Featured Graphic Designer

Mauro A. Santos

July 2019

We chat with Independent Multidisciplinary Graphic Designer, Mauro A. Santos about his childhood—and how he used to sneak out of the house to join his graffiti crew. He explains his move to working in a parallel-processing structure, and we chat about the impact the tourism, hospitality & lifestyle industries have had locally on the design industry.

Any hilarious stories about you as a kid being creative?

Since I was something like 3 or 4 years old I have been noted as being a good observer and having above average drawing skills. Once, after a school visit to the local fire department, I surprised everyone with a very detailed drawing of a fire truck. I do also remember dreaming of setting up a cartoon television series with my third-grade best buddy. But it was later, at the still young age of 12, that graffiti came and really drew my attention to letters, colors, shapes, rebellion and underground cultures. By that time my parents wouldn’t allow me to go out at night, let alone to write illegal graffiti as you can imagine. So, very carefully, I would hop out my bedroom window to join my crew to color the city.

What's the worst design job you’ve ever had and how does that make you a better designer?

I don’t have that much experience working for other creative firms, studios or agencies. So I can’t point a single one out, but, I would say all of them taught me invaluable lessons. Some taught me about the type of work I don’t want to do in the future, others taught me (basically for not allowing me to do it), about how I really value and enjoy embracing the complexity of the design process and narrowing it down until I feel there is something new and exciting.

Those less good experiences made me think about what I really stand for, how creative independence is vital, and why I chose graphic design not only as a professional path but also as a personal path. And for all those, I’m really thankful.

How did you name your practice and what does the name represent to you?

I am actually on the verge of stepping into a new stage. Parallel-processing is the new framework that I’m convinced that will enable me to output the creativity and thought into subjects that I really relate and care about, aiming to solve relevant challenges and positively impacting common people’s lives.

The concept came to me a few years ago and it is making more sense than ever. It combines what I believe what should be a communication design practice. A combination of several people, with different skillsets, ways of seeing and think, and that together create and solve faster and better.


Don’t be fooled by what many design studios show in their front window.


Give us the elevator pitch on what you do.

I work as an independent multidisciplinary graphic designer, with a strong interest in the realm of visual communication now focused in the domain of architecture, urban planning and city affairs. Convinced in graphic design ability as a mean of communication of excellence, either by its effectiveness to appeal, educate and inform, as well as a fundamental methodological tool to solve complex topics in order to clarify the relations between meaning, content, and form. Pliiiiing!

What advice would you give students graduating in 2019?

First. Don’t be fooled by what many design studios show in their front window.

Second. Know yourself and believe in yourself, be flexible but don’t bend.

Third. Don’t follow advice!

What is the design landscape like on your city and where do you fit in?

I feel that 90% of the design created here is being done with a mercantilist and order-taker approach. Tourism, hospitality and lifestyle sectors brought a lot of new business opportunities (luxury real-estate development, fancy restaurants, hip cafés, fashion boutiques, digital products and services, and whatnot), all but sugar coating designed for the elite few. In fact, you can really tell and feel the discomfort in our daily lives and how it is negatively affecting our fragile social fabric. Unfortunately, there isn’t much room for social, responsible and not for profit design. Also, we lack from democratic (and scarce) access to public fundings to tackle important issues, leaving us little room to resist and work in more meaningful ways.

So as I told you before, what I’m trying with parallel-processing is to find the sweet spot. To use design as a weapon for the public good in order to empower people!

Website: o-grafiks.pt

Twitter: @o_grafiks


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