If a picture is worth a thousand words, a picture in motion is worth an entire experience. This is roughly what Alvaro Parra, a Spanish motion designer, had in mind when he decided to pivot his career toward visual design.
Parra is based in Atlanta, USA and is currently working at Fern. His education revolved around product design. But Alvaro soon discovered that his true calling and passion lie within the realm of visual design. More precisely – motion graphics coupled with sound design. That’s how his main project and personal brand Aparra.me was born.
His main driving force in terms of creativity is simply, simplicity.
Alvaro combines storytelling and simple ideas with the versatility of motion graphics and sound design to express ideas and concepts. And the concepts? As per Alvaro, the majority of his personal work is influenced by social behaviors and philosophy. He deploys these notions as communicative tools that can change society for the better. Some of his pieces aim to challenge and tackle social problems such as mental health stigma, social isolation, and personal motivation.
We had the pleasure to interview Alvaro Parra about his work, creative process, main driving forces, and career development. He also shared advice for young and aspiring motion graphics artists who chose to pursue a career in visual design.
Here’s what Parra had to say.
Seeking Creative Liberty In Visual Design
All artists have one thing in common – they need inspiration. Motivation and inspiration are almost always interlaced. Hardly ever can a creative work succeed unless both of these concepts are present, at least to some degree.
This is why the very first thing that we asked Alvaro was to tell us a bit about himself. What drives him, what inspires him, and what makes him want to contribute to this changing world.
“Hola! My name is Alvaro, and I work as a motion designer in Atlanta, USA. Prior to working in motion graphics, I was a design engineer. I worked in that industry for a while. However, I felt constrained by all the technical limitations in the field. I wanted to have more creative liberty in my job. I explored other mediums such as sound and image and was instantly interested in motion graphics and sound design.”
What made him seek creative liberty in visual design? It’s breaking the shackles of still illustrations and achieving the much-needed versatility within the realm of motion pictures.
“I feel that visual communication can be extremely powerful. It can be used to motivate, teach, inspire, and entertain. This versatility is what got my attention in the field.“
Practice Makes Perfect
One of the main obstacles for most people, especially artists, is the fear of failure. Alvaro, however, knows how precious failures and mistakes can be. They’re the main building blocks of our future selves. By erasing them, we’re likely to erase who we are or who we may become.
We asked Alvaro what he would do differently if he pressed restart on his visual design career and started out again.
“I probably wouldn’t have done anything differently. In order to learn, you always need to fail and make mistakes. It is part of the learning process. Even having a background in a completely different area is useful. This gives you a new perspective and makes your vision more unique.”
Adapting To The New Lay Of The Land
During 2020, we’ve all witnessed that the landscape of many industries can change overnight. Some industries suffered major blows, while others managed to survive through a sheer process of adaptation. Certain niches even thrived during this pandemic.
In this section, Parra talks about market changes brought about by COVID-19.
“I think what happened caught everyone by surprise. The pandemic has forced many businesses and industries to adapt super quickly to a new reality.
However, I do think some sectors had a bigger challenge than others. For example, the companies and businesses in the digital communication field struggled less with these new work adjustments. This is mainly because their end product isn’t physical. They can create and publish their work from any part of the world.
Before the pandemic started, work was moving towards a more interconnected reality. However, after last year this process has accelerated even more. Now, working remotely has become completely normal. You can even work from your bed (which I wouldn’t recommend).”
Advice For Those Starting Out In Visual Design
We asked Parra what project or aspect of his visual design career he’s most proud of. Humble as he always is, he emphasized the importance of tackling each project with as much enthusiasm as one can summon.
“I feel that I’m still relatively new in my career. Every project that I have worked on makes me excited and also makes me want to keep looking for new challenges. I am also happy to be working at Fern Studio. It’s exciting to be a part of such a great animation studio.”
The love for the work he does is definitely among the main driving forces for Alvaro. We asked him if he could give advice to anyone who’s starting out in visual design. He said the following:
“This may sound a little cliché. But in order to become good at anything, you first must love what you’re doing and genuinely enjoy the process. You even need to become a little obsessed with it (hopefully not too much). It’s helpful to consume a lot of creative content and analyze it carefully to see how every detail was made. For me, observing and listening has been the most important aspect in the learning process.
Also, the initial steps of any idea are extremely important (concept, storyboard, etc.) and often what we rush the most. We usually want to quickly execute an idea, because we’re more interested in the result. I’m often guilty of this, and I’ve learned that the initial creative process is just as important as the end result.”
The Value Of Having A Personal Website
The importance of having a personal brand and website for acquiring clients is immense. Alvaro states that having your own website is critical for selling a brand.
“A personal website is crucial. It’s like the front cover of a book, it’s what helps you sell your brand. At the end of the day, even if you are a motion graphics artist, you are still a brand. It is important to have a unique logo and cohesive aesthetics. For me, showcasing my website like this has been a helpful tool in securing more job opportunities in my field.”
The ‘I am a designer/writer/etc, not a developer’ mantra is becoming obsolete. We asked Alvaro to share his own experience/hacks/tips for personal website creation. Here’s what he has to say on the topic:
“I’m not a developer, but creating a very simple website today is relatively easy. Nowadays, there are plenty of tools and platforms available for creating a website. You even have tutorials available online, most of them for free!”
Keep Your Website Simple
According to this artist, the most neglected (but important) part of a personal website is:
“Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity. Also, just post the best work you have. I would not recommend posting anything that may conflict with your brand or aesthetics.”
As for the wrapping up of this interview:
“Thanks for giving me the chance to talk here! Hope I was able to help someone starting out! Remember to keep it simple and one step at a time. And before you know it, you can have a cool and engaging website.”
There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy for succeeding in visual design. Or in any other type of creative work, for that matter. We all come from different backgrounds and contexts. Skill and devotion cannot be measured with tangible metrics. Each artist has their own path that he or she paves. However, we can (and should) try to learn from experienced people who can give us actionable tricks of the trade.
Alvaro Parra is definitely one of those people.
According to Alvaro the secret to success within motion graphics is simplicity, persistence, challenges, edifying failure, and building a personal brand. The rest is in the ever-mystical hands of the universe itself. We know one thing, though – we couldn’t be prouder that he has chosen .ME for his online home.