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August 14, 2004

{     Interview : Nando Costa     }    

Nando Costa was born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, finishing college there and promptly moving to the United States in 1999 to begin his design career. He worked for some of the bigger and better design companies out there, such as WDDG and Digital Kitchen, all the while dabbling in most all medias. You see, Nando has been drawing and painting since he was knee high to a fly, however these days you'll find most of his work in print, on the web, and in animations for little companies like HBO, VH1, and Cartoon Network. He has also worked on projects for clients such as Nike, Diesel, Coca-Cola, and Dolce & Gabbana. Yeah, no small deal.

Also heavily involved in online design circles, Nando has contributed to such web heavyweights as K10k, Newstoday, Infourm, and Designiskinky, as well as having his portfolio website, Hungryfordesign, win it's own bucketload of praise, including it's fair share of awards (Macromedia, Webby Awards, etc). He has spoken at several major design and Flash conferences, as well as having shown his work in both US and international galleries. Not stopping there, Nando has shown his incredible animation at Resfest, the acclaimed international film festival, created design and video for many major and minor label musicians, and has since traveled back to Brazil in order to run Nakd, a motion and animation firm creating work for MTV, AMC, Nike, and the Anime Network.

So, a little while back, not satisfied with how he thought most people perceived his beloved native Brazil, Nando assembled and published a book titled "Brasil Inspired" in which he gathered many of today's established and emerging talents to show us their interpretations and impressions of Brasil using only their art. It was wonderful (read our review here).

So in other words, the guy has more creativity in his little pinky-toe than most of us have in our whole wasted noggins, he seems to never stop working, is incredibly interesting, and is a really nice guy as well. See for yourself...

Shane: The exquisite book you've put together, Brasil Inspired, is a fantastic collection of supreme talents conveying the Brazilian vibe using their signature styles. Such a huge endevour had to have been incredible to tackle, so how exactly did the book go from idea to publication?
Nando: My initial idea was a book about the young scene of Brazilian Graphic Design. After I approached Die-Gestlaten with the project, I had numerous conversations with their staff until we re-shaped the idea into inviting artists from around the world to create original material that would represent their impressions on Brazil and its culture. The process took quite some time to be finished mostly because after we reviews the material, the publishing house realized they needed more, which brought us to a second phase of inviting more contrinutors and etc. We initially also had a DVD with animations created for the same theme. The publishing house was not content with the amount of videos provided so the project was canceled. It was quite sad because I was the only contact they had for the project so all the guilt fell on my shoulders. This is one of the reasons to really make the project happen so my plan is to once again invite more artists to create animations whcih will be featured in a DVD to be launched early next year, if everything goes well.

Currently I am putting together this little magazine entitled "Brasil - Uninspired" which, as opposed to the concept of the Brasil Inspired website, will be focusing on the other side of the Brazilian culture and asking local Artists to create images that speak about unfriendly subjects. As of right now it's still in a very early stage but I believe it will be out for sale in October. The intention is not necessarily to do the opposite of the Brasil Inspired project, but to let people create art about things we read in the newspapers or experience in everyday life in Brazil. I believe it is important to put it out on paper rather than see it all with our eyes and not even bother expressing out opinions. It seems like Brazilians are becoming way too passive about things the country's problems. Most are selfish for focusing only on their own lives, and not the well being of the country and other people. I can't say I'm the example to be followed but at least I have realized it and wish to change at least some part of what bothers me.

You're involved in both the incredibly well portfolio'ed Ebeling Group, and a cornerstone of Nakd.tv. It took me a bit to wrap my head around what all you were involved in and who you worked with, so would you mind breaking it down for our readers?
Nakd (www.nakd.tv) is a design studio located in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It was created by myself and my wife Linn Olofsdotter (www.olofsdotter.com) along with a partnership with the founder of the Ebeling Group (www.theebelinggroup.com), Mick Ebeling. We create mostly motion graphics for TV Networks and Advertising Agencies from the US, Europe and Japan. The company has plans of either expanding or moving its offices to New York City and / or perhaps Los Angeles. Hungryfordesign (www.hungryfordesign.com) is my personal website which i use as a live archive of all my professional and personal work.

We can tell that you like to pull lots of different people together around common ideas. Do you actually like to collaborate with others or are you more of a one-man band?
For a while, I was, like other creatives, a bit protective of my own work and felt strange when it had to be manipulated by other designers. Since the beggining of Nakd, where I had to creative direct as many as 10 individuals at a time, it was necessary to let go of the selfish ownership and start to look at others for collaboration. My wife was the first to experience that since I started to integrate a lot of her hand-drawn illustrative work with my vector shapes. Nowadays I really enjoy working wih other designers and it does not feel like a c0ompetition anymore. Instead it feels like it actually makes the work better.

Do you do much work off the computer screen?
Unfortunately yes. But since June I have started to paint once again which besides being quite relaxing, has also inspired myself and Linn quite a lot. It was after this change that we created Lard and Joy (www.lardandjoy.com) which will be our little online store to seel our artwork, wearables and prints. The site will be launched within the next weeks.

Do you consider yourself successful thus far, and do you see yourself in the same field in 20 years?
It's satisfying to get recognized for what you like to do. I guess anyone can agree with that. Even to be able to get a job is an important step and maintaining it is another, so I guess I can consider myself a successful person in my profession. As far as being in the same field. Yes, I'm positive I will be doing something creative. I'm not sure if I will continue doing animation for much longer though. It's very tiring and demanding which keeps me from being able to do my own creative projects. My personal work has always been extremelly important for me so I would like to find a way to keep on doing some of that.

Who have been some of your favorite clients to work with thus far?
I have to say that I feel very fortunate about the clients I have had not just as Hungryfordesign (www.hungryfordesign.com) but also at Nakd. Most of them have been quite open to what we propose to them. The largest job we've ever had has been the creation of a network ID package for the FIne Living Network. It was basically our first job in 2003 ( link ) and they came back to us this year ( link ) with the same task. Besides Fine Living, we have had some interesting experiences with MTV and CMT (Country Music Television). Probably one of the most excitting jobs we've had was doing Network ID's for The Anime Network, we had wuite a lot of creative freedom while working on those.

We get a lot of cool stuff in the mail here at Crown Dozen (and please keep it coming yall), and I was wondering what kind of swag a man of your influence gets in his mailbox. What are some of the best things you've gotten?
Honestly, not much. I've been moving around so much that I never get to receive many things from friends. But a few months ago, I got this large photograph ( link ) and this collage ( link ) from my friend Recife from Misprintedtype (www.misprintedtype.com). That was really excitting.


How do you go about creating a video piece for those of us who don't work in that field?
Well, it really varies. At Nakd when a project comes in, it's usually pretty bare so we have to develop concepts and also work on a few style frames that define the overall look of the piece. Sometimes that is enough to start animating with. Otherwise, and specially if there is a shoot involved, we create a detailed storyboard. (like the 3FM storyboard that I have attached). We have a pretty small team of animators so everyone here does a bit of everything. At some point I usually step out of the process to start working on another project that may have come in while still creative directing the first one. Many late nights and busy weekends later we have a finished piece.

With a style as free as yours, it's hard to tell whether your work is well-planned, completely free-styled, or right in the middle. How much do you plan before beginning?
Again, that changes from project to project. A project like the "Trikala" for example ( link ) , there was a lot of planning. A full brief was written before the company I was working for at the time approved the internal project. I find it really helpfull to write and specially to discuss ideas with other Designers. The project becomes much richer.

It's when you create something just on your own that you end up wishing you had shared your ideas earlier because so many good ideas are left unexplored. Other projects like "Tubes" ( link ) are a lot more spontaneous. For this one I created a very long image that was intended to be a poster, and then just animated it based on music. I'm definitely in favor of projects actually meaning something, whether it's for the artist or the viewer's enjoyment. But sometimes, to feel in control of the tool and the language of animation, a designer needs to practice. Most of these partially unplanned experiments turn out great and usually are the ones that generate more excitement from others.

How was it making the "My Red Hot Car" video for Squarepusher? Were you a fan beforehand, or was it just work?
I was definitely a fan. That animation ( link ) is actually an unfinished submition for a competition that Warp Records put together in 2001. At the time I had just moved to Atlanta and started working at a new place so I was pretty busy and I unfortnately found out about the project way too late so I didn't have time to finish. It was a lot of fun to work with their music though.

Who else are you into these days when it comes to art, music, and the like?
I fell in love with the art of Beatriz Milhazes. She is a brazilian painter that has become really famous over the last years. I'm currently interviewing her for the launch of the Brasil Inspired website. As far as music, I've been listening to this new band a lot, called Elastic. Also album "Condensed" by Lusine Icl and the new Funkst rung album "Disconnected" are really addictive.

This year is a big year in US politics, and we in the States are bracing for some serious insanity. Would you mind giving some outside perspective on our current political climate? And please, pull no punches.
I have to say that I have been trying not to think much about it. If you play the game and pay as much attention to the news as the media in the US as they want us to, your opinions can get a bit twisted. I have never been very connected to politics and honestly never cared, but once the bigger decisions start to influence your private life, you start to have more opnion about subjects like this. Just like basically every american that I have spoken to about this subject, I also hope that the current president leaves.

So, anything else you've got going on or coming up soon that we should know about or you're excited about?

Linn and I will very likely distance ourselves gradually from Nakd over the next few months to get a few things done. We have been wanting to visit Bras lia (the capital of Brazil) as well as S o Paulo which I don't know very well and she's never been to. We're planing to paint a lot more and once again do a lot of personal work. We will be re-launching Linn's site and lauching Brasil Inspired and Lard and Joy which will be our online store for the posters and shirts we are currently printing.

I think that one of my most ambitious projects is finally seeing the some light at the end of the tunnel. Hungryfordesign is going to expand and take the original shape that was intented for itself from the beggining. I will explain more soon on my site.

    » View the portfolio of Nando Costa at Hungryfordesign.com.

    » Visit Nakd.tv to view more of his motion work..

Comments

what can I say, just got to met him and became his huge fan!

Posted by: camilla at December 6, 2004 7:12 PM

hello !


I´m art director from brazil and would like show to you my work.

www.groba51.com

Forgive my terrible english

thank you

Posted by: Airton Groba at January 14, 2007 4:41 AM
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