Versus / by Carlos Segura

Segura is showcased in the 8th issue of Indonesia's Versus Magazine focusing on client relations. Ismiaji Cahyono interviews Carlos Segura in the March 2010 issue.


Below are just a few of the Q&A bits.

1. What is good design?
Design is not just a "visual" medium. It is a complete experience, one which draws emotion from intelligence and makes the experience a memorable one, which in turn drives you to act.

2. What is the Carlos Segura signature design?
I'd like to think that it is process more than a visual fingerprint. I work pretty hard at it.

When I am introduced to a new project, the deciding factor for me, on whether it makes me feel interested or not, is if I will be able to make a noticeable point of difference. Not just doing a job to get it done, or to make money, or to even simply answer an assignment. It is to truly do something that has not been done before. I tall order these days. 

I also try to step out of the moment and try to put aside the actual process so I can move forward to the user experience. This redirects our ideas to focus on how we would like to feel in someone else's shoes, something that is sometimes lost in the heat of creating. 

A good design is nice to look at, but an idea makes you look at good design. 

3. What is good design business?
Like any business. Success. But success doesn't just appear at your front door one day. Success only comes with very hard work. And, it takes time.

You have to know what you want and who you want to be as a business. I know that we all want to be involved in different disciplines (I am guilty of that myself sometimes) but I think it is best to focus and be great at one thing rather than mediocre at alot of things.

4. How is good design related to good design business, in terms of creativity and client relations? Approaches and strategies?
I do not subscribe to the idea that design is a "service industry". I make an effort to lead, to educate and to elevate the deliverable. 

This comes with many pitfalls. Clients tend to ask for what they want, not for what they need. They don't mean to do it. It is often a response to the competition, or to what others are doing, or to even clearing their "to-do" list so they can get to the next problem they have to solve.

Some solutions take time to mature. This takes a certain amount of vision and commitment from the client. Today's market makes this quite difficult, since we all want instant returns.

An observation we've had is that when offering this guidance to your client, it might not be welcomed and so this becomes a moment that defines the relationship. Primarily because it brings up a choice. If the client does not agree to do what you recommend, you can either do it his way or your way, but you must select. Recognize this because that selection will define you.

It will also come with risks. The trick is to accept the risks of making a decision. That might mean getting fired. The people who are crazy and think they can change the world are the ones who do - (A quote in an Apple ad).

I have found that companies often behave like humans. Sometimes they make the wrong choice out of negligence and purpose, but most times they do it as a measure of insecurity. They do admirable things and they have faults that raise their ugly head from time to time. I have been in countless meetings were the "boss" says something completely idiotic. Somehow, everyone in the room knows it, except him, but the process continues down the wrong path because no one is secure enough to speak out.

A common experience we have usually brings this to light... when a company wants (or thinks it needs) a new logo.

The first mistake they make it thinking that a new logo will make them a new company. But you can't change and stay the same. Becoming someone new is a bi-product of your complete behavior and that is not captured in a logo.

This can get tricky when guiding your client because it could be interpreted that you are saying this to turn the assignment into a bigger effort. Your reputation will play a role here because if there is trust in the relationship, then there is a greater possibility of the two parties agreeing to a mutual goal.

The same with advertising. There are so many companies saying the same thing. In most cases, you could change the logo and it would make no difference whatsoever.

Everybody is somebody, but nobody wants to be themselves. (Gnarls Barkley)

5. How do you feel about pitching? What's your attitude toward clients who requests free ones (in Indonesia this is a huge problem because most pitches aren't compensated and considered a norm).
I quit my last agency, before starting my own business, over this very issue.

I do not, have never and will never do free work. Period. It is ridiculous to ask someone to do this. No client that asks you to do this will do it for you. It is disrespectful, devalues our industry and the talent in it. People only value things they pay for. So, if they want your work for free, then they don't think very highly of you.

Spec work is considered a norm there because you normally do it. Stop it, and that will become the norm.

6. I know you also love making typefaces. Is creating and selling products just as important as offering design as solution?
It is important, but it is also very different. It is a truly individual experience because you are living a raw moment of creation. It is your expression. The ones who like it will buy it, and the ones who do not won't. But the critical experience is that no one is telling you what to do and it make you feel truly free. 

7. How do you see the creative world, specifically graphic design in say 10 years?
This is a very complicated question. It seems that many aspects of our industry are turning into a commodity. It isn't special anymore (certainly as viewed by the people who ask for free work... as you mention above).

Additionally, more and more people are getting into this field, so the stage is very crowed.

Here is a great TV spot that speaks to a similar issue...

For the "uneducated consumer", it is becoming increasingly difficult to weed-out the good ones from the bad ones, although having said that, there will always the the masters that rise to the top.

The great side of this too, is that it is giving a platform for creatives that would have otherwise not had the opportunity to be seen. Human creativity is an incredible power and will never suffer. We are built for it. We always want to improve our surroundings.

8. What's your advice to aspiring young Indonesian graphic designers?
Look at everything from many different angles and soon you?ll have an angle of your own. Don?t let things happen to you. Make things happen for you. If you?re going to dream, dream big, it?s free.

I have quite a few, but one recent comment by Chris Economaki makes it all come together. "Don't waste time getting ready. Stay ready".

Remember... small minds kill big ideas.