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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Thoughtfully Energized, An Interview with Adam R Garcia


Re-blogged from WeMake

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Please join us for a night of inspiration and a look into the sketchbooks of Adam Garcia of The Pressure. His client work includes, NIKE, Target, Nickelodeon, Fast Company, Studio on Fire, Good Magazine and much more.
DATE OF THE EVENT: Friday, April 5th
TIME: 6:00-9:00pm
PLACE: The Left Bank Project, 240 N Broadway
Check-in begins at 6:00pm. Doors close at 6:45
COST: FREE, however a $5 donation is appreciated
REGISTRATION BEGINS: Friday morning at 9am, March 29th
As always space is limited, so be sure to register early!


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I got to the building he told me to go to, but then realized he didn't give me a studio number, and he wasn't listed on the directory. Made me think he was under cover or something. So I called him and in a moment he rounded the corner with a huge smile, very warm and approachable as always. Nestled in the basement under Barista in The Pearl is B1, the collective studio of Adam Garcia of The Pressure and a few other Portland creatives. The place used to be rented to some hip hop dancers, complete with a bar and dance floor. I loved the name, B1. Yes technically it's the name of the storage unit, but cleverly it's also the studio name, and a perfect metaphor for Adam's philosophies.
We got right to the interview and throughout our time together it was clear that Adam was someone who thinks things thru, jumps right in, and absorbs everything around him. His warm smile is genuine, and he has a magnetic kind of energy that makes you want to get to know him…and so I did.

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YPEYou do a lot of collaboration work, how many of those projects are real work or have gotten you real work?

ARG
I don't know, to me it's all real work whether you get payed or not, it's all from the same pool. Overall it's hard to quantify what works turns into other work. It's the work, and hopefully the work is good and that's the bottom line. The thing that makes me want to work with you, is your energy. You've got to be easy to work with, and professional. The easy to work with part comes from collaboration, and putting the ego aside to make something great and smart.

I recently finished the project The Good Stuff,  a promotional piece for Premier Press.  I designed the system and the identity, and art directed 12 different artists to create pieces that showcased Premier's processes and papers.  I had to be tactile with who worked on it.  I pulled people with the same mentality about collaboration as I have.  Even though most of the work was by other people, it was about having vision and the energy to bring those people together.  It all comes down to energy—being open to the world and people.

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YPE
Tell me about your old graffiti days, did you use to do graffiti?

ARG
Yes, in the late 90's—the whole hip-hop universe.  I was a rapper and a promoter, and used to throw a lot of events.  I was a breakdancer as well, my life was dancing. That's all energy too. 

YPEYou got to get up to get down.

ARG
Agreed. It's all performance and exuding energy and that translated directly into design.

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YPE
I have a soft heart for graffiti, it's expression, how its evolved as a movement and art form. It influenced me to become a designer.

ARG
For me, in the design world I want to be involved in, the aesthetic of graffiti is not relevant, or would I like to introduce it to my work. I have evolved but the energy is still the same. I think what I learned from it was being part of the culture and community, it's really aggressive and hard—people are incredibly critical. There's always people starting.  Those that are good, are good for certain reasons. It's the consistent quality of work, pushing boundaries, and being good to people. There is something to the community and the hard critical culture of it that has translated to everything else I do. I don't do it anymore, but I've learned from it.
In 1999 Steve Powers wrote the book, The Art of Getting Over.  At that time there was this idea of getting up in graffiti—putting your name in so many places. He talked about the idea of getting over, and being original—pushing boundaries and doing things other people weren't doing while being present all the time. I still think about that. 

YPE
It's the same rules for design.

ARG
Yeah, it's not about getting over yourself—the idea is if you choose to play the game, in the community and the culture, there are certain kinds of rules.  It's like branding—What's your USP as a human being in this community, what's your story, how are you distinctive? There are a thousands of freelance designers out there, how do you set yourself apart and still be true to yourself and your clients. It's like getting over. It's a balance.

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YPE
So you read a lot?

ARG
Yeah I read a lot. I read a lot of different kinds things. Right now I'm reading,  How Music Works, by David Byrne.  I'm also reading Blaise Pascal, Human Happiness. It's from the 17th century, it's all  about happiness and brutally true things about being a human. I also read a lot of magazines.
Have you read,  A Brief History of Thought, by Luc Ferry? It's about the history of philosophy. He talks about the fear and says there are two ways people overcome fear in their life on a broad scale. The big fear is mortality, the other is the fear of leaving a legacy. 

YPE
Do you believe in leaving a legacy?

ARG
Yeah maybe, it comes back to energy, sort of.  I think a legacy doesn't need to be an object, but energy and stories. It can also be children, thoughts or one kind act.

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YPE
I love talking to you about life stuff and perspectives, they are so relevant to who we are as designers, and what influences us. What has influenced you as a designer.

ARG
I love studio's that are multi-disciplinary. A lot of people might say you need to be specific, you can't be a generalist in what you do. That just bores the shit out of me. I don't think I could do it. When someone gets to your site and see's a wide variety of work, and then you can talk about it and position it in ways that is palatable to them, they'll understand you. I do a wide variety of work, because I have a wide variety of experience. 

YPE
What's the majority of your work? Mostly illustration, graphic design? What do people call you for?

ARG
Different relationships call for me for different things. At Nike, I've done some illustrations—T-shirt stuff, hand lettering and visual identity branding. For Target I've done illustration and art direction for motion design. The work I do for the agencies in Philly and New York is a mixture of type design, logos, and high level brand concepting. Then there's local work for people and small businesses and my super fun personal projects and collaborations.

YPE
So your busy, busy with work but still maintaining your personal projects?

ARG
Yeah, that's why I'm doing this, so I can create the work I want to create. Every single project I love.  I don't want to take on projects that I don't want to work on ever.

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Please join us for a night of inspiration and a look into the sketchbooks of Adam Garcia of The Pressure. His client work includes, NIKE, Target, Nickelodeon, Fast Company, Studio on Fire, Good Magazine and much more.
DATE OF THE EVENT: Friday, April 5th
TIME: 6:00-9:00pm
PLACE: The Left Bank Project, 240 N Broadway
Check-in begins at 6:00pm. Doors close at 6:45
COST: FREE, however a $5 donation is appreciated
REGISTRATION BEGINS: Friday morning at 9am, March 29th

As always space is limited, so be sure to register early!

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