On September 8, 9, 10 and 11 at 3PM, Carlos Segura, Jason Fried and Nathan Kontny will chat about our experiences and share some general thoughts in a live show on YouTube for 4-days. If you were unable join us, the four chats are posted below.
The Drum /
“Have you ever met one of your heroes and they turned out to be a dick?”
My answer to Carlos Segura’s question was “Not yet. Although I had a Creative Director once who could be a real arsehole. This was the incredibly comfortable nature of the conversation I had with one of the modern era’s design legends, and a personal hero of mine.
I’m a bit of a hero freak. I have loads of them. From every area of interest I have.
“Carlos, I think there are parallels between you and one of my other great heroes.” I confided in him. “OK.” He smiled nervously, “Let’s hear this.”
“I think you’re the Bruce Lee of the design world.”
Thankfully he laughed and took it as a compliment, so I continued.
“Bruce Lee had a philosophy of no style as style, no form as form, no way as way. I think your work conforms to that philosophy in design. It doesn’t mean you aren’t a master, the opposite in fact. Because you understand the complete nature of design theory, you apply a blended approach that is appropriate for, and only for, the brief in hand.”
“I will gladly accept that comparison.” He said with grace.
Now I have no idea if Carlos could whup you in a street fight, but then I suspect Bruce had difficulty kerning a line of type. His outward appearance certainly gives you a sense of peace and puts you at ease.
He’s a gorgeous man. Immaculately groomed and the epitome of the word handsome. Like all charismatic men, his attraction lies in his maturity, confidence and wisdom. Fit, tanned, expressive with soft, flowing waves of vibrant white hair extending from his hairline round and down into his beard.
He is measured and considered and secure. Having written that last line, I just googled the translation of Segura. And my suspicion was confirmed; it’s ‘Secure’ in English. How utterly appropriate.
It also confirms my suspicion that I have a bit of a man crush for him. I spent an hour in Carlos’ company. I’d arranged a client meeting in Chicago and, as this was his hometown, I decided I had to request an audience. We were already friends on FaceBook, so I showed him the Milton Glaser piece I wrote the year before last and he graciously agreed to let me pop in for a cup of tea.
It was one of the best cups of tea I’ve ever had.
That’s not a metaphor for the meeting. The managing Director (and Carlos’ partner), Sun Segura, literally made me the best cup of tea I’ve ever had. It had a very unique herbal sweetness to it, and had exactly the right balance of temperature, color, scent and taste. It seemed so perfectly considered that it was masterful in its arrangement.
That last bit was actually a metaphor for Carlos’ office, which is also his home. A space of such sublime beauty and perfection that it seemed more like a design museum than an office. Sun explained that it had been a bank vault in a previous life, and that seemed, like so many other aspects of my experience, so very appropriate. The whole space is filled with design treasures, curated perfectly.
Every thing was in the right place, even framed prints sitting on the floor, with other smaller ones sitting in front, were precisely and deliberately positioned. There was wall space for them, but they didn’t belong there. The negative space was balanced correctly. Piles of books and magazines were arranged to form sculpted paper obelisks. Model cars were lined up so that the colors formed a hyperbolic gradient of tone. Even postal tubes for print delivery, were stacked in a way that made them seem like the organ pipes of a baroque cathedral.
I was beyond myself with jealousy that it wasn’t my own office slash home slash museum slash shrine. As I entered, Carlos asked me to sign a square white wall with a Sharpie. The wall already contained the signatures of over a hundred visitors. The pressure to find a space and sign my name at the right size so as to keep the aesthetic balance was almost too much to bear. I think I pulled it off.
There’s something really smart about the nature of his office, and I was aware of a similar thing when I visited Milton. Their environments are curated to their own particular taste, and they are very much at odds with the offices usually associated with design firms. They are personal spaces that you feel privileged to be invited into.
If I put myself into the shoes of a client, both spaces would have told me ‘the owner has a better understanding of design than you do’. Both spaces qualified the skill and mastery of the person you were in the presence of.
Once I had quizzed him obsessively about the room — we were at the top of the house in his office — the conversation flowed into the world of design.
My intention was to garner some unique universal insights, in the way that Milton Glaser had shared previously. But unlike Milton, Carlos is a more approachable and conversational character, and generationally more comfortable for me to relax with. Only after our meeting did I realize the real lesson he was sharing with me.
Keep reading, I’ll get to it.
But in the depth of conversation we realised we shared a love, and understanding of great design. And like all enthusiasts, we became very passionate about the subject once we got into it.
I can barely remember the structure of the exchange, just the various aspects of it. In such an enjoyable conversation exchange, topics naturally flow into one another. Yet beyond the event, it seems hard to recollect the stream of the narrative. I made notes immediately after, but like a boxing match, you can pinpoint key punches, but the nature of the match has to be experienced to be really understood. So, here are the key highlights of the bout.
Carlos had watched a documentary the previous evening on the development of the Macy’s logo. He’d never really considered it before, but was surprised to learn that on the surface, what seems like a simple star shape has hidden depth (it is derived from the tattoos worn by sailors on whaling ships in the eighteenth century — the first occupation of the founder).
The show had confirmed a long held Segura belief that design should have meaning, even if that meaning sat beneath the surface and wasn’t immediately obvious to the viewer or user. And that great design could and should contain some of the character of its originator.
TV led us naturally to films, and a mutual agreement that Grand Hotel Budapest is the most beautifully art directed film of its generation. And no one can say ‘Fuck’ like Ralph Fiennes.
But for Carlos (and myself, and I suspect most designers and art directors) watching films is always difficult, as your own scrutiny for detail gets in the way your ability to focus on the film and its narrative. The often criminal typography of title designers brings out the critic in you, and like an OCD sufferer, you can’t focus on anything but the imperfection.
We naturally discussed cars, it’s an obsession of his and his typographical car blog, cartype.com is testament to that. We share a love of Audi, both for the brand and the vehicles. But Carlos’ knowledge is that of an obsessive. Unlike most of the petrol heads I know, he sees the poetry in the design of a car. The curved nuance of a wing mirror fixing will fascinate him far more than the interior workings. In fact, he’s a shoe in for the Top Gear presenter role. When he articulates his passion it is compulsive viewing.
Discussing revolutionary design in cars brought the topic of Elon Musk, and Tesla into the mix. Carlos had been looking at the Apple watch recently and his intuition was telling him that this was maybe the beginning of the downturn in apples dominance. Musk’s approach to creativity is a natural successor to Jobs and Apple. Especially the ability to not just improve the world, but to deliver an unexpected answer to a problem. That’s progress.
I’m writing a very Carlos-centric piece, but there was more to the meeting. He’s a curious man is Carlos. He was aware that I had come to meet and interview him, yet his interest in me and my world made it a very even exchange.
That’s another thing that is true of great designers. They are always learning, always observing and always asking questions.
I could have stayed for days and I’m sure the energy would never have dropped from the exchange. Passion and character compounds itself. It’s an energy, and another of the traits of great creative people. They are the fuel that powers the machine of progress.
From the minute I walked through his door, Carlos treated me as an equal and as a guest. Actually, what made the whole experience so wonderful was that he treated me as a friend. And if I’ve brought him up in conversation since, that’s how I refer to him. My friend Carlos.
But what did I learn from my friend Carlos?
Well, for starters I wanted to spend more time with him, I knew there was a lot more value to be had in being around his passion and wisdom.
I learned that although a brief can be solved, there can be greater meaning beyond that function.
That you should craft and obsess about perfection and embrace that love for your work.
That you are free to express your passion unapologetically, with honesty and verve.
I learned you need to look for the unexpected solution, and find that in your own character; you can and should bring some of yourself to your work.
That you should enjoy the learning, the exploration and the adventure of your passion.
Well, for starters I wanted to spend more time with him, I knew there was a lot more value to be had in being around his passion and wisdom.
I learned meaning and depth can sit beneath the surface.
To express your passion unapologetically.
To find unexpected solutions, and find them in your own character.
And to enjoy the learning, the exploration and the adventure of your passion.
As I said, I love my heroes, they have influenced who I am and the work I’ve done. But those influences have produced something greater than the sum of its parts.
The reason I can pitch, and win, and then deliver successfully is because I trust myself to do so. I have none of the fears or insecurities I had as a young art director.
The lesson Carlos taught me is that real success as a designer is not about ego, but about getting to the truth of yourself. Accepting yourself, trusting yourself, believing in yourself.
It’s about being secure.
Written by Don Smith and first published in The Drum magazine on August 5th, 2015.
A veces es una conferencia. Otras una charla informal. O un debate intenso. O una oportunidad única de seguir muy de cerca quien está haciendo qué. O una manera de descubrir nuevas tendencias.
Sea lo que sea, un Chill Laus siempre es un encuentro alrededor de la cultura del diseño. Útil, ameno, enriquecedor. Tan diverso como el espacio que puede haber entre el diseño editorial y los motion graphics, entre el packaging y el webdesign, entre la creación de nombres y el diseño industrial, entre el grafista y el cliente o entre el director de arte y el copy. En definitiva, la ocasión perfecta para hablar de lo que nos une.
Los Chill Laus son una iniciativa conjunta de ADG-FAD, ADCV (Asociación de Diseñadores de la Comunidad Valenciana), Álvaro Sobrino (editor de la revista Visual) y Raquel Pelta y el “Obs” (Observatorio del Diseño y la Arquitectura de la Región de Murcia). Se convocan la última semana de cada mes en Barcelona y Madrid. En el futuro la experiencia se trasladará a otras ciudades.
We at Segura are extremely honored to be named one of the "Design 50: Who Shapes Chicago 2014" for a second year by NewCity.
NewCity was founded by Brian Hieggelke and has been Chicago's cultural bible for more than 27 years. Newcity Design is their web site dedicated to news, reviews and features about Chicago’s fashion, home, architecture, graphic and product design world and in the March 2oth Issue names us as one of the Design 50 who have helped shape Chicago, along with...
Helmut Jahn - Architect - Jahn
Sara Frisk - Graphic designer - Ideo
Carol Ross Barney - Urban designer
Nick Cave - Fashion designer
Rick Valicenti - Graphic designer - Thirst
John Tolva - Systems designer - Adrian Smith+Gordon Gill Architecture
Jeanne Gang - Architect - Studio Gang
Scott Wilson - Product designer - Minimal
Alisa Wolfson - Graphic designer - Leo Burnett
Jimenez Lai - Architect
Brad Lynch - Architect - Brininstool + Lynch
Dave Vondle & Jerry O’Leary - Product designers - Central Standard Timing
Ross Wimer - Architect - Aecom
Cody Hudson - Graphic designer - Struggle
Stanley Tigerman - Architect
Maria Pinto - Fashion designer - M2057
John Ronan - Architect
Nick Butcher & Nadine Nakanishi - Graphic designers - Sonnenzimmer
Gary Lee - Interior designer - Gary Lee Partners and Atelier Gary Lee
Carlos Segura - Designer - Segura Inc, T26, Cartype, Biketype, Mototype, HatchHeaven, SOS
Carlos Martinez - Interior architect - Gensler
Jonathan Nesci - Furniture designer - Hale
Jeremiah Chiu & Renata Graw - Graphic designers - Plural
Kara Mann - Interior designer - Moore & Giles
Shane Gabier & Chris Peters - Fashion designers - Creatures of the Wind
Pat Natke - Architect - UrbanWorks
Matt Wizinsky - Graphic designer
Michael Catano - Product designer - Humble Frameworks
Chris Eichenseer - Graphic Designer - Someoddpilot
Borris Powell - Fashion designer - BjP
Ernie Wong - Urban designer - Site Design Group
Jason Fried - Information designer - Basecamp
John Vinci - Architect - Vinci-Hamp Architects
Dawn Hancock - Graphic designer - Firebelly
Holly Hunt - Furniture designer - Holly Hunt Enterprises
Jason Pickleman - Graphic designer
Felicia Ferrone - Product designer - fferrone
Tom Burtonwood - Product designer
Zach Borders - Urban designer - Civic ArtWorks
Brenda Bergen - Graphic designer - Wink Design
Matthew Hoffman - Graphic designer - “You Are Beautiful”
Martin Felsen - Architect - UrbanLab
Logan LaHive - Interface designer - Belly
John-Paul Wolforth - Graphic designer - Flatmade
Iker Gil - Architect - Mas Studio
Andy Eltzroth, Kelly Komp, Kevin Krueger & Dave Mason - Graphic designers - Multiple
Dirk Denison - Architect
Maria Boustead - Product designer - Po Campo
Katherine Darnstadt - Architect - Latent Design
D. Graham Kostic - Experience designer - Glossed and Found
TDC 1000 /
Back in 2001, T26 was honored by the Tokyo Type Directors Club with a Bronze Prize for the T26 Newspaper series of promotional materials for the foundry, some of which included the D-Set, Alias, Identikal and Anytime, among others. Its now featured in the new Tokyo Type Directors Club's TDC 1000 book which showcases projects that received a Tokyo TDC Annual Awards and celebrates the 25th anniversary of the organization.
We've been extremely fortunate to have won several awards, but the The Tokyo Type Directors Club has always been one of our favorites and feel quite humbled to have received a few and be in this book.
The Tokyo Type Directors Club (Tokyo TDC) marked its 25th anniversary in December 2012. Commemorating the anniversary, they have published TDC 1000, a 1,024 page book encompassing artwork that received a Tokyo TDC Annual Awards.
This very special paperback book will be available initially at 30 book stores in Tokyo, without a wholesale bookseller.
A Digital book will also be sold through BCCKS, kobo, Reader Store, Amazon, BookLive!, BookPlace, Kinokuniya BookWebPlus, Seven Net Shopping, Yahoo! Japan Book Store, Neowing, Bitway, ConTenDo, LISMO Book Store, dmarket Book Store, SoftBank Book Store, and Galapagos Store.
Our logos for Corbis and PocketCard are part of "Logobook" by Ludovic Houplain from Taschen which features approximately 7000 logo designs organised alphabetically.
The monumental archive Houplain amassed is the foundation of this ultimate logo reference guide, featuring approximately 7,000 specimens organized alphabetically, with information about the designers, year of creation, country, brand, and company. Moreover, the book includes an extensive critical essay on brand culture by French philosopher Gilles Lipovetsky, and an introduction by Ludovic Houplain explaining the creation process of the film Logorama, from its inception to its finalization.
It measures 6.6 x 9.4 inches, has 776 pages and retails for $59.99.
Segura Gets Fueled. Founder Brenda Bergen, the creative force behind Wink Design Atelier, asks Carlos Segura (along with Bob Faust, G. Love, The Franks, Genevieve Theirs, Katrina Markoff, Bree Housley, Justin Behlke, Ben Niles, Monica Rexman, Sara Press, Scott Smith, Matthias Merges, Thea Goodman, Jim Cohen, Joe Lambke and Jessica Murnane... to name a few) how he gets fueled.
The full unedited interview.
What is some of your favorite creative work?
1) The creation of T26.
2) The Corbis project (which got us the RedDot award and best of show at the RedDot two years in a row - the only US design firm to ever do that)
Whose creative process do you want to know about?
There are many, but.. Thom Yorke of Radiohead and Walter de’ Silva, Audi Head Designer.
What is the most creative thing you have made or are most proud of.
When I was growing up, I had every opportunity to mess it up. Where I came from, where I grew up, who I was hanging around with, and the things that I did, but somehow the real miracle of what I've done is the improvement of my life.
When you create something, do you follow a linear path? Non linear? Is it fluid and organic or planned out? Chaotic or organized?
My process is as unpredictable as the creative it generates. That said, I always shoot for the obvious strategical needs of an assignment, but I believe there a millions ways to get to a solution, so the final achievement has the potential to vary quite a bit from your first to last thought.
The critical thing or me is to try to stay away from what I call the "NO" room. Keep an open mind. Really keep an open mind. Don't worry about budgets, production limitations, or even if the client will like it or not at the beginning. This can all be toned back if necessary. It is way harder to push things froward then to hold them back.
Going as far as you can is what real creativity is for me. Most of the time, once a client sees what is offered, and they have a way to do it... they will.
They can not say "yes" to something you don't show them.
Do you remember how you made things when you were young? Has your method of creating changed or evolved over time?
How I make things has obviously changed, but the results and what it represents has not. In other words, concept is king. It is great to have something that looks good, but it is greater to have something that is smart.
I never assume or even conclude that the target is "not as smart" or "won't get it" (as I often hear). It is just not in my method.
Where or when do you feel most creative?
This feeling is quite random as well, but I am a very curious person, so I am always thinking of something. Equally important is that I am always looking for something. And I mean really looking. Up, down, sideways, left and right. I am often out with friends and while walking may recognize something and then point it out. Almost without fail they ask how I even saw it.
What environment did you grow up in that helped foster your creativity?
I do believe that the environment I grew up in helped me foster my creativity in the sense that it forced me to always be aware of my surroundings. The time that I grew up in Miami was a little bit confrontational, so I always had to look over my shoulder.
How do you make something out of nothing ? Where does the initial seed come from?
I will try to answer this question, but the truth of it is that there really is no answer. No one really knows how the human mind functions in the sense that it creates something out of nothing.
Particularly with me, I honestly do not have any idea. I have no formal education, I had no idea there was a difference between advertising and design, and I just simply went with my gut instead of following standard rules.
For me I think it boils down to the fact that I was not afraid to fail because I didn't know the difference between the right thing to do and the wrong thing to do.
The one thing that I was always aware of however is the importance of doing something that felt proper. I was very conscious of building a reputation. And while I often get asked how someone not as well-known can get away with standing their ground, I try to remind them that this is is how I have always been, not something that has come from being well-known. Your reputation comes from the investment you make in yourself, not from "fame".
We at Segura are extremely honored to be named one of the "Design 50: Who Shapes Chicago" by NewCity.
NewCity was founded by Brian Hieggelke and has been Chicago's cultural bible for more than 27 years. Newcity Design is their web site dedicated to news, reviews and features about Chicago’s fashion, home, architecture, graphic and product design world and in the March 22nd Issue names us as one of the Design 50 who have helped shape Chicago, along with...
Jeanne Gang - Founder and Principal of Studio Gang Architects
Jon Cotay, Eric Hsueh and Erikka Wang - Owners of Akira
Gordon and Carole Segal - Founders of Crate & Barrel
Nate Berkus - Principal of Nate Berkus Associates
John H. Brennen III - Executive Vice President of the Design Center Division at the Merchandise Mart
Dana Arnett - CEO at VSA Partners
Jake Nickell - CEO at Threadless
Desiree Rogers - Chief Executive Officer at Johnson Publishing Company
Helmut Jahn - CEO at Jahn
Ikram Goldman - Owner of Ikram
Tavi Gevinson - Blogger at Style Rookie
Shane Gabier and Chris Peters - Designers at Creatures of the Wind
Corri McFadden - Founder of eDrop-Off and star of “House of Consignment”
Mark Lyman - Founding Director of The Sculptural Objects Functional Art and Design fair (SOFA)
Jason Fried - Co-founder and CEO of 37signals (also proud to be mentioned here)
Cody Hudson - Founder of Struggle Inc.
Holly Hunt - President and CEO of Holly Hunt
Adrian Smith - Founding Partner of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture
Brian Spaly - CEO of Trunk Club Men’s Outfitters
Susie Daly - Co-founder and Director of Renegade Craft Fair
Don Rosenwinkel - President and CEO of Big Monster Toys
Scott Wilson - Founder and principal designer at MINIMAL
John Ronan - Lead Designer and Founding Principal at John Ronan Architects
Kara Mann - Principal at Kara Mann Design
Stanley Tigerman - Principal at Tigerman McCurry
Jim Coudal - Founder of Coudal Partners
Wiel Arets - Dean at IIT College of Architecture
Nick Cave - Chair of Fashion Design at School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Rick Valicenti - Founder and Design Director of Thirst
Richard Wright - Director at Wright
Zoë Ryan - Curator of Architecture and Design at the Art Institute of Chicago
Jane Stewart - President at Factor Women Model Management
April Francis - Founder of Dose Market and The Haute Closet
Ashley Zisook - Owner of Sofia
Jill Shimabukuro - Design & Production Director at The University of Chicago Press
Amy Olson - Interim Director at Chicago Fashion Incubator
Monica Pedersen - Interior Designer and HGTV host
Andrea Schwartz - VP of Media Relations and Cause Marketing at Macy’s North & Midwest Regions
Jane Rodak - Owner of Salvage One
Dirk Denison - Founder of Dirk Denison Architects
Ann Hickey - Fashion Community Liaison of the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE)
Lana Bramlette - Founder and Designer of Lana Jewelry
Morlen Sinoway - Principal of Morlen Sinoway Atelier
Dawn Hancock - Founder and Managing Director at Firebelly
Nena Ivon - Co-Founder of TalksChic
Robin Richman - Owner of Robin Richman
Jason Pickleman - Owner of JNL Graphic Design
James Goggin - Chief Designer at the Museum of Contemporary Art
Kirby and Whitney Kerr - Owners of Rotofugi
The special 320 page issue #21 of Slanted, titled "Cuban Poster Art – The New Generation", will be released in the Spring 2013, attracting attention to an international level and also showcasing typography, photography, graphic design and illustration. Segura in honored to be a part of the featured artists.
Alejandro González, Arien Chang Castán, Alejandro Pérez álvarez, Carlos Segura, Claudio Sotolongo, Daniel Cruz, Daniel, Diaz Milán, Darwin Fornés, Edel Rodríguez, Edel Rodríguez Molano, Eduardo Sarmiento, Eric Silva, Fabián Muñoz Díaz, Giselle Monzón Calero, Idania de lrio, Ingo Graf, Jose Parla, Jonathan M. Hansen, Juan Carlos Pagan, Laura Llópiz, Lisbet Córdoba, Lylymarlen de Leganza, Michele Miyares Hollands, Michel Pou, Nelson Ponce Sánchez, Noa, Oniel Díaz Castellanos, Pablo A., Medina, Pepe Menéndez, Raúl Valdés González (Raupa), Roberto Ramos Mori and Yoandra Mancebo.
Slanted is an independent magazine by Lars Harmsen, Flo Gaertner and Ulrich Weiss. They are design junkies who met 1996 and run a small design studio in Karlsruhe, south Germany. In 2005, they originally published the Slanted blog, now one of the most important in Germany. The magazine soon followed and became a source of inspiration and reference in the fields of creation, typography, graphics, illustration and photography.
For 50 years, this legendary group has given us great moments an unforgettable live concerts, all with the same logo.
Bitan & Alvaro Sotomayor have invited artists from all over the world to create a logo as a celebration of The Rolling Stones' contribution to Rock & Roll. Participants include Rod, Hunt, Fabien Barral, Luke Atkinson, Roberto Albares, Reve, Pablo Vinagre, Pedro Manero, André Brocatus, Shotopop, Raul Urias, Zutto, Agatha Ruiz De La Prada, Fab Ciraolo, Vasco Vicente, Nate Coonrod, Godfried Donkor, Enrique Arellano, Andrew Footit, Eve Roussou, Heidi Chrisholm, Vîctor Vazquez, Bitan, César Galicia, José Macena, Aled, Ben Vine, Velcrosuit, Steve Kim, Rik Oostenbroek, Ugo Gattoni, Lauren Fowler, Emanuel Serodio, Givan Lotz, Erwin Bindeman, Cinco, Damien Weighill, Basurama, Kiosk, Jack Aguirre, Martin Nicolausson, Marta Cerda, Mimi Leung, Alvaro Sotomayor, Bombay Duck Designs, Kristjana S. Williams, Karlssonwilker, Vasava, Bruno Nakano, José Carcavilla, Manu Mazzaro, Gianmarco Magnani, Diego Crescimbeni, Craig & Karl, Anthony Caseiro and Andy Smith.
Carlos Segura presents to Petit Comite in Barcelona on November 1st, 2012. Partners Joaquim Massana and Yolanda Martin asked us to share our ideas, creative procedures and conceptual thinking to their small an intimate group of creatives. We often work hand in hand with Petit Comte and found this to be a great opportunity to extend our hand to an extremely creative firm located in our favorite city in Europe, Barcelona.
The number one, volume one Fall issue of Nuance features an interview of Segura by Zach Kaplan, a graphic designer from Chicago.
Carlos Segura is a name synonymous with the world of Graphic Design. Through his design firm Segura, Inc. and the T26 Digital Type Foundry, Segura has cemented himself as one of the most influencial deisgners of our time. I got the opportunity to talk a bit with him about his world, his process, and what design means to him.
How did you get your start Carlos?
Well I actually got into it by accident. I was playing drums in a cover band as well as handling the promotional side. I’ve always been a creative individual so I began making flyers and designs for the band so that we could promote.
After my time with the band, I found myself in a job at an advertising firm. I had no formal training, but my boss encouraged me to trust my gut and do what I wanted when it came to creative decisions. Nine months later we had won more awards at the art director’s club than everyone else.
Wow, how did that impace the progression of your career?
I got picked up by a Chicago agency and moved out here in 1980. I worked for every ad agency except Leo Burnett. By ’91 I had this discomfort in me that was continuing to grow. I realized that I preferred design to the ad world because to me advertising is about addressing the masses and deisgn is about addressing a persona, soulful and beautiful desire within you to convey an idea to someone else.
In what direction did this take your career?
This led me to create something of my own. In ’91 I started Segura, Inc. By ’94 I had become very influenced by the art direction of Japan and the type direction of the UK. I made the choice to start T26. At the time digital typography was it its infancy and I wanted to create a venue for up and coming designers to get published.
Carlos you said earlier that you have always had a creative mind. As designers, we all have our own creative process. Can you walk me through yours?
My process? Well I think it’s a little bit of different than most people. Most people begin by drawing thumbnails during the exploratory phase. I prefer to let ideas stew in my head. I do “mental thumbnails” if you will. To me, doing physical aspect of creating a thumbnail is limiting and limits what I think I can do. In my brain there are no limits, so I can be boxed in by a physical drawing.
So where does the process evolve to from there? How do you make that transformation from the mental to the physical?
From there I start to enter the realistic phase. For example, the project I’m working on right now, I’m running wild in my mind. But I’m going to have to take into it, consider the realistic. There are buget limitations, location limitations, time table limitations, etc. So I try to massage those ideas into a realistic setting. From there it all depends on the nature of the job. You also have to take into consideration the type of client you are working for when moving into this phase. The goal is to achieve the result they want, yet still staying true to your vision and creative process.
Have you found the more well known you become, dealing with clients becomes easier because they already are familiar with your style of design?
You know, I actually disagree with that and let me tell you why. A lot of people tell me that I can get away with things that beginners can’t because I have a brand. But I’ve always been like this, even when I was unknown. I think the important aspect of my message, is to develop a personality for yourself even at the beginning. I’ve always known who I wanted to be and I’ve stood firm by that, it’s not that you’re more known, it’s that you have a reputation from when you were less known, it is what carries over.
I like that. So one question I was very interested to ask you is your opinion on print work vs. digital.
Well, I personally consider myself to be a more organic designer. I suspect it’s because I’m older, so I got into the business before computers and the internet. We were doing things by hand, the way it had been done for hundreds of years.
I think it’s also because I like the tangible quality of print work. The smell of ink on paper, the way things feel in your hand. I like the exactness and the permanency of print. Anything you do online is able to be changed the second you’re done. I’m not knocking this of course, I couldn’t love that aspect more, but I know the other much better because it’s how I learned everything.
I know what you mean, I’m working on a project now that is all traditional letter press work. Would you agree that this form gives you a better sense of typography itself?
Absolutely. You actually have to work at it. There is so much pre-production planning that goes on because there is no command Z. If you fuck it up, you’re starting from the beginning.
I have to say, and I hope you’ve experienced feeling as well; it is so rewarding to have that finished piece of letter press in your hand. It has a true beauty to it. A feeling that one can never really achieve by staring at InDesign for a solid few hours.
Going off on that, Carlos where do you see the world of design headed? You have print being pushed out the door in many aspects. For example my generation of designers learn everything in a digital sense.
Well I think as a designer, you absolutely need to have the digital aspects in your tool belt. I do think however that analog is making a comeback. As long as human beings are walking this earth, a tangible connection with something physical will always be desired. That said, I do think in general that the digital accessibility of everything has reduced societies view of quality.
Now everyone has access to create anything. While that has introduced the work to a lot great creativity that we wouldn’t have otherwise seen, it also introduces the world to a lot of shit that also wouldn’t have been seen. Music has become similar in this way. There’s a good and a bad to these things, but in my opinion it doesn’t make your brain think.
Carlos what would you say is your favorite aspect of design? What do you really love about it? What has kept you going with it for this long? What does the word design mean to you?
Well I don’t think design is about something just visual. I think it’s how you answer the phone, how you behave as a company, how your company is part of the design community. Basically everything you do to exchange ideas with your customers, the full package. This is actually what I enjoy the most.
These days I am not interested in design projects that are the basic – I want a new logo or I want a new business card. That’s just meaningless to me. You need to think of the bigger picture. That’s design to me, that’s design to me, it’s everything, it’s the whole world.
Lastly, what kind of advice do you have for up and coming designers like myself? People trying to make their mark on the design world.
I really do believe you have to be true to yourself, and be firm with your beliefs and convictions. Don’t let people discourage you because someone thinks your work is shit, or that you can’t achieve something.
I can’t tell you how many times I go pretty nasty reviews about my work, sometimes deserving and sometimes not. But even when deserving, don’t let it get you down. You can’t always step up to the plate and hit a home run, it’s normal for humans to fail.
The important part is to always keep moving forward and always keep creating things.
The Jack Daniel's custom font project is featured in Typography Sketchbooks by Steven Heller and Lita Talarico which includes some very impressive talent, such as Matthew Carter, Art Chantry, Milton Glaser, Maira Kalman, Erik Spiekermann, Rick Valicenti and Yee-Haw Industries, to name just a few.
Typography Sketchbooks by Steven Heller and Lita Talarico (designed by Ashley Olsson) is now published by Thames and Hudson (UK) and Princeton Architectural Press (USA), as well as in French and Italian editions.
Special thanks to Rod Cavazos on this effort.
Carlos Segura will be one of three judges, along with SRAM's Marketing Chief David Zimberoff and FK Day for the SRAM pART Project, where artists transform bike parts into art. The art is auctioned off and the proceeds help people in need through World Bicycle Relief.
To make something out of a box of 100 SRAM high-performance bike components. That's the challenge SRAM laid down for a group of noted artists from across the country, handpicked by Milwaukee's art Guru Terrence Coffman and SRAM's very own Marketing Chief David Zimberoff. The participating artists more than met this challenge.
The works they created were recently displayed at the Interbike national bicycle show. They will also be displayed in a juried exhibitionin Chicago and sold to collectors in an online auction. All proceeds from the auction will be donated to World Bicycle Relief.
The artist receiving top honors in the juried exhibition will be awarded a trip to Africa to visit people whose lives have been changed by the gift of a World Bicycle Relief bike.
World Bicycle Relief serves people in underdeveloped regions of the world who suffer from lack of access to health care, education, and economic opportunity. With a bicycle you can travel four times farther, carry five times more, and save up to three hours a day in travel time (based on a 10-mile commute). So you can get to a doctor, to school, or to work faster and more safely. Doors closed by distance are now opened, as is the way to a better life
Carlos Segura will give a lecture (which is open to the public) and workshop at the Visual Communications Dept at UTArlington in Dallas (with support form the AIGA) on the evening of September 28th, 2011. It will include a Pro Prep course and critique session for students of the University Of Texas at Arlighton.