Josh Spear Interviews Our Own Federico Slivka

Designing a decent website is tough, particularly if, like TreeHugger, you need to include advertising. How do you make a clean, effective site among the clutter of the dancing lumps of coal and kids licking the walls? How do you keep the readers, the advertisers and the talent contributors happy with a site that is legible, user friendly and attractive? Federico Slivka has come pretty close on all counts with TreeHugger, and has impressed a lot of people, including design blogger Josh Spear, who interviewed him recently. Josh says

"Federico Slivka Lederer is well-traveled and well-worded. He is a graphic designer (with whom you may be acquainted with, particularly if you've been to a little site called TreeHugger), an art director, and an interaction designer. He is also an amazing photographer — a skill he won't mention himself, but one that is easily discernable after glancing over only a few of his penetrating snapshots. However, after talking with Federico about all the things that he so decidedly is, one of his occupations seems to fit the young Barcelona resident more than any other: Federico Slivka Lederer is a teacher."

Favourite questions from Josh:

JS: You've worked from many different countries. Has the design (production, etc.) experience varied much from place to place? And if so, in which ways?

FS: Nowadays, all the cities with a significant design production share the same technology and the same tools. In general, everything's very similar.
According to my perception, what is different is the importance that design has for society and for the market.

In Latin America, things are less defined, there's less control and everything's wilder; the strongest wins, there is more room for improvisation. Everything, who knows why, tends towards chaos. On the other hand, in Europe everything's clearer and better organized. People have more time, money and resources to develop complex and long-term projects. There is a tendency towards stability. In the United States, time and money rule (as in Latin America and Europe), but it doesn't matter how and when you do your project: as far as you reach your goal, everyone's happy. In this case, everything tends to speed.

JS: You've got quite a diverse skill set — do you prefer to work on any one type of project, or do you like it all?

FS: What I like to do is to design. This could be the slogan of a design school, couldn't it? Rather than being a graphic designer, I like to see myself as a "graphic conveyor," as a "visual communicator". As in any other discipline, the tools, channels and your own preparation to handle them will determine the result and the efficiency of the solution. I got to understand this just when I graduated from University, as I saw that job offers often required knowledge of tons of different software. So, a little bit because I was in need of a work, and another little bit because I found it easy to learn new programs, the list of software in which I could be proficient with grew fast. Nevertheless, I think that being able to handle tools efficiently is important, but not essential. To hammer in, of course the best tool to use is a hammer, but you can also do it with a stone, isn't that true?

I find tools less and less important, and the same is true for channels. It is not that they don't matter, of course you need to pay attention to them, but if you look carefully, the essential is somewhere else.

When one handles tools and channels well, it is easier to enjoy the process. That is why I find equally enjoyable to design on a sheet of paper and online, even if they're quite different.

It is like learning to drive: once you've learned how to change gear, you can start to enjoy driving across the way. ::Josh Spear

Tags: Barcelona | Designers