I think the international community only know we exist through the FWA awards. We did get some interesting global awards too, but it's the craft that got us where we are and that's totally related to the exposure The FWA gives this art.
Please give us a brief bio of yourself.
Born in São Paulo, lived abroad for 10 year in 7 countries. Always been very visual, loved graphic arts before I knew what it really represented. And also loved computers. Joined the two passion in what then was starting to emerge: digital design. Long story short, today I run Gringo, a creative agency based back in São Paulo where it all started for me.
What do you do for inspiration?
I love to talk to brilliant people and hear the top minds in the digital marketing field have a go at how they think this will all turn out. Also inspired by the beauty of everyday design, from a door knob to a gigantic system inside a supermarket. Playing the cello and traveling would round off the list.
Please list 3 of your favourite sites.
The FWA, Google Maps and Facebook
What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?
Being able to put 70 people under one roof and give them interesting projects to work with, inspired them, teaching them some stuff I know better and learning a lot of other stuff. It's no easy to deal with a bunch of people, all their expectations, beauties, flaws - that's my biggest continuous challenge now and biggest accomplishment
How many hours do you work each week?
How do you relax or unwind?
I play the cello, go out to movies and travel.
If you weren't working on the internet what would you be doing?
I would love to try a career as a psychoanalyst.
What's your favourite part of your job? What's the hardest part of your job? What do you do when you get stuck?
Easiest: create. It used to be a challenge for me, but after 13 years in the digital business I sense that I am starting to understand what brings the most value to customers and I find that ideas come easier. The hardest is to manage people and get them to take out everything they expect to take out from Gringo. When I get stuck I cry on Fernanda's lap, my business partner.
What's the longest you've ever stayed up working on a project?
Not that much. Perhaps 3 full days. But having shitty sleep (less than 4 hours) that would be about 2 weeks or more.
If there are any pivotal experiences/decisions you could point to that helped shape your career, what would they be?
I think it was the decision to stop learning and start teaching. That means opening up my own business. I got to a point where I was dying to have the liberty to do things my way, after having worked with so many talented people. It was like raising a complicated child. It gives you so much love, but is also such a fucking little brat. It's from having everyday presenting itself as completely new opportunities that I love what I do.
What software could you not live without?
Email client. Have cloud computing email.
How many projects does your company juggle at any one time?
In terms of software, is there anything new you have been playing with lately or that has impressed you?
I like Android, the Google Maps API, HTML5... there are so many.
Who do you rate as being the top 3 design companies?
"Design" is a broad subject. I prefer to mention what countries I find understand design, in the big sense of the word, better: Japan / Sweden / The Netherlands
What effect on traffic do your new designs have?
You mean when we recreate an already existing site? Well, it depends a lot on what kind of overhaul you've got planned. Usually we destroy all the crap that was there before and rebuild the whole thing the way we find more sustainable for going forward in time. At least we expect 30% more traffic all things remaining equal (n activation)
Who is your target audience?
What area of web design lacks the most?
Typography, Interface. Just simple design. I am tired of the extra baroque stuff. Just don't make me think too hard, it gets in the way of beauty.
Are there any websites that have shone through as being pioneering in the last 5 years or so?
Many many. I love the example of the art projetc "We Feel Fine" http://www.wefeelfine.org/
They were so ahead of their time. Manipulating data and visualizing it beautifully with so many possibilities while us marketers were still spending tons of cash crating stand-alone cool flash experiences.
Has winning FWA awards helped you in any way?
Many ways. I think the international community only know we exist through the FWA awards. We did get some interesting global awards too, but it's the craft that got us where we are and that's totally related to the exposure The FWA gives this art.
When dealing with major clients, how difficult is it to meet the needs of such wide target audiences?
Not difficult. Our customers have so many needs that can be met. What's difficult is to get clients to see digital as not another point of contact in a campaign, but the way people live their lives now and more so in the future - so WAY more important than any TV commercial you can get.
What did your very first site look like? Is it still online?
It's no longer online. It looked terrible. I did a small project for a business my dad ran of vending machines. It was basically a Microsoft Front Page tempate - hideous. That was 1996
Have you written any books, if not do you plan to?
No books. God, I hardly have the time to finish my client presentations! Seriously, I am passionate about the digital world but I love when I"m not thinking about it, trying to crack it, finding the next thing. I think this advertising world can be really hermetic.
Are there things you do OUTSIDE of work to ensure that you are in the right mindset to be creative and/or successful in whatever you are doing?
I have had little time to do anything outside work lately. I think I rest. When I rest I can be more creative and that's a luxury.
What was the last digital effort you saw (or were a part of) that used social media in a way that really made sense. Why?
Everyone loves the power of Whopper Sacrifice, by Crispin. It opened up possibilities around the world. Not too excited about it's utility, which was zero, but the great user of resources that were already there.
Have you been a part of a campaign that was rooted in digital and THEN reached over into other consumer touchpoints? Did this happen organically or was it a part of the plan from the beginning?
Not really. When something like that happens, it's been planned to happen that way, it's not an accident.
The web is getting out of the web. Do you find that thinking in digital solutions alone hinders you? Do you feel the urge to solve the problem using all mediums necessary?
Yes, it does. That's why we no longer think digital alone. We thing solutions - and are humble enough to understand our core is digital and find partners around who can execute the offline part beautifully.
Looking 10 years in to the future, how far can websites go?
I think the future will be totally fragmented. don't think we will have desktop computers any longer, or local storage for that matter. I think websites will cease to be a place to "come meet the brand" only.
Of all the websites you/your company have produced, which one are you most proud of?
I love a small project called "I can bank it" http://www.essaeubanco.com.br/, which did extremely well and brought interesting returns. I also love the crazy projects we do just for fun, like "instant campaign" http://www.campanhainstantanea.com
Sounds corny but I love all projects equally. Only a few get torn apart by client who really don't have a clue, but I am glad to say that's been less than 5% lately.
What was the toughest thing you ever did with Flash? How long did you spend on it? Is it still online?
Not sure. Remembering from how hard the team worked, it must have been the Papervision structure of Coke Teens HappyMe, which is no longer online. We kind of created a complex environment game in Papervision, thousands of polygons on screen competing for processing power. All very challenging and fun.
Do you think Flash is here to stay?
Oh yes. I imagine it will continue developing fast and adding many functionalities out-of-the-box int the future.
There is perhaps a shift in web use these days. We are seeing a decline in the purely experiential sites in flash with huge production efforts, to a relationship with clients based on tools and services, that many times have simples interfaces. How do you see that trend developing? Will Flash suffer?
Yes! And I am happy about that. I was just finishing a presentation dealing with the rise of productive environments, and the death of the disruptive. Disruptive is fine and all, makes you laugh and you may send it to a friend but then what? I am interested in deeper engagement nowadays.
What are your views on design/graphic school. Do you think someone can get into the field without educational experience in a school environment?
For sure. I think about 70% of our designers never went to design school. I am not sure that the level of these school is high enough in Brazil. But I was very excited about folks coming out of HyperIsland and their general knowledge of projects and hands-on experimentation. I guess in some decades the business will be more mature and we can just pull from a great school someone who already knows a lot. Right now I find most everyone needs to be tought the basics again when they come to Gringo.
If you were a student entering this industry or an aspiring FWA award submitter, what advice would you give them?
Do one thing and do it well. I think our industry is hard, you make good money but you also give so much of your life and dedication in return. I've seen way too many generalists saying the same stuff all over and getting nothing done. And then I've seen a few super talented specialists that get the job done beautifully. Don't try to be a strategic and creative and technical person, for you will probably be half-ass in each.
How difficult do you find employing the right people in a world where everyone calls themselves a web designer?
I know... it's hard to find people in our industry for any position, period. The industry is accelerated and anyone who knows half of one ting end up getting hired, and they really do not know that they know very little. These are from the web designers of the world to the junior brand manager, who got out of marketing school a year ago and it not asking to run and come back with results with a huge brand in his hands.
How do you keep up with the latest capabilities of Flash or do you rely on other members of you team to do this?
I rely on my technology team!
What would be your ultimate vehicle to travel in?
When your company was just getting started, what did you find was most effective for getting new clients?
Good work. Never went scouting fro clients. They always came to us. good work attracts the right clients.
How have you learned so many Flash/design skills and techniques and can you offer any advice for newbies?
Unfortunately I haven't myself.
How do you keep your finger on the pulse of the latest web trends?
Check out The FWA, check out advertising award winners and read a couple of blogs. All the info is online.
What country excites you the most in terms of innovation?
There must be a project that you have always dreamed of doing, what is it?
Don't think about that anymore. I find that every project comes with an interesting challenge and my challenge is to get the right people on it and help them get to a great idea and execution.
What does the future hold for your company, or you as a person?
I think we will end up getting larger in many possible ways that may format itself. Digital is so powerful now, and we are dabbing outside the digital as well. I will take Gringo as far as I believe creative heads are needed to create beauty and better people's lives.
What are you excited about learning next and is there a long term challenge you are considering tackling?
I want to learn about strategy and technology more. That's the heart of the matter. Also interested in learning about my client's products in small details. I want the role of Gringo to be so much more than just communication or starting a dialogue between brand and consumer. I want to better the product itself.
What is the most expensive thing you have bought in the last week?
A Motorola Droid
What type of overcoat do you wear when Flashing, basically are you a labels man?
No labels here. Marketing people usually get averse to labels.
Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?
Keep it simple, take all the superfluous out. That's magic.
It has been a privilege, thanks very much
Thank you Mr. Rob!