Bringing back the Ascenders competition for its third edition, the Type Directors Club extended jury invitations to members of our community outside of the Advisory Board for the first time.
Based in Mexico, Tipastype have been great supporters of the TDC, and as Sandra García was a judge for our 2021 Type Competition, we thought it only fair that we asked the other half of the studio, Dafne Martínez, to join us.
We sent out a questionnaire out to some of our judges and past Ascenders as a light-hearted Proustian exercise. This interview was lightly edited for clarity.
What was your very first job?
Geometry teacher for undergraduates. ?
First design job?
Graphic designer for pharmaceutical advertising.
Did you go to school for design? If so, where and what was your major/concentration?
Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Graphic design – Editorial design
Are you embarrassed by your old work?
Sometimes, but I always remember that they were all steps to learn and improve.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Dare, practice everyday, and focus.
If you could change one thing about your career trajectory, what would you change?
Maybe I would have started typeface design earlier, but I guess there was a natural and necessary exploration for me before knowing what I wanted to do.
What is a barrier to entry facing today’s designers that you might not have?
I have noticed that it is often difficult for them to carry out manual activities, such as sketching, or reaching graphic solutions with traditional techniques. In other words, they often depend too much on technology to carry out their ideas. When I studied, we had a mixed education, and along the way I have continued to learn the technologic advances, but I can always go back to the analog world.
What is something that today’s young designers have that you wish you had?
Today it is relatively easy to access resources and people from all over the world. So information is right there in your hands, you just need a little push to access communities, courses, admirable specialists, etc, to create connections and learn more.
What top 3 traits are you looking for when looking at young designers’ work?
A strong concept; a simple, but strong solution; and an attractive look; in that order.
What are 3 things that you hate seeing in young designers’ work?
“Pretty designs.” I mean pretty but insubstantial designs, wastes in a system, or things that don’t solve problems.
Name one way in which you continue your education.
Online workshops, videos, and reading.
If you could change careers, what would you do?
I have many other interests that perhaps I would have liked to develop professionally, such as philosophy, languages, or creative writing. But ultimately, I love what I do, and I think it’s taken me to some really interesting places and people, so I probably wouldn’t change a thing.
What is your favorite job you’ve ever had?
I think it is the job I have now. Being independent has allowed me to diversify projects and manage my free time. Although it is not always easy, it has been very satisfying.
What is the worst job you’ve ever had?
I was about three years in an small advertising agency. Too much useless overwork, too many lost hours, and I never felt personally satisfied with the projects. Although I learned a lot about workflow, administration, and marketing, as well as meeting some great people, this job was definitely not for me. ?♀️
Which of your peers do you most admire?
There are many names on the list, but my first thought is Martina Flor, she has built an empire on lettering and her work is so full of life and details, I really love it. I can also mention “Amuki” Vanessa Zuñiga, her work on patterns, native Latin American culture elements, and technology is a great mix that has always led to different supports in a wonderful way.
What do you wish you were better at?
Right now, finances and programming ?. And always, social skills, sometimes I’m very shy, it’s something I’ve been dealing with my whole life.
How do you define a successful career?
I believe that success is a term that each one defines and that changes throughout our lives. I think that for me, success lies in doing stimulating and useful projects, being able to make a living from it and having time to enjoy all the other aspects of life. In that sense, a successful career would be one that allows you to do all of the above and grow along the way.
What tools do you need to have a successful career?
I do not know for sure, but I think that constancy has a lot to do with it and social skills help too. Sometimes even a little luck, I guess.
What food must be accessible to you in order to work well?
I need a good breakfast to start the day, a cup coffee is always welcome.
If you could collaborate with anyone (that you haven’t worked with yet) who would it be?
I think I would have loved to work with Adrian Frutiger, of course I can’t, but I guess just having a chat with him would have been a great experience. I love the large number and diversity of projects that he developed and the change of technologies in which he participated.
Any books, films, or albums that have defined or changed the way you think?
Mmm I think maybe The Selfish Gene, by Richard Dawkins. It got me thinking and changed my mind about human nature and social relationships: aggression, the war of the sexes, racism, generational conflict, and altruism. ?
What hobbies keep your sanity intact? Do they inspire your career/practice, or do you compartmentalize to get away from it?
Books, drawing, and calligraphy to inspire me. Television, movies, exercise, and tai chi to disconnect.
How much sleep do you get?
At least 8 hours. With 7 I can do it, with less I’ll be sleepy all day…I’m very bad at staying up late, although I’ve done it many times XD
How necessary do you find “routine”?
I think it is necessary to be able to achieve goals, as well as it is necessary to break routine to take a breath and refresh the mind. I guess it’s about finding a balance.
Would you like to retire?
Maybe at some point I’ll stop working full time, but I guess design is something you keep doing all your life. Once you get used to it, it’s inevitable and joyful to keep designing even small and personal projects, it changes the perspective on how you approach things in everyday life.