in putting this very insightful interview together today. To follow @Japancinema or check out his portfolio of work http://marcellomilteer.com