On my first day working in an agency, the creative director gave me the task of interacting with every single website awarded an FWA up to that date. This way I could learn from the best and understand what makes a world-class interactive experience. I was so excited seeing all the animations, transitions, designs… the best of the internet right in front of me.
Please give us a brief bio of yourself.
I’m a lead creative and art director at Grow, born and raised in São Paulo, Brazil. I love music, design, creativity and technology. Back in 2001, creating websites was my hobby and I found a way to make a living out of that.
I started my career in 2006 creating Flash websites for movie campaigns, which was a lot of fun and gave me the chance to explore design, animation and development. In 2010 I joined the creative team at Grïngo where I was able to work on world-class interactive brand campaigns for Coca-Cola and Absolut.
In 2012 I moved to the United States (Norfolk, Virginia) to join Grow’s team – I’ve worked on Google’s Art, Copy & Code most recently, plus projects for Rdio, Nike, Burberry, Youtube, and more. Some of our work has being recognized by international award shows including CLIO, One Show, ADDY, and FWA.
What do you do for inspiration?
Living abroad is really inspiring. It keeps me curious and I’m constantly learning new things. I’m able to work on projects that I love, plus I have the opportunity to explore a new country and a different culture. As a creative, all your experiences outside of work are a great source of inspiration. I love music. I love writing songs that nobody will listen to and I try take beautiful pictures on Instagram when I go out.
Please list 3 of your favourite sites.
Youtube, Reverb.com, and TheFWA.
What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?
I would say that professionally, joining the team at Grow has been my biggest achievement. Aside from the adventure of moving to a different country, I’m able to lead and collaborate on some of the most innovative interactive projects out there, which is really rewarding.
How do you relax or unwind?
Playing the guitar is probably the thing I do the most when I’m not working. I play with my band back in Brazil whenever I can or I just get together with some friends around here to jam. I also love to travel and play video games.
If you weren't working on the internet what would you be doing?
Before starting to study advertising I thought about studying biology. So maybe I could have been a biologist? I’d love to be a teacher. Or something in the music industry.
What's your favourite part of your job? What's the hardest part of your job? What do you do when you get stuck?
I love the digital craft. Communicating ideas through a visual language is probably my favorite part of the job. Putting my headphones on and designing is one of the things that makes me lose sense of the time. I think the hardest part of our job is to make sure we’re designing for the users and not for ourselves. It needs to be beautiful but it needs a meaning. You have to be open to changes and iterations. Sometimes the best UI or UX design is the one you haven’t tried yet.
Whenever I’m stuck I like to share the work with people around me. I think it’s really helpful to have different perspectives on the things that I’m working on. I believe that people with different backgrounds can come up with something great when collaborating.
If there are any pivotal experiences/decisions you could point to that helped shape your career, what would they be?
There are a lot of decisions you make along the way that shape your path. A pivotal one was back in 2006, when I left a job at a big and stable marketing firm–with a good paycheck–to become an intern at an interactive agency. Designing websites is my passion so on one hand it was a no-brainer, but the future was unclear and of course I was afraid.
Looking back, I can tell that was the beginning of my career as a digital creative; after that move every next step has just been a natural progression. When you follow your passion and your beliefs, all the decisions are more clear and easier to make.
Has winning FWA awards helped you in any way?
Yes. Definitely. The FWA for me is a source of inspiration. On my first day working in an agency, the creative director gave me the task of interacting with every single website awarded an FWA up to that date. This way I could learn from the best and understand what makes a world-class interactive experience. I was so excited seeing all the animations, transitions, designs… the best of the internet right in front of me. Years later, being able to see my work up on the same site where I look for inspiration is a fantastic feeling. The recognition within the industry is also something notable and puts your work side by side with the best digital projects out there.
What did your very first site look like? Is it still online?
It was maybe in 2000 or 2001, and it was called “S.E. Verdão,” a horrible green website built using Frontpage Express for fans of my soccer team in Brazil. It’s not online anymore. But I still remember the url: www.geocites.com/severdao.
Have you written any books, if not do you plan to?
Does a photo book count? My wife is a great photographer and we always talk about this idea of moving into an RV with our two cats and driving all over the United States. It would be an amazing experience and an awesome trip, and we would document everything and publish it in a book. Who knows?
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?
Yes! Recently, Burberry launched a beauty line inspired by Grow’s Burberry Kisses project. It’s so exciting to see something that started as a digital campaign become a real product.
Also, back in 2011 I was part of a campaign in Brazil for Coke Zero called “Quanto mais Zero Melhor”, which means something like “The More Zeros the Better”. Our team at Grïngo came up with a digital campaign idea for a series of videos to run on YouTube, but Coke was so pleased with this concept by the end that it became their national TV campaign.
Both of these examples happened naturally and were not part of the initial plan. I feel like working with digital is not just “the web” anymore. As our work is starting to blur the line between different media, we’ll see this happen more and more often.
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?
I think this is starting to happen naturally. The Art, Copy & Code projects I’ve been working on at Grow are always challenging us to create something meaningful and relevant to the audience regardless of the medium. It’s about where and how people consume media, not about being stuck within a format. Again, I think the line between digital and other media is so blurred at this point that something can start as a digital campaign and easily go anywhere else.
If you look at Grow’s Nike Phenomenal Shot project, it’s a great example of reacting to something happening in the real world–in this case the World Cup. We quickly gave users this frozen moment in time, then let them add their own personality to it and use it wherever and however they wanted. Fans used it to support their teams, to make fun of their friends, to create posters, and on and on.
Phenomenal Shot is 100% on the web, but was designed to feel like an experience that reflects natural human behavior. We created something you can interact with as if you’re using a camera, but the ways you personalize and share are fast and smooth like an app. We found a way to help people express themselves–which happens to be a website–but we always hope our work leaves the web and becomes something people talk about as an amazing experience.
Looking 10 years in to the future, how far can websites go?
I’m not sure what the future of websites will be, but I want to be part of it.
I do think they’re going to get out of the screen. In 10 years we’ll probably be designing experiences for things like Microsoft’s HoloLens, Oculus Rift, or Nest–which by then will be much more developed. Think about the experiences we were creating five years ago, so different than today.
How many hours do you work each week?
I don’t really keep track of my hours this way. I work as much as I need, to get my work to the level that I want and that the project needs. I think this mindset has been really successful throughout Grow. We keep a great work/life balance because everyone is responsible for managing their own time and making the best use out of it.
Of all the websites you/your company have produced, which one are you most proud of?
This is hard to answer but I’d say Burberry Kisses. It was a beautiful project to be part of since the beginning. This project means a lot to me personally, professionally, and to Grow. I love the simplicity and the beauty of the concept and the level of detail on every pixel. It’s a result of hard work and a great collaboration between Grow, Burberry and Google that later was awarded with 3 FWAs, a Clio Prestige, One Show, and more.
If you were a student entering this industry or an aspiring FWA award submitter, what advice would you give them?
You need to experiment. There are so many opportunities out there and so much knowledge accessible to everyone. We’re a lucky generation that’s able to explore and learn to do whatever we want. Try, try again, and maybe try one more time. There’s no right or wrong in the creative field, so don’t be afraid to share ideas. Also, make sure you work with people who inspire you.
How do you keep your finger on the pulse of the latest web trends?
Aside from reading and looking for references, I work with a lot of talented folks that are always sharing what’s new and what’s best out there. Talking to people and exchanging trends is a way that I have found really useful to keep up to date.
There must be a project that you have always dreamed of doing, what is it?
I’d love to build an electric guitar from scratch. Designing a ‘real thing’ seems amazing. I’d love to choose the colors, the tones, work on the wood, build all the electrical parts, design a logo for the headstock. That would be nice. Man, I should get started!
Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?
Work hard and be nice to people. It’s a classic but it’s very true.