DS: Hey Isabel, tell us a bit about yourself…
Isabel: I am a Spanish art director at Locomotive, a digital-first design agency based in Montréal. My career started in the world of language and arts. I have a background in English Studies and North American literature, and some years ago, I made a career change into the design world. As a self-taught designer, finding my path was challenging but I am happy where I am now.
My background in language and arts influences my work; I am fortunate to have gained vast knowledge in other fields that I can now incorporate into the digital world. I love editorial and print, and I am fascinated by typography.
DS: What passions and experiences led you to become a designer?
Isabel: My curiosity for learning new things. I am a person who has lived in different countries and always looked for new experiences. Most people do not know that before starting my career as a designer, I used to be a Humanities and Arts High School teacher and worked in different parts of the world. When I moved to the United States, I was captivated by the feeling that one should have the opportunity to live other lives. I thought the world had too much to offer to do the same thing every day. So, the idea of transitioning to design started lingering in me. Some years ago, I quit my job as an educator and started design. I'm very glad I did that.
DS: Do you have a particular creative process or philosophy?
Isabel: I believe that the creative process starts way before the actual craft. When working on an Art Direction, I take time to look for things I like and value; I follow my instincts. In that first step, I want to feel something and get inspired by music and films; I need to gather my emotions to produce something that transmits what I just felt. We deliver our best work when we look deeper and search for our senses and emotions. In the end, designers are artists in their unique way.
DS: What was the inspiration for the visual of Books of Design?
Isabel: I started exploring the work of one of my favorite painters, Egon Schiele, a master of Expressionism. Schiele's work is noted for its passion, raw sexuality, and self-portraits. His work is magnetic. The brutality he used in his work is more captivating than the flawless beauty of Mucha's women. However, when comparing both artists' work, there are striking similarities. My first step in the creative process was rereading both artists' biographies and trying to understand their work more. When starting an art direction, I try to look for inspiration away from the computer; after that, everything happens naturally.
DS: Are design principles part of your design/ creative process?
Isabel: I love playing with rhythm, repetition and harmony. When working on a project, everything needs to make sense. I work on creating a cohesive vision that feels harmonious. I also consider elements like mood and tone, symbolism and imagery. To me, all this is more important than grids or standard layouts.
DS: Which of these design principles has the most impact on your work and why?
Isabel: I like creating work that incorporates my experiences and personality; as I said before, I think the best designers are the ones who have a voice and don't lose it when new trends emerge. My main design principle is to be true to your taste and learn to advocate for it. Be cohesive in your project, but also be cohesive in your own work as a whole.
DS: How do you see AI influencing the future of design and creativity?
Isabel: Nothing will ever beat the creative power of human beings. Something makes us unique, and that's the power to feel. Emotions are what make us human. Make us real. AI may enhance creative processes but will never replace us. I guess we will be able to do complex tasks easier thanks to AI, and get help when stuck, but I would still rely on humans more than on technology.
DS: What’s your one piece of advice for creating work that stands out?
Isabel: Stop trying to be good at many things and focus on mastering one. Don't try to learn every skill. Concentrate on what you like the most and enjoy the process to understand that skill; nobody needs to be good at everything. You can be good at many things, but to be truly great at something, you may have to obsess a little.
DS: What sparks your imagination?
Isabel: Watching a film or listening to music. Nothing beats that feeling. I often create design concepts out of a song or after rewatching a favorite movie.
"Naranjo - Etxeberria in Madrid is a design studio I have a major crush on these days. You should definitely check out their work."
Isabel's Likes and Loves
Isabel shares where she turns to for creative inspiration
Color: Black. And I use it too much.
Artist: Egon Schiele. My favorite painter.
Designer: Tough choice, but these days I have a crush on Naranjo - Etxeberria - a studio based in Madrid.
Book: I keep going back to Less and More: The Design Ethos of Dieter Rams. It’s about the relevance of the famous Braun designer Dieter Rams in modern design.
Music: Anything by Godspeed You! Black Emperor. GY!BE is a Canadian post-rock band which originated in Montréal in 1994.