"We are design." This is the statement by which every member of the team at Greco Design lives. Where products, people, projects and content converge; where ideals connect and ideas come true. A great power. And with a great power...
Gustavo Greco is the creative director and founder of Greco Design, which he has been running since 2005 with great mastery and consciousness throughout visual identities, signage, packaging and editorial. "We live in a reality that is progressively more and more imaginary," Gustavo says, a reality which comes with its own share of responsibilities. And because of this, every designer should be fully conscious of the kind of contribution each visual project makes to society. Digital can make us more connect; but it can also drive us farther apart.
Today we are Getting to Know a focused professional and leader, including his struggles with Covid-19 and his inspiring views on the social role of design.
Tell us about your current role!
I run the creative area at Greco, a company that works with visual identity, signage, packaging and editorial projects, and which is considered to be one of the most highly awarded in Brazil. In the last few years, we can cite Design Lions at the Cannes Festival, D&AD, Grand Prix at Red Dot Design Award, iF Communication Award, London International Awards and the Award and Mention at the Bienal Iberoamericana de Diseño.
I am also active in the academic area, as a Post Baccalaureate Professor in Brand Management at PUC MG University, and as the Exponential Design Post Baccalaureate Program Director, a program which I created and founded at Uni-BH University. I dedicate myself to design-diffusion initiatives throughout Brazilian society, as the national President of Abedesign (Brazilian Design Association). I am a frequent juror at awards programs and ceremonies in Brazil and abroad and in 2019 was the curator of the 13th Brazilian Biennial of Graphic Design (ADG BRASIL).
How did you get to your current position? What was the biggest challenge?
I went to Law School and majored in Advertising at the same time but at different Universities. When I graduated, I opened my first design office with two friends. In 2005 I founded Greco and took on the role of Creative Director. The greatest challenge has been the same since the beginning. To keep our design production relevant and up-to-date. And we have managed to fulfill our manifest which says: "We are the meeting of an idea with the world. Of design with business. Of people with design. We reveal what things – those that exist or those that could exist – mean to say. We tell this to the world. When the subject is design, we are plural. The point where everything converges and where it connects. People, projects, products and contents. We are design, period.”
What is your personal background and what role did it play in your career?
My mother’s family has always put a lot of emphasis on and given a lot of value to knowledge. My grandfather used to say that nobody can take from us what we have in our minds. My father’s family has more of a history in business. I like to joke that I am a cross between an encyclopedia and a cash register.
What’s your secret to keeping the team inspired and motivated?
I heard once that it’s more important for the team to believe in what the leader believes in than in the leader himself. I have a team that has worked together for many years, which isn’t very common in our area, you know? One of the major characteristics of Greco is that we are always changing all of the time. I am a restless person, and this is reflected in my team. We don’t allow ourselves to get complacent. We like new ideas, trying out new ways of doing things, and experimenting. And developing design solutions that strive for excellence, but contain a certain dose of boldness built in to them. Always focused on the human being.
How has COVID-19 affected you as a leader?
The COVID virus has put all leadership roles to the test. My first concern was to provide my team with, at least, a certain financial, and primarily emotional level of security. At the Design Association that I preside over (Abedesign) our main goal was to make ourselves even more present. Right away at the very beginning we launched a series of online conversations with the principal Brazilian design leaders so that the associates could share in what these businesses were doing to overcome the crisis. In the educational area, the challenge was to keep the professors and students motivated through distance learning.
What is your one advice to aspiring creatives looking to be successful?
Be constantly curious, exercising your listening and studying, always. I believe in the maxim that creativity is the result of your imagination with your repertoire. Therefore, the greater the latter the greater your creative potential. And in the case that your intention is to have a company, remember that it is imperative to know about finances and understand time management.
How do you recharge away from the office?
The thing I like to do most of all, when I can, is to travel around the world, getting to know different people and cultures. During the work week, I take a few hours off to practice yoga and swimming.
What’s your one big dream for the future of the industry?
My reflections on the future are very much related to the craft itself. In the real, globalized world, with environmental crises, we encounter the digital one, undoubtedly more imperative with the most highly intense communication scenarios involving economics, politics and culture. Based on this, I feel more and more the urgency of discussing the social role of design. Understanding the place and attribution of the profession and design as a discipline for promoting change in all environments is what motivates me the most. The power of design as an agent for overcoming crises, social as well as economic, is historic. And the way in which we solve highly complex problems has never been more important for brands to make it clear where and what they came from.
We live in a reality that is progressively more and more imaginary. Because of this, the designer must be aware of the weight of the responsibility of putting visual projects out there into the world. It is impossible to disassociate a project from the values and concepts that it originated from, from the ideologies behind it. Design is never neutral. And considering that what we do is, most of the time, done for others, design will always fundamentally have a social and political role