Interview with Emiliano Rodriguez (2004)

Emiliano Rodriguez was a complete stranger to me until I came across his website in 2004, which was both refreshing and plain simple. I’m sure most of you would have loved it. Another oddity is that he’s from Argentina, not the most typical country you hear about in big gossip-magazines. For me, reasons enough to ask him a few questions, the answers can be read underneath. This interview appeared in Vacuum! Magazine in 2004.

Hello Emiliano, how’s life in Argentia? Can you give us a brief introduction on who you are and what your main-activities involve?
Emiliano: Hi Thomas! Well… it is not easy to live in Argentina nowadays in terms of social, economic and political situation. We are trying to come up from a very deep crisis caused by years of political corruption. But I think this “enviroment” activates some kind of movement in people… sometimes desperation brings up creativity.
Who am I? I’m a man passionate with images. My main professional activity is web and brand design but I’m also very involved in photography. I love to travel, to know new cultures, new people and I love to have a visual record of things that happen to me during my trips. I hope that some day I can come up with a good photography project where I can mix travelling, photography and design.

As you state on your website, you’ve won several awards. Can you name us your favourite, or just the feelings this gives you, knowing that your work is highly appreciated all over the world…
Emiliano: I don’t really have a favorite, but I can tell you that it’s very refreshing to know that some great designers/non-designers appreciate my work.

Your interface is one of those that is simple and special. Once you saw it, it never leaves your head. Was this the intention of it in the first place? What was the basic idea of making the interface as it is right now?
Emiliano: Well… I really think that less is more… if you have a certain idea of what you want of a project before you begin sketching, then you don’t need to begin adding elements or effects. In a design, if you take out something and it keeps working, then that element was a nuisance. The basic idea of my portfolio was just what you see: having my work developed on me.

People can order pictures through your website. How does this go? Can we choose between the digital format or the printed format?
Emiliano: It goes better than what I expected! I’m offering prints but I’m also open to sell them in digital as royalty free pictures.

Never had the idea to sell high-resolution pictures on CDROMs?
Emiliano: Not really. The thing is that the cost for that kind of stuff would be too elevated compared to any stock image source and I think people wouldn’t pay what I belive all my pictures are worth. Anyway, I would consider any offer.

I think it’s quite rare that we hear about top-notch webdesigners from parts of the worl like Argentina. Not that there’s a lack of them in your country, but somehow they don’t reach us out here. What do you think the reason for this is?
Emiliano: Hmmm… I think that’s because here it is difficult to reach European/USA markets. Believe it or not, we have one of the best graphic design universities in the world (with a lot of weak points too) and many people get surprised with the quality of pieces of artwork made by argentinians/latin-american designers. The language may be a big issue as here not many people speaks other than spanish. If you go to Spain you will find lots of great argentinian designers working for important agencies. I believe that in some years, when designers here really realize about the potential of our work in foreign markets, you will start seeing a lot more of latin-american web/graphic work.

By the looks of your interface, you like the outdoors a lot (grass, birds singing, …). Are you an outdoor-person?
Emiliano: I love being outdoors but I must accept I’m quite extreme on that. Sometimes I spent weeks without leaving my home, working on my computer and barely leaving home to see my friends and family. But then, when I plan a trip, I like to be out as long as I can, sometimes in a lonely place, in a tent and without electricity. My trip to the north-west of Argentina, Bolivia and Peru, for example, lasted about 4 months. Now I’m planning a 6 months trip to Mexico and Guatemala… that’s a place I’ve not yet been to and that I really want to know.

What’s your favourite spot you ever went to?
Emiliano: Hmmm… that’s a difficult question! There are lots of places I love. The city of Cusco in Perú… that city is an exiting/rare/sad mixture of European and Inca culture, it has a strange attraction and it is difficult to leave! La Habana, in Cuba is also a city that caused me a strange mixture of sad/happy feelings… cuban people are great. From Europe I loved Barcelona but I think I was too young when I was there to really appreciate it… I hope I can go there again sometime.

Name one location, no matter where, you want to visit, and why that particular place?
Emiliano: As I told you before I would love to go to Mexico/Guatemala. I don’t know exactly why. I love latin-american culture and mexicans have some kind of thing that makes me love them. All mexicans I knew where very friendly and helpfull. Moreover, Mexico has tons of great and beautiful places.

You once started with the first version of Flash (Macromedia), not like most designers that thought Flash was just a trend that would blow over. How do you think back on that time? Was it a revolutionairy piece of software?
Emiliano: I strongly think so. It’s true that in lots of cases we, designers, make abuse of it. But I think that it’s within sight of everyone that there are sites that display really amazing experiences we wouldn’t ever imagine to see on the internet some years ago. We don’t have to forget that Flash is only a tool and without an idea/concept there’s no app that can make our site different from others.

If someone would ask you some good advice on ‘how to start as a freelancer’, what would you say?
Emiliano: First gain some professional experience working in an agency and then, when you finally feel you are ready to go on your own, take your time to build up your portfolio, and find the way to differentiate it from all the others. That would not do everything but would drive potential clients to your site for sure.

These days, it’s hard to get a webdesign-job without any knowledge of ServerSide scripting at all. Do you think this is correct? Can you deal with major projects without the use of ASP(.NET) or PHP?
Emiliano: That’s right. It’s good to know some PHP/ASP code but it’s difficult to be updated in everything. So, for major projects I work along a programmer who can deal with that kind of things faster and better than me so I concentrate in the interface design, which is my main concern.

Maybe an odd question, one of my best friends is getting married with a girl from Argentina. Can you advice him to go and live in Argentina and build a life from scratch overthere, or should he stay in Europe?
Emiliano: Jajaja! I don’t really know what to advice him… it depends on what he wants his life to be like. If he likes tranquility (not in terms of peaceful places that we surely have, but in terms of economic and social peace) I would suggest to really think it twice. Personally, I love Argentina and, in some way, we are a mixture of latin and european cultures so perhaps it would be less strange than to move to Bolivia for example, which is a lovely country but which has nothing of european but its churches. By the way… we have the best women in the world!

That’s it i’m afraid. Thanx a lot for the interest and effort for this interview. It is -ofcourse- highly appreciated. You may end in beauty…
Emiliano: My pleasure. I invite you all to browse my site and leave me your comments. Thanks!

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