• Can you tell us about how all this started ?
It was a long time ago now, but, I’ll try to remember ;-)
After I finished school in London I went straight to working for various record labels, designing sleeves and event visuals mostly. I started working for my eventual business partner, Alain and his record label Vinyl Solutions, and after some time we decided to start a studio together in his building on Portobello Road. I was just beginning to do more illustrative work at this time and it felt like the right moment to try something.
• Why did you choose to run an independent studio? and a Spanish name :)?
I always had the desire to start a studio, but meeting Alain meant he had the business knowledge to enable me to focus on the creative side. It’s that combination of skills that’s usually difficult for studios starting up I think. The name of the studio was never up for discussion, it made sense right from the start. We liked the idea of a design company being named the Mouth, a very pure form of human communication.
• You seem to be super influenced by music, how does it come to images/illustrations?
I initially got interested in design through Hip Hop and Graffiti. In my teens (during the 80s!) I used to buy Hip Hop as vinyl imports from the US as it could take months for them to get an official UK release. The records became like treasured objects for me (probably because they cost a lot of money for a kid living on an estate in London!). I would study every detail of the sleeves, and it was really that which triggered my interest in wanting to do graphic design. Since then it’s what I always wanted to do, so music and design became an inseparable part of my life.
• How do you usually start an illustration, and what is your process?
We usually only work on illustrations for clients, it’s not personal work. So there is always a problem to solve of how best to connect with people and communicate what the client is trying to say. That is true whether the client is a musician, an author or a corporate brand. I always see our role as being the link between them and their audience.
• You designed, T-shirts, posters, covers, books etc. What was the craziest thing you designed?
In the early years of the studio we did a few packaging projects for the sex toy market. We used to be quite perplexed by some of the products, but we were professional and it was kinda fun. I’d quite like to revisit that world at some point.
• What is your best project so far, the most exciting or the most memorable for you?
I never believe the best project has happened, so I’m still waiting for that. I nearly always think something could have been done better (much to the annoyance of the other guys in the studio!). We had a long relationship with the record label DC Recordings, and we designed almost all of their sleeves over a period of 9 years or so. When working with someone over such a long time it really gives you a special connection and we created a lot of laughter and tears together over the years, the essential ingredients for graphic design.
• While most agencies claim the “fully-digital” is the way to go, you mainly focus on print. What ’s your point of view on this?
Yes, we are the complete opposite of the usual ‘multi-disciplinary’ design studio ;-) I know what we can do well, so that’s what we focus on. Most of our imagery is created digitally now, but I really love printed matter and I like to create quite tactile work. But, that doesn’t mean I’m not interested in technology or the idea of moving in new directions. Like everyone else, I’m becoming more and and more curious by AR and VR, and the possibilities they may hold for our work.
• Design studios open everyday, lots of them probably close down in the following years.
You have been here since 2002, what is your recipe for longevity ?
We always stayed small even though there were opportunities to grow bigger over the years. I always hated the idea of taking on work I didn’t enjoy just to pay the bills - that’s not why I started a studio. I’ve always done it for the love, it’s never been a career (really). Unfortunately the flip side of this attitude is that you don’t make lots of money so it’s not really very smart. We try to mostly produce work that we like ourselves, we don’t follow trends or try to keep up with other studios. I never wanted to be fashionable.
• What kind of projects are you most interested in? and who would you like to work with (as a client).
I would love to do a record cover for Katy Perry. I say it in every interview but she still hasn’t got in touch for some reason.
• What should we wish you for the future?
A publisher for a La Boca book please. I think it’s about time we captured some of this silly stuff in print ;-)