Interviewing Idols: Rita Louro
Lisbon-based 3D Artist & Art Director, Rita Louro, creates wonderfully playful and colourful motion graphic artwork that shows off her immense talent. As a freelancer, she has a broad skill set that allows her to create artwork in many different styles & for many different clients. As a result, her work has been a great collective pool for me to delve deep into and reference in my own work.
Working as a freelancer alongside other artists for broadcasting clients like BBC, Channel Four, Discovery Channel and studios like WeAreSeventeen, Future Deluxe, The Mill, The Fabricant, Tendril and so many more. She’s also had her work been featured all over the place, with the front page of Behance and Vimeo showing off her work.
Her work really sets her apart from what you typically see on Instagram at the moment, and it’s abundantly clear — Rita is an extremely talented designer, and someone I really wanted to talk to about their journey into the world of design.
Why does she inspire me?
I only recently discovered Rita’s work (Nidia Dias actually gave me the recommendation!) so it’s all quite new to me. But wow, does it impress. If I could sum up Rita’s work in one word, it would be wonderous. Everything has a sense of playfulness and just enjoyment for design which is lovely to see.
The first thing I saw of Rita’s work was a project called ‘Fabrications’, which is a lovely project looking at collages of colour and texture within a 3D space. I think it sums Rita’s style perfectly — pure playfulness. Her work emphasizes how fun a 3D space is to play in, and her work shines in amongst the mix of the blue and purple space renders we are seeing all too often at the moment.
Rita’s website is also a lovely mix of inspiration and amazing client work. As I keep saying, I think it’s really important for students to see the best designers' process/experimental work. A lot of us get in the ‘we can’t do this mindset’, when in reality the designers we are looking at couldn’t do it either! It takes time, and I think it’s really valuable to see the process on these designers' websites. Rita’s experiments are a lovely mix of textures and colours, and you can clearly see where her personal experiments have influenced her commercial work.
The Interview part
I was lucky enough to be able to ask Rita some questions about herself and her career. I hope this’ll give you a little bit of an insight into her life, personal and commercial as well as her design process. It’s not every day you get to interview an idol!
1. Who are you, and how did you start your journey into the world of design?
Hey, I’m Rita! I sort of stumbled into the world of design on accident, to be honest. I grew up in a very small town in Portugal without internet or cable TV and because of that, I didn’t have much access to the ongoings of the outside world. I only really saw the world of ‘digital design’ when I got into University, until then was very minimal or even non-existent.
However, growing up like that meant that I had to be creative on how to fill my spare time — this meant that I started developing some passion for drawing and painting. I also enjoyed making my friends birthday gifts and that creative side of me increasingly developed through the years.
In Portugal when you go to high school, you need to choose an area of specialization. I knew I wanted Arts but unfortunately, my high school didn’t have that option, so I chose Literature and Languages instead. This option created a problem when it was time to choose a University degree because I couldn’t apply to any art-related courses. However, after a lot of research, I found a course called “Broadcast & Multimedia” in Lisbon and I could apply to it with the classes I had. The description of the course had things like “Photography, Web design, Graphic Design, Cinematography….” So I thought it was a good option because it would touch a certain amount of disciplines without committing to any and best of all it was something creative and art-related.
While at Uni I started getting in touch with the concept of design and digital art. Such a big world to discover and I got hooked! I started by believing I wanted to be a Web Designer so I focused more on that side while I was studying.
Then I got my first job as a web designer. While at this job I stumbled across motion graphics because a colleague was developing some idents. I started getting more interested in that, than in the web design I was doing. I really started investing my time in Motion Design, and all of a sudden it’s been 13 years.
2. Could you give some insight into your creative process?
My creative process always depends on the job or project, especially because sometimes, due to time restrictions, the creative process needs to be adapted or shorter. However, I will be describing my ideal process!
I like to start by thinking and reading instead of jumping straight to software and start creating. I feel a lot of possibilities can get lost in that way. Having said this, the first thing I normally do is research the theme or subject I am approaching. I take notes and try to connect conceptual dots.
This can be super fun! It’s almost like being a mad scientist trying to find the perfect formula.
The second step is looking into references and visual inspiration. It doesn’t need to be only 3D-related inspiration, in fact, my favorite references come from other disciplines like sculpture, architecture and of course the natural world.
Once I’ve got some ideas, references, and a vague notion of what and how I want to approach I do some sketches and see what comes out of it. Sketches help a lot to create consistency and visualize abstract ideas. Also, I enjoy drawing a lot so it’s great to practice my drawing skills which I can’t do a lot when creating in 3D.
After having some rough sketches on paper I try to translate them into the Digital World and explore/experiment with composition, light, and texture. After I’ve got a good amount of rough sketches, I nail it to a few of the numbers needed for the project and start polishing or doing variations on those. Et voila!
3. Where do you get your inspiration for projects? Who inspires you!
My inspiration comes from a lot of different sources.
Sometimes while going for walks or to places I haven’t been before I catch some details on the scenery that inspire me. Other times while I’m reading a book, certain concepts or subjects catch my attention and I take a note that it’s something I want to explore in the future.
I love to get inspiration from Nature, funky natural features or creatures, peculiar flora elements… But I also take a lot of inspiration from Traditional arts like sculpture, architecture, installations, performance arts, fiber arts…
I mentally collect all the things that please my eyes in the real world because sooner or later I know it might be a useful element in some project.
4. What are some of the largest challenges you had to overcome during your artmaking process?
There are different types of difficulties that have come my way, some I am not sure I have made peace with, others it’s an ongoing attempt to get over it.
One challenge I had early on in my career after University was that there were not many jobs in Lisbon. It was very difficult at that time to progress and get better in a full-time job because the motion industry was very behind in comparison with other countries. Portugal was also in an economic crisis and salaries were very low. This was 12 years ago more or less, and thankfully it’s much better now!
At that time, I was completely burnt out and decided to move to London looking for ways to learn and develop and get a better salary (this was around 2012). I’m very glad I took this decision because it literally changed my life and career for the better. This was a very big thing to overcome especially because I was super shy and going to an unknown big city in another country and having to meet strangers and interact with them was such a challenge. After a while, I started to surround myself with very nice supportive people who made everything much easier! And thanks to this I was able to move back to Portugal after 5 years and have a good amount of connections that allow me to work remotely while being close to my family and having a good quality of life.
The biggest challenge however I would say it’s my own brain. How to deal with the Imposter Syndrome that all of us have to a certain degree. “It’s my work good enough? Am I doing enough? Is my art relevant? Will people like this? Am I going to perform well in this job?” And this one I don’t think I have overcome just yet and not sure I will ever do completely. But I think this is just a part of being an artist — something we all deal with!
5. Do you have any big designs/projects in the works or anything that excites you about the future of your career?
I have a big list of personal projects I would like to do and experiment with and that excites me!
I’m still driven and ambitious but I stopped being stressed about “what to do next”, I’m enjoying the ride more than the final line which I have no idea what and where it will be.
A few years ago the idea of not knowing or not having a plan would have scared the crap out of me but right now I’m happy and open to whatever opportunity comes my way.
This way I’m also more open-minded to other things I might not have considered before but that can make sense depending on the stage you are in life.
6. I’ve been fascinated with the work you created with Puma!
The Puma film was super fun to work on, not only because of the outcome itself, which I’m very proud of but also because of the people I had the pleasure to work with at The Fabricant!
Working on a project like the Puma one was also one of those occasions that I just took the opportunity that was presented to me. I never consciously intended to get into the world of digital fashion in all honesty!
What happened was that I started playing with Marvelous Designer and dressing up stupid 3D things like mushrooms just for fun. While I was in that phase I started paying more attention to companies like The Fabricant and then we connected and worked a few times together being the Puma project one of those! Creating 3D fabric is challenging because the fabric it’s one element everyone can relate to from the real world therefore the shader needs to be even more convincing but the final result it’s always so rewarding!
7. Is experimentation your favourite thing when creating? Or do you prefer to see the ‘final’ project more?
I like both but I need to admit that I am the happiest when I’m just experimenting and exploring weird colorful things.
It’s a sense of freedom and lack of pressure that you don’t get with commercial work.
I feel that these creative breaks with experimental projects help with the motivation for the commercial ones. I have been discovering that taking a break and just playing and experimenting with things within your own style exercises that creative muscle needed for other projects even if you have to tone down the level of experimental feel.
I also believe the more personal projects you do and share, the more projects like that come your way. I got a few fun commissions by doing this! It’s great when people just say “ we like your style, just do your thing “. As we all know, this is the most amazing thing to ever happen to an artist. Without my experiments, no one could even get a sense of what “my thing is” and this is one more reason I like to experiment with things, to let people know what I’m into or who I am as a designer.
8. I loved your work with Adobe! How was it working with an amazing company like Tendril!?
It’s amazing and also nerve-racking because they are so good at what they do that you always feel the pressure to be at your best but this is me and maybe there are people who can deal with their imposter syndrome better than I do).
Funny you ask this because I’m currently on a 3-month contract with them and, aside from that pressure, I am loving it. Everyone is super nice and you get the chance to work with people you probably have been following the work for years. Also, more than a company feels like a community of like-minded people that love what they do and that can be super motivating. Because of that community feeling (especially with the pandemic), it feels less lonely to work from home! I go to work with a smile every day because I know I will be chatting with super nice people, I will probably learn something new, I am working on cool stuff and I’m in touch with what’s going on in the motion design world because everyone shares cool stuff they see.
9. You’ve got so much work on your page! What do you like to do in your time away from work?
I have a ton of hobbies. Sometimes too many hobbies to be honest haha! I keep discovering new ones all the time! Most of my hobbies are related to art as well so It’s all one precious ecosystem more than time away from work because my work can feed from my hobbies and vice-versa. These hobbies also depend on my current mood. I love drawing and painting as I mentioned before and that is always one of those things I do in parallel but because I haven’t committed to a style yet I am always trying to learn new techniques or how to use different mediums.
More recently I have been into Knitting garments but this is an ongoing process of learning because it’s super hard and everything I’ve done so far it’s a bit crappy. But it’s relaxing and that’s great. Aside from these I also enjoy fixing and repurposing old things into new things whenever I need something around the house. And then gardening the few plants I have and running.
All of the above are more than enough to keep me busy in my spare time :D
10. Do you have any advice for students trying to get into the world of 3D and Digital Design?
I think the best advice I could ever give it’s to stay passionate, keep producing work even if it’s personal work but do it with passion and purpose because you will get noticed if your work it’s genuine.
It might take longer for some or be quicker for others but I truly believe that passion and hard work eventually pay off.
In practical terms, don’t just follow people and companies you like, be proactive and interact with them. Send messages to people which work you admire because you never know what opportunities can come from that!
11. Thank you for taking part in this for me, Rita! For the people who will read this interview, what are your social media links for people to follow your future work?
Thanks for the interview Charlie!
If you haven’t seen her work before, I urge you to go check it out! Rita is an amazing designer and an absolutely lovely person to chat to! She was one of the people who inspired me to pursue 3D design, have they inspired you to check it out?
Want to see more from me? Follow me on Medium, or my Instagram :)