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Graphic Design and Synaesthesia – #MemberSpotlight

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In the overload of information and noise that is the digital age, there has never been a stronger push to be yourself and promote your own uniqueness to the world. This is especially true of artists and creatives – everyone has their own style, everyone strives to be different. But we'd have trouble finding someone who does it better than Ginna Mora with her Synaesthesik alter ego.

Ever since writing her thesis at Uni some 12 years ago on multisensory experiences, Ginna fell in love with the idea of blending different mediums and arts to create a kaleidoscopic sensory experience, with graphic and motion design complementing music, live events and gigs. Obviously Covid has put a strain on all that beauty, but Ginna isn't giving up and she is looking forward to the day when the new normal will begin.

For this Member Spotlight, we are learning more about Ginna and her unique approach to art, discovering her style, dreams and personal story as we move along.

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How did you get into the industry?

It was around 12 years ago, during my postgraduate studies in Communication at the UBA (Buenos Aires University), that I got fascinated by the complementarity of the visual and auditive senses. I started investigating deeply about the synaesthesia phenomenon and I wrote my thesis on the topic: “Visual music: the role of the visuals stimulus in the multisensory experience of electronic music performances nowadays”.

After that, I really wanted to apply all the theory in my head. I created my alter ego Synaesthesik with the main idea of being more than just a visual artist, but a translator between music and visuals, making not only static but moving images as well.

I focused my work on the promotion of artists, record labels and event companies, creating any kind of artworks and design for music projects. At the beginning, tasks like making a cover art, a logo or a flyer on a daily basis felt like huge success for me, I remember. It was like starting over being a Graphic Designer (because by that time I already had 10 years of experience), but doing it from another perspective. One that I truly enjoy(ed).

To be living in Buenos Aires (Argentina) was very inspiring and helpful because, as you might know, this is one of the cities with the richest backgrounds in music of all kinds and widest nightlife in Latinamerica. So step by step I got into the Vj (Video jockey) scene and started playing visuals on the screens of famous local clubs, mostly in House and Techno events.

Every time I got a new gig, it was a chance for me to apply what I learnt and try to get everyone to experience the synaesthesia by my visuals. People were able to expect more than only a dynamic and colorful show with fancy visuals made in different techniques (collage, video, 2d Animation and motion graphics); they simply had a great audio visual experience. My intention goes further than just showing a visual speech of beautiful images, these should play in synchro, working together with the music as a whole, and using the silences, the noise, the color tones, for instance, to guide the public into an exciting audio visual experience that will fulfill the senses. To visually translate the music and to reinforce the sensations have always been my main goals.

Every gig, every song, every sound, every frame, every moment is different and I try to work on it accordingly. It probably sounds tricky and for it is challenging still now, but I know I'm doing it right when I see how the people react. It's a big responsibility to be in front of what is shown on the screen (nowadays with all the visual trash), so for me, it is very rewarding when I see that people can feel the music through the eyes, and the screen is not just used as a cute wallpaper.

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Where are you based now and who do you work for?

I've been based in Amsterdam since 2014. 

I work as an independent artist in "Visual music and design for music" for a variety of clients that can be artists, musicians, record labels, event companies, Tv Shows, etc. I have had the pleasure of working for clients from Mongolia to Canada and for a diversity of music styles: from Rock, Classical and Early Music to Hard Core and Techno.

Having such a broad list of clients with different nationalities makes my work even more fun because it also involves an intercultural component that must be taken into account. That is a challenge that I am always willing to accept and from which I learn at all times.

I’m happy to say that I work for the best clients in the world because they often last for years so we become good friends.

If you weren’t in your current industry, what would you be doing?

Oh, that is a difficult question!

Music and Art are two things I’m very passionate about since I was a teenager; I even used to sing in rock competitions and in a band of soul, haha!

But if for some reason I would not have been able to work in what I do now, I'd be on the path of Animation. It is something I enjoyed a lot when I was studying at the university and in which I’ve gained experience. I used to be a full time illustrator and Art Director for an Editorial company, so maybe I’d turn my focus to get into 2D animation and motion graphics.

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Can you explain your creative process?

My creative process goes mainly this way:

Once my client briefs clearly on what she/he needs, what I do is to research references that help visualize it. I make a mood board out of all kinds of images (screenshots from videos, artworks, logos, fonts, etc.) and discuss it with the client. If it's necessary I suggest the style or the technique (some clients are not really sure of what they want), and then together we decide which way to go.

I like to work with the client in every state of the project, listening to her/his point of view; this is important for me and, in my opinion, it makes the final product more accurate. I find team work the best way to go in this kind of creative processes because for instance in the case of a musician, she/he is who really knows what is being expressed in the music.

There are a few other cases where the client gives me free will to work, so I do my best to translate what she/he needs through my visual language; sometimes in this way the final product gets to be even more attractive and satisfying.

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How would you describe your style?

My style is definitely collage! And by saying ‘collage’ I mean a combination of different styles and techniques, not just the cut and paste art.

It was since I started working in this that I found it very catchy, and I'm visually attracted to work with vintage imagery mixed with colorful elements in motion graphics for an specific kind of music, for instance, or to combine 3D elements with digital art and illustration for another music style.

I like to create a different visual style for each one of my clients, the same reason why not every sound it's the same.

Which individuals do you gain inspiration from? Do you have any heroes in the industry?

Yes, definitely. Although you could get inspiration from everyone, I especially admire the work of Stuart Warren (Hexstatic), Yannick Jacquet (Anti Vj), Michael Faulkner (D-Fuse), Scott Hansen (Tycho), and Julien Pacaud. Also, my personal hero and very good friend Michelle Van Mil (VeeMee Visuals) from whom I learn new every time.

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How has technology affected the way you work?

Technology has opened a wide range of possibilities to visual arts in general. First of all, nowadays there are countless softwares and ways to make visual music (each artist can choose and adapt a different setup to her/his personal skills). Live or pre-made, it's a matter of taste if the result is still the visualization of the music.

Secondly, with the pandemic situation technology has played a very interesting and important role because it has made possible that Visual Artists still can stream their live Vj sets in watch parties, or work in stunning VR stages where big concerts are happening, and the people can feel like being in a parallel world. So, technology just has been helpful for everyone, in my opinion.

What’s your secret to staying inspired and motivated?

To stay inspired, keep checking with admiration and respect the work from other Designers and Visual artists. Stay informed about softwares and new possibilities with each one. Be curious and research how to do everything that comes to your mind. Which options are viable according to your skills and which ones you can learn and improve.

To stay motivated, remember when you started. Checking your own old projects and comparing them with the new ones is very rewarding when you notice the evolution. For me, the competition should not be with others but with yourself, so when you do that, you’ll feel that there is still a long path to walk and you will immediately want to go further!

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What’s the work achievement you’re most proud of?

I have some achievements that I am proud of, but the biggest is definitely when I was able to go to work for 6 weeks in Ulan Bator for the reality show “The Voice of Mongolia''.

Although I had been there on a few other occasions before to work in a Music Festival, to be there for the show was definitely a great opportunity not only because of the work itself, but because living there and sharing on a daily basis with a culture that is totally different than mine, was a great experience. To learn from the way they work, the way they think, the way they like things to be done, and to be able to contribute, was very fulfilling. I feel a lot of respect for the Mongolian people in general. Mongolian culture is filled with warmth and generosity, people are hardworking and ambitious so it's always a pleasure for me to go there and work together in achieving their goals. They deserve the best. 

How do you recharge away from the office?

I like to spend time with my family. I like to disconnect myself for a couple of days from the projects I’m doing and enjoy the moments with my little daughter and loved husband.

I cannot lie, tho’. It is very hard for me to stop thinking about work because it's also my hobby, but I do my best to separate both things. And if I get creative I just draw a little sketch or take a picture of what has inspired me, and I check it later when I'm back at the studio. Being a mom really does not and should not mean an obstacle for being a great artist!

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What is one tip that you would give to other aspiring creatives looking for work?

The competition is vast, so more than trying to be unique (let's stay honest, that is very rare nowadays), work hard to become really good first. So, be disciplined and improve your skills constantly. Try to find the style you feel more comfortable working with. You don't need to know everything or manage all the softwares but you do need to be really good at one.

Once you have it, everything will follow. You can observe the work of others with respect, mainly using that as a reference for your own work but do not copy even if you feel you are not inspired. Remember what Picasso used to say: “Inspiration exists but it has to find you working”.  

What’s your one big hope for the future of the industry?

I hope that technology will keep playing for and not against our work as visual artists. I'm afraid that one day it will be thought that an automatic setup in a specific software can do our job better, and then we will move backward to when the screen was used as a cute wallpaper instead of enhancing the music.

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If you could change one thing about the industry, what would that be?

I’d like that visual artists and musicians were recognized equally because unfortunately until now the visuals have been very underestimated. The people ignore how powerful and meaningful visuals can really be in an event. Until now, visual artists have mainly moved in the background and I feel it's necessary to start changing that mindset. But it's teamwork.

I also think it's important to address the issue of genre in the industry; being a woman I can speak for a more diverse environment, where the possibilities and needs can be talked about and negotiated.

Do you have any websites, books or resources you would recommend?

I’d recommend books like “Understanding media. The extensions of man" by Marshall McLuhan, ”The perception of the visual world”  by James J. Gibson, as well as “The image and the eye: further studies in the psychology of pictorial representation” by Leonie Gombrich.

In addition I recommend to always keep a wide open eye on every visual show possible out there.

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