Proposito interviews Segura  (May 30, 2011)

Rodrigo Teixeira's Proposito interviews Carlos Segura for his blog from SVo Roque, Brazil. (You can follow Rodrigo on Facebook and Twitter)


proposito

The post is below in English.

How did you decided to be a graphic designer? And when did you first notice your passion for typography?
When I was growing up in Miami, at a very early age, I became a member of the musical group called Clockwork as the drummer's roadie, and then eventually replaced him as the drummer. This band was a real business, and we treated it as such. We had two official management services and a very strict format, procedure and schedule. We were quite big in the Miami music scene in the seventies and were booked two years in advance.

This gave us alot of responsibilities but also alot of duties, and mine were three... I was the drummer, drove the equipment truck, and promoted our gigs.

cs clockwork

Carlos Segura backstage at "Pete & Lenny's" in 1976.

At the time I had no idea I was doing "graphic design" (since I didn't even know what that was) I was just simply letting people know where we were playing (similar to "rave" flyers today).

But somehow, my flyers were rising to the top of the recognizable band promotions of the day, and I got known for these "press-type" black-and-white promotional pieces.

12 or so years later, when I left the band, I had a portfolio full of these creations and my god-father suggested I go interview at a design firm. I did, and I got my first real break at an engineering firm in New Orleans as their head designer.

While working there, I answered an ad in the Baton Rouge newspaper for an art director position at a small agency, and I got the job. During my 9-months there, we did countless projects, entered them all in the local ad club competition, and won more awards than alot of the other agencies in that market, so the question was raised... "who is this guy we've never heard of?". An industry trade magazine did a little story on the controversy, and an ad agency in Chicago read about it, contacted me, made me an offer, and off I went to Chicago in 1980.

You have worked in several of the greatest agencies of USA. How was the decision process of going solo? How were the first days as studio owner?
I got into the ad agency business purely by chance and simply due to the fact that because I've never had any formal training or education on the subject, I really didn't know the difference between advertising and design. I just wanted a venue to express my creativity and needed a job to do so, so I just looked for a place to work.

While there, I got plenty of "on the job" training, and began to see the differences, mostly in how it made me (or the creative process) feel. Design began to feel more like a personal expression and an organic experience versus the methodical, packaged and often mass-marketed needs of creating advertising. I mean no disrespect to either discipline whatsoever, it's just simply different.

So for years I contemplated leaving and starting my own shop, but those were the good old days of the advertising business, and things were good. Very good. I got too comfortable and put it off for longer than I should have, but my unhappiness got the better of me, and in 1990, I quit and started Segura Inc.

I was busy from day one. I was lucky. During my time in the agency world, I chose to specialize in "print". This at a time when "broadcast" was king (with 60 second TV spots being the norm) and "mulit-media" beginning to see the light of day. Every art director wanted to go shoot a commercial. I wanted to craft an ad (and at that time it meant by hand).

To this day, there is a particular joy that comes from art directing, designing, crafting and type-directing a piece of communication that is very special and not there for me in other forms of communications. Once that layout comes to life, it feels like it is a part of you. I like that feeling. And I had the reputation.

So when word got out that I was in essence a "free-agent", I got calls from agencies asking me to do their print, and got heavily involved in their new business pitches. Work flow continued to grow each year, and while there are simply too many to mention, it was mostly agency work at the beginning, then shifting to direct work for clients from all over the world.

What's the big differences of working in big corporations and being the owner of your business?
When you have your own business, you do it all. You have to.

Having your own business will be the most rewarding thing you do in life. Even if you remove the possible financial benefits, the freedoms and options it brings to your life is priceless. Just know that you will never work harder in your life because all of a sudden, everything will be your problem.

I imagine that today you have to be an executive, not just the creative force in your job. How do you divide your time between administrative tasks and the creation processes?
This is addressed a bit above, but managing your size is the best way to manage your time and tasks. Don't grow to get big, grow to be great.

Do things that are important, mean something to you and have a degree of craftsmanship and quality to them. Doing just a few of those a year can and will be a much more powerful statement that doing hundreds of little, and typical projects. Anybody can do that.

It's hard not to mention Seven, wich I think it's the best title sequence ever done for a movie. Do you still make this kind of work? Do you have any favorite you've done in these days?
To be clear, I did not do "Seven" (wish I did) but I do agree with you that is is one of the best title sequences done, and one that contributed to the change of this type of work.

With the boom of tablets, people are more and more reading stuff directly on the screen. What, in your opinion, are the greatest differences of designing type for screen?
There are quite a few obvious technological differences, but the "truth" of typography is with the type, not the delivery vehicle. What I mean by that is that if you plan on using a typeface as text, it needs to do it's job as such, whether it's a newspaper or an iPad.

When I was at your speech, You've talked about experimenting wild things (I remember a CD cover involving a dead squirrel). Do you still find room for this kind of experimentation?
Absolutely. creation comes from everything.

Every single day, creatives think in varied ways. I tend to process thoughts for quite some time before I get to the heart of the matter, and the way I do it is to close my eyes and "get away". For me, its when I begin the process of going too sleep. I stumble onto this temporary place of "thought" that I do not often have the opportunity to visit during my busy days.

It's quite peaceful, and very optimistic, because it makes me feel like I can do anything. Void of all the "real" limitations that the world places on me.

The ideas that are born from this feel authentic, and not "prepared" or "forced" because of a task or deadline.

In two specific examples, it gave birth to our sister companies, 5inch and T26.

Who are your major influences in design and type? And what other activities inspires you?
It's not a "who" but more a "what", and the answer to that is cliche... Everything. I think it is probably limiting to exclude varied sources as inspiration, not that creatives do, since I believe that all creatives tend to be influenced by their surroundings as a whole.

I am on the computer almost all day long (except when sleeping). I do a tremendous amount of blogging (for all of my sites) so the amount of input I get is almost unreal. It exposes me to all of the great thing humans can do and is quite impressive.

Is there some dream job in graphic design or typography that you still haven't done? What would that be?
I have always wanted to be a sound engineer or editor.

What's your advice for young designers who want to build a career in typography?
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.


carlos segura

Carlos Segura. (photo by Jeff Sciortino)

segura logo final on white 1

Segura logo.

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