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I'm an illustrator/page designer/graphic artist/ for Florida Today newspaper, a 100,000-circulation daily in Melbourne, FL. I've been freelancing since 1997, but have not made the move to full-time freelance. Y'know, mouths to feed, medical benefits, the golden handcuffs.

My ispot portfolio

My Newspagedesigner portfolio

My blog

I used to do lot of work for Forbes, Interactive Week and Business 2.0, mostly business mags and computer mags, but that dried up when the economy took a downturn around 2000. Lately, I've been having more luck with alternative weeklies like Riverfront Times in St. Louis, MO, and Cleveland Scene. Small budgets, but lots of fun. A little edgier than the stuff I can do for the newspaper.

When did you first decide to become a graphic designer/ illustrator? Was there a pivotal moment?

I became fascinated with drawing in junior high. There was a kid there who drew the Rat Fink-type drawings and I thought that was so cool, so I'd try to draw stuff like he did. He grew up to be a preacher.

I spent most of junior high and senior high doodlin' when I should been skoolin', but never thought of taking any art classes. Then I floundered through a couple of years of community college, took two drawing classes, not having any idea what I was gonna do for a job or career. I had no idea that illustration could be a career.

So after two aimless years of community college, I took a night job at UPS, loading and unloading trucks, working on my cardboard-drawing technique (lots of cardboard boxes there!) and occasionally mailed out my drawings to magazines.

After a few years of that, and getting some drawings published in an East Coast surfing mag and Easy Rider (groan!), I went to The Miami Herald with my drawings. Out of pity, I guess, they hired me as a freelancer to do one illustration a week for a features column.

Then one day, one of their staff artists got fired on the spot for refusing to do a locator map and they offered me a part-time position.

So I basically learned about graphic design and illustration on the job. And how to make locator maps.

I spent a few years at The Miami Herald using pre-historic tools like Rapidograph pens and X-acto knives. I moved to the Melbourne area in the mid-80s and was hired at Florida Today as a staff artist to do illustrations and infographics. We were just getting started on Macs, mostly for maps and charts.

Around the same time, I became more involved with page design and joined the Society for News Design

Then one day, one of the tech guys at the newspaper brought in a copy of Photoshop. I was like the one of the apes in 2001: A Space Odyssey, y'know?, when they approach the monolith? I approached it cautiously, loaded it into my Mac, jumped back in awe at the tools palettes, tried some of the brushes, scratched my head, jumped back some more, and began banging the mouse against my drawing table until an illustration emerged.

Who or what inspires you?

Everything, everything. People-watching. Movies. Looking through illustration annuals, illustrators Websites, magazines. Collecting examples of graphic design from my travels in Central America, the Caribbean and Europe.

Music: Underworld, NIN, GrooveSalad on Soma-FM, ambient, trip-hop.

Architecture by Frank Gehry.

Movies by Pedro Almodovar, Tim Burton, Danny Boyle, Robert Rodriguez,
Guillermo del Toro.

Artists: Salvador Dali, Joan Miro, Frieda Kahlo, Mark Ryden, Bob Dob, John

Graphic designers: David Carson, Milton Glaser.

Where does your training come from? Self-taught? College/Art School?

Self-taught. Totally. In one nude-model figure drawing class I took in college, the instructor said "Man, you just can't stop doing caricatures, can you!" and I thought I was drawing realistically. So, so much for that .

How do you keep "fresh" within your industry?

For graphic design, I look at a lot of magazines and Society for News Design annual. For illustration, I'm constantly looking at a lot of different artists, in books and on the Web, to see what they're doing, and to incorporate what I see into my illustrations.

What are some of your current projects?

I've been working on a series of GothGirl illustrations that I hope to market as bobblehead toys, postcards, calendars, t-shirts, etc.

Which of your projects are you the most proud of? And why?

I'm most proud of my personal projects, because they're the most fun and they give me the most pleasure. Then if I can sell a personal piece, then so much the better.

I recently did a series of illustrations for The Good Life, a slick monthly mag published by The Asbury park Press in NJ.

Are there any areas, techniques, mediums, projects in your field that you have yet to try?

Since all my work is digital, I wanna do something to get my hands dirty. I wanna throw some paint. I wanna scavenge electronic shops and junk yards and do some found-art montages.

Any advice to the novice designer/ illustrator?
For the novice illustrator: Develop your own style. Don't quit your day job. Wash your hands. Use sunscreen.

What makes a designed piece or illustration successful?
If I'm satisfied with it. If the art director is pleased with it. If I get a positive comment from a reader (or the writer of the story I'm illustrating.) If it makes someone wonder how the illustration was created. If I get paid within 30 days.

What do you do to keep yourself motivated and avoid burn-out?

Fortunately, I don't have that problem. There's a party going on in my mind all the time. The only problem is getting that party to quiet down when I'm trying to sleep. I also carry around a sketch pad, keep one next to my bed and save all my doodles.

And finally, what is the best thing on prime-time TV right now?

Marge Helgenberger as Catherine Willows on CSI.

Recent Work:


Anonymous said...

You rock, Octavio! These are way cool.

Anonymous said...

Sweet Site!

Thought sunscreen would prevent burnout...So THAT'S what I've been doing wrong all these years!

Choper Nawers! said...

Your work is how you make illo out of different parts.....Congrats....

Right2Carry said...

Octavio, did you do your first commissioned work for Alan Kyle's run for Student Council Prez at Kinloch Jr. High? Do the letters MMMS mean anything to you? Spending lunch money on "Marvel Thursday" once a month at the drug store? No??? Then move to the next email. If all that fires off a few unburned-out neurons... then you were my best pal for a while there starting in Mrs. Mast's 5th grade class with Gerald Hassel, Bobby Leo, Alan Kyle, Juan de Santa Maria, a crap load of girls - and me... Tom Wyce. Anything??? If so, email me back at PS - I live in Palm Bay and grudgingly subscribe to that liberal fish wrap you work for. I like to call it "Pravda Today".

Unknown said...

This blog is very helpful for me so thanks for sharing this kind of information and keep further posting.

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