Designer Interview: Eric Torres (Part II)
Designer Interview: Eric Torres (Part II)
Welcome back to our interview with designer and illustrator Eric Torres. Hopefully you enjoyed the first installment, or if you missed it, catch up here.
Last time Eric talked about how he balances a successful professional career while developing his personal project, The World of Rynaga, a vivid fantasy world and game. Now we've asked Eric to discuss some of his artistic inspirations and what he sees in Rynaga's future. He shares some thoughts on freelancing and suggestions for designers thinking about freelancing or pursuing personal projects.
Q: What inspired you to become a designer in the first place, and what inspires you on a daily basis?
A: Well, just outside of Phoenix is a small town called Tolleson. I grew up there. Growing up we didn’t have much materially, but my Mom had my siblings and me at the Tolleson library (and with seven kids, it was pretty much her only quiet time) doing crafts, playing board games, listening to authors read books, using instruments and participating in little team-based exercises.
Looking back, I can see how these experiences taught me to use my imagination to solve problems and conceptualize new things. Reading books and magazines also impressed upon me the value of written expression as well as the joys of storytelling. Not only did the library offer inspiration, it gave me a world view and taught me the importance of seeing life beyond my own community.
While I play the role of a commercial designer and art director in my career now, creativity is a lifestyle for me. Making things, seeing ideas come to life and observing life in all of its forms here on Earth inspire me daily.
Q: Are there any specific designers or artists that have had a large impact on your life or style?
A: Wow. Too many. Designers and artists such as Massimo Vignelli, Mary Blair, Milton Glaser, Erté and Alphonse Mucha. Writers like Tolkien, J.M. Barrie, Jack London, Homer and Tennyson. There are many local creatives that are great colleagues and even friends, capable of providing perspective and constructive feedback. Tiny Army, Co+Hoots and Gangplank have been great spots for meeting such people.
Q: What is your favorite designer’s or artist’s tool and why?
A: Pens or pencils. Specifically these fine point pens by Sharpie. There’s nothing as immediate as sketching out an illustration idea or capturing a campaign in a series of thumbnails. Ideas can move fast, so I always have a pen and sketch pad around for drawing and writing.
Q: What challenges did you face in creating Rynaga?
A: Fear. I'd worry about whether or not I'd lose objectivity with my own work, whether or not my ideas would be embraced or whether or not my efforts would exist in obscurity. Other challenges included time management. As a kid from the 80’s, video games are in my blood and I had to learn to seriously limit the time I spent gaming. Unfair comparisons would creep up too. Comparing my work to that of others I admired was something I did early in my efforts. I had a tendency to view other peoples work as magical or somehow above my own potential. I had to squash this form of self-doubt and concentrate on being as personally authentic as possible. Looking back, it’s amazing to me how much time I wasted worrying. Once I moved past irrational fears great things started happening. All I had lacked was the confidence to start doing.
Q: What do you see or hope to see in the future for Rynaga?
A: When I look ahead I see an independent franchise. I see a project lead by myself, yet influenced by a community of supporters helping to make Rynaga more than I can make it on my own. I see books, games, art, events, workshops, even film.
I’m not afraid to dream big, but I know my place in the big picture. I know I’ll need to partner with the right people. I know I’ll need to keep the promises I make to supporters, clients and patrons. I know there will be some things I may never see come to pass.
Perhaps I’ll leave a body of work behind for another creative to carry as a torch. That would be the greatest honor this project could receive, even if unseen by my eyes.
Q: Do you have any suggestions for other designers out there looking to pursue a personal project of their own or freelancing?
A: Whether you want to start freelancing or embark on a personal creative journey, do not give up. When we give up we lose. Cultivate creative toughness. Celebrate small successes. Learn how to face disappointment. Be dauntless and determined in the face of limitations. Your will can make the way. Many people out there have overcome many challenges to be where they are in their lives or careers. Listen to their stories and learn from them.
I read somewhere once that freelancers must decide what they want in life: to have a job, to make a difference or to leave a legacy. I think if we live a creative lifestyle, we can have it all.