Renato Pequito: Graphic Designer
Portuguese born graphic designer Renato Pequito began his career with a degree in engineering. Quickly realising his passions laid elsewhere, Renato began a design course. In 2005 he moved to the Welsh capital of Cardiff and in 2008 graduated with a First Class Honours in Design for Media from the University of Glamorgan. After four months of perseverance Renato was given an opportunity to work with Cardiff based design and digital communications agency limegreentangerine as a junior interactive designer. We caught up with him this month to find out about his journey so far.
Notes on Design: When did you first realise you wanted to be a part of the creative industry?
Renato: I was in Portugal studying an engineering course, and decided I wanted to do something completely different. One of the pressures during my time in Portugal had always been to do something safe, such as engineering, something that would guarantee getting a job. I tried three different universities and none really compelled me enough to do it. At the very same time I started getting involved with graffiti and street art and it was something that I just really enjoyed doing, so I ventured on to a design course to follow my passions and to get my foot into the creative industry.
Notes on Design: What is it about design that gets you excited?
Renato: Just about everything. The fact that design surrounds you and you can’t really escape it excites me. One of my University tutors gave a wonderful speech (best thing about the course really) about how he spends hours in supermarkets looking at packaging labels and the signage. I do that all the time, in fact I think I have always done it without really realising what design was.
Notes on Design: Did you feel prepared as you began the transition from graduate to professional?
Renato: No, not really. In my experience, and from what I’ve gathered from fellow designers, most design schools are overrated. I found myself stuck in the same place after the first year, which in itself isn’t completely a bad thing as it allowed me to develop as a designer, without having to ask anyone else for direction. Still, it isn’t a good enough excuse for losing two whole years in education. I think universities in Wales should have a major rethink and be more proactive with their teaching ethos. Year after year the assignments were the same — students could even copy them from senior students. That is a major issue when graduating, as it gives a very faint idea of what we need to know and what skills we need to have in order to break into that first job.
Notes on Design: Could you tell us about your journey after graduating?
Renato: As I said before I was really lucky on my journey, four months after graduating I found my first job. It took a me a while to get to grips with doing my portfolio and to start sending CV’s to potential employers. I think the main reason was due to the lack of guidance or industry knowledge that just got me doubting if I could really make a difference. Then I kind of chucked that feeling away and started phoning all the different companies around Cardiff that I wanted to work for, I didn’t call just anyone, but the ones I really liked what they were doing and wanted to work with. I got myself involved on the design scene around Cardiff too, by going to the Cardiff Design festival awards and network.
After getting an interview at See What You Mean for some freelance work, I landed my first real interview at limegreentangerine. I want to say that I felt nervous at that interview but I didn’t, I was more curious to see their work, excited to meet the designers and I just went without fears. It paid off. I got a phone call and got hired.
Notes on Design: How do you facilitate development of your understanding and awareness of your practice?
Renato: I guess I just stay connected, I use social media, traditional media and design blogs to be up to speed with the industry. Sometimes it isn’t enough of course, there are so many things going on at the same time, but it usually provides inspiration throughout the day and keeps me connected to other creatives. I would advise other designers and graduates to not only connect and seek inspiration from design, but from all creative fields and experiences, be it photography, cinema, theatre, reading or traveling.
Notes on Design: What’s next for you?
Renato: Well earlier in the year I decided to attempt a daily design project and I am fast approaching the end of the challenge. You can view my progress on my tumblr and the project gallery on flickr. After so much time just working and doing nothing for myself, I decided to leap into a project that would force me to design something every day.
I approached the project as a way of creating my very own visual diary, and hopefully it will help lead to freelance work in the future. The fact that I tried to apply some of my design and illustrative work to projects initiated by other illustrators made me work more into it and from the work I got the chance to exhibit at a cool local coffee shop last November. That exhibition propelled me to start printing and selling my own stuff too, so I set-up shops on BigCartel and Etsy, both of which are keeping me busy.
Notes on Design: Based on your experiences do you have any advice for this years graduates?
Renato: Don’t wait for anyone to help you out, move! If you work hard you will get there, the trick is having patience, persistence and never forgetting your ultimate goal. Love what you do. I can’t help but think these are clichés but they are very true — without putting effort into something you won’t get very far. One of the things I would strongly suggest is to put your work out there; whether it is a portfolio website, Behance profile or Flickr gallery. Whatever you can find to illustrate what it is you do and love, do it. The internet allow for so much, so why not take the plunge? I was slow at getting my own website up, but since I have done it the feedback has been great and I know people can always find me and my work easily.