Interview with José Miguel Cardoso

Winner of Graphic Design Awards

Award Winning Designer José Miguel Cardoso shares insights


Interview with José Miguel Cardoso at Monday 22nd of October 2018:

DL: Could you please tell us a bit about your design background and education?
JC : I have a degree in Design from the University of Aveiro 2005. I have an MA in Design from the University of Barcelona in 2008 and an MA in Design and Printing Techniques from the University of Porto 2013. At the moment I am a PhD candidate in Design, At University of Aveiro.

DL: What motivates you to design in general, why did you become a designer?
JC : I think I always remember liking to draw, even since I was a kid. In a way I've always known that I wanted to study fine arts or something related. My mother says I used to draw on the bed sheets. Design came later. Only during my adolescence I discovered what design was. It was only a matter of adapting the drawing practice that I already had, to a more projectual activity.

DL: Did you choose to become a designer, or you were forced to become one?
JC : I chose to be a designer, because I discovered that I liked to relate aesthetic issues of image creation, with the pertinence of the objects.

DL: What do you design, what type of designs do you wish to design more of?
JC : I like to design everything that is related with landscape depiction, like maps and city guides.

DL: What should young designers do to become a design legend like you?
JC : I am not a legend. What i can say to young designers is that to become good at something, first we must like doing that thing. Pleasure is always connected with quality.

DL: What distinguishes between a good designer and a great designer?
JC : If the designers use the metaphor to give a second sense to the objects. Perhaps the great designers can give a third sense. A layer of thought, yet to be thought.

DL: What makes a good design a really good design, how do you evaluate good design?
JC : In addition to the well-known 10 commandments of good design, it seems to me that more and more we feel a need to feel special empathy for objects. This emotional side has become essential and all domains of design. In an increasingly digital and less material world, drawing has a special ability to create empathy.

DL: What is the value of good design? Why should everyone invest in good design?
JC : Because good design is not just about selling more products, is also about contributing for a better life with those products. Above all, the design is for people.

DL: What would you design and who would you design for if you had the time?
JC : I would like to make city maps, for all the city halls across the world.

DL: What is the dream project you haven’t yet had time to realize?
JC : I would love to draw the landscape along the Great Wall of China

DL: What is your secret recipe of success in design, what is your secret ingredient?
JC : My secret is about creating special empathy through the sense of touch of observational hand-drawing.

DL: Who are some other design masters and legends you get inspired from?
JC : I like a lot of drawing masters from the past. I really appreciate the work of Chris Ware. His work with graphic novels reflects his design background.

DL: What are your favorite designs by other designers, why do you like them?
JC : As I was saying in the previous issue, I like many of Chris Ware's graphic novels, the way he manages to mix different graphic languages and the way he uses typography and lettering. The format of the books, the irony of the stories are also amazing.

DL: What is your greatest design, which aspects of that design makes you think it is great?
JC : My favorite work so far was the Catavino's Port Lodge Map. It was a map of the Port wine lodges in Vila Nova de Gaia. It was the first professional work in which I was able to put into practice a mixture between the cartographic code and the landscape observation drawing. This topic about observational drawing is very important for me. It is one of the best ways to differentiate a designer's work, from all other forms of landscape representation, supported by the immediacy and quantity of mobile platforms, such as mobile photographs.

DL: How could people improve themselves to be better designers, what did you do?
JC : I think that improving our design activity is like philosophy. We should keep questioning: what are we doing? This way our design will always have meaning.

DL: If you hadn’t become a designer, what would you have done?
JC : I think i would be a landscape artist.

DL: How do you define design, what is design for you?
JC : I believe that design is the manifestation of a desire, through drawing.

DL: Who helped you to reach these heights, who was your biggest supporter?
JC : I prefer to generalize. My best supports were my teachers and my co-workers. I think I've been lucky enough to learn something from everyone I've worked with.

DL: What helped you to become a great designer?
JC : I think to be good at doing something, you have to do something that you like very much.

DL: What were the obstacles you faced before becoming a design master?
JC : Never give up on a drawing. All problems have the potential to become obstacles that call for withdrawal. But without problems, if there is no design either.

DL: How do you think designers should present their work?
JC : The best way to present a design work is to show it as close to the end product as possible. Not only is it easier to convince, but frustrations are avoided in the end.

DL: What’s your next design project, what should we expect from you in future?
JC : I want to continue to produce maps and landscape views of the city of Porto. That's the territory of my Design research.

DL: What’s your ultimate goal as a designer?
JC : My goal is to live well.

DL: What people expect from an esteemed designer such as yourself?
JC : I will continue to draw, with or without utility.

DL: How does design help create a better society?
JC : Just as the design exercise goes by wishing and anticipating a more advanced state in the objects. These objects can also be a source of reflection for the people who use them.

DL: What are you currently working on that you are especially excited about?
JC : I am currently developing an infographic, that tells the whole process of producing port wine, from the grape to the glass. It is a project that has a strong component of drawing and illustration that excites me.

DL: Which design projects gave you the most satisfaction, why?
JC : The design projects that satisfy me the most are those that consume observation design with computational graphic production. The Catavino´s Port Lodge map is a good example. In this map, we again have a direct relationship between the landscape drawing and the cartographic code.

DL: What would you like to see changed in design industry in the coming years?
JC : Lately, news has been published about the importance of crafting in the future of he production of objects. Perhaps this is a way of counteracting the continuous dematerialization of objects, with the passage to the digital world, which seems to make design ever more invisible. I would like the design to become more visible.

DL: Where do you think the design field is headed next?
JC : There are a few emerging areas in design. The one that has caused me the greatest curiosity has been Food Design. Also because I'm in love with good food and good wines.

DL: How long does it take you to finalize a design project?
JC : I would say that a month will be the ideal time. But many objects continue to be developed, updated and improved throughout the year, already in production. Particularly when it comes to industrial design.

DL: When you have a new design project, where do you start?
JC : I think a design should always put itself in the design user's shoes. This is the best way to understand a project's relevance.

DL: What is your life motto as a designer?
JC : Nothing too special. Just try to always be honest with my work.

DL: Do you think design sets the trends or trends set the designs?
JC : I think that most of times, design follows trends. But there are also some designs that do not follow the trends and are not outdated when the trends change.

DL: What is the role of technology when you design?
JC : Technology has a low importance during the conception fase, and gets fundamental during the production fase.

DL: What kind of design software and equipment do you use in your work?
JC : My favourite tools are Bib Ballpoint pen and paper. And the softwares are Adobe Illustrator and Indesign.

DL: What is the role of the color, materials and ambient in design?
JC : All those elements are related with our product experience. Color can have very different roles in design, like seducing or preventing an error. Materials are more related with confort when they stimulate the sense of touch. For exaple cold and hot materials are direclty related with parts were to to touch or not to touch. Controlling environments can help make the identity of a compagny, more recognizable.

DL: What do you wish people to ask about your design?
JC : I like when people ask “why to draw outside?”.

DL: When you see a new great design or product what comes into your mind?
JC : I think there is a reflexive level of judgment that is activated when we use a great design. It is more than fulfilling a function, it also involves understanding or questioning the meaning of what we are doing. Great examples of design have that capability.

DL: Who is your ideal design partner? Do you believe in co-design?
JC : I dont see co-working necessarily with other designers. The best team mates are complementary, so many times the best co-workers are form other areas, like engeneering.

DL: Which people you interacted had the most influence on your design?
JC : The influences turn out to be quite diverse. I had some teachers who scored a lot, but the co-workers and bosses of the places I went through also had a very important influence on my training as a designer.

DL: Which books you read had the most effect on your design?
JC : I recently re-read Treasure Island, which was the first printed book to bring an impression of a map. I find it remarkable how important that illustration is in all the action of the book. I think I'm more influenced by the novel literary genre than by actual picture books.

DL: How did you develop your skills as a master designer?
JC : I have an MA in Drawing, but more than the academic title, is about drawing a lot of hours.

DL: Irrelative of time and space, who you would want to meet, talk and discuss with?
JC : Leonardo da Vinci, definitly. Even today his works, specialy his drawings are a great source of knowledge.

DL: How do you feel about all the awards and recognition you had, is it hard to be famous?
JC : I am not famous.

DL: What is your favorite color, place, food, season, thing and brand?
JC : My favourite color ir blue, wich o think is the common favourite color in Portugal. My favourite place is the beach, during summer, eating fish. I like adidas sneakers.

DL: Please tell us a little memoir, a funny thing you had experienced as a designer?
JC : I draw recurrently in the public space, for example in places very frequented by tourists. What I find funny is that from a certain point I become a tourist attraction. Sometimes I do not know if the praise they give me is not motivated by the holiday enthusiasm.

DL: What makes your day great as a designer, how do you motivate yourself?
JC : What makes a great day is a diversity of moments. I laki to have coffe in the morning by the sea. Then i like to draw outside during several hours, and. Finish the day, working some hours in front of the computer. At night i like to drink a beer with friends. This is the perfect day.

DL: When you were a little child, was it obvious that you would become a great designer?
JC : The only thing my parents tell me it was obvious, it is that i have always loved to draw.

DL: What do you think about future; what do you see will happen in thousand years from now?
JC : I think we are witnessing a total dematerialization of the objects that surround us, with an increasing predominance of the digital world. Sometimes I wonder if the hand that draws is not be anachronistic today? Perhaps in the future this technological ubiquity will become part of our own body. Or the body itself, become anachronistic and outdated.