Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Itamar Ferrer

Itamar Ferrer is a designer in the broadest sense, her practice stretches far and wide, you name it she’s done it. Winner of the NEU NOW design brief for ELIA, her innovative logo was highly praised by the judges. Itamar talks to jotta about adapting to the challenges of London and the value of perserverence.
A firm believer in the future and its possibilities, Itamar has grabbed every opportunity and produced some mind-blowing work, from drawing voices with light to tackling the future of education through interaction and collaboration.

Your website states that you are ‘working, living and enjoying London,’ coming from Venezuela what is it about London that you like?
Coming to London from Venezuela was a big leap; I mean literally you have to cross an ocean! And despite missing terribly the beautiful warm Venezuelan weather (and by now I know that I will never get over that!) I enjoy London’s diversity... in every sense. The fact that you can live here for years and there will always be something to discover, is fantastic. Just walking down the street and seeing creativity expressed in so many shapes and forms makes me smile and reassures me that I can just be me, and do what I enjoy here. And despite what the general opinion may be regarding the current situation, I still think there are many opportunities in this city. One just has to be creative…and persevere.

You recently won a competition to design a logo for the ELIA, how did you come up with the concept?
Winning the competition for ELIA was a wonderful surprise. One aspect of the brief was to take into account that the logo had to somehow represent something ‘truly European’. As you can imagine, not an easy task for a Latin American! So besides looking into European references, I did two main things: ask all my European friends what being European meant to them and I armed myself with a camera, walking around London taking pictures of things and situations that I thought were, or looked European in my eyes.
It was a difficult one. The concept came out quite mixed and fresh. I’m happy with it.

What are you working on at the moment?
At the moment I freelance regularly for Design Against Crime at Central Saint Martins Innovation Centre and Textile Futures Research Group, developing their communication design and strategies, assisting in project management and administration.
I’m also developing a social design project with Universidad del Zulia in Venezuela (where I did my BA) and continue to participate in different competitions. I'm keen on exploring and applying my visual communication skills to other design areas, collaborate, continue learning and gather other experiences. To be honest, I'm happiest when I get to stick my fingers in different pies.

In the past you have set up a design studio, how did you find that process?
It was immensely gratifying, beautifully difficult, endlessly challenging, character strengthening, self-reliant, terrifying, liberating, restrictive and attractively independent. It has been one of the biggest learning curves I have had professionally, and personally. It taught me many lessons about myself, how to be strangely bold and confident, develop my design skills, handle a business, speak to clients, manage budgets and overall how to communicate with people. Definitely one of the best experiences I have ever had and one of the reasons I am now in London.

I will definitely do it again…….someday.

You were a recipient of the Program Alban Scholarship in 2007, which enabled you to undertake postgraduate study at Central Saint Martins, how beneficial did you find this?
Coming to Central Saint Martins in London and doing my MA was an amazing experience. It has definitely influenced my way of thinking and literally changed my life. I know, I know, it sounds like a cliché but take into account that I am thousands of miles away from my home country. I really do have to thank Program Alban’s scholarship and their generosity, as well as my family for supporting me in this choice. They were both key in enabling me to come to London. I am certain that without the Alban scholarship I would not been able to study at such a prestigious institution as CSM. It has been beneficial from every angle you can view it: I developed my design and conceptual skills, have been re-introduced to the world of design, met people from all around the world, made friends, I'm developing more work and have had the opportunity to do a bit of traveling… what more can I say?

You had a really interesting and varied career, what drives you?
I sometimes ask myself that same question: “And why am I doing this exactly?” and I do ask myself a lot of questions...
But truthfully I enjoy beginnings, the excitement of starting new things, responding to different situations, researching into varied subjects and disciplines and specially working with other people. I think that’s one of the things I enjoy the most about being a designer: you’re always changing what you are working on. You start something, see it develop through, finish it, hand it over, move on to the next thing and start all over again. I'm of a restless character and I'm always up for a challenge so if I had to do the same thing everyday in the same way, I would be terribly bored and frustrated.

Do you have any words of wisdom for recent graduates?

Persevere, persevere, persevere and one more thing, persevere! Have fun. Fail and learn. Enjoy what you do and do it with heart, as there are always opportunities out there. Just be ready to go when they come!

For more of Itamar's work click here

By Stephanie Grace

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