Novedge: Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. Esteban Diacono: I'm a Motion Graphics Designer from Buenos Aires, Argentina. I'm 42 years old (which is quite rare in the industry) and I have been doing this for over 18 years now. I started my career as a traditional Graphic Designer. After a few years I started doing some video editing, then I moved onto color correction and it all eventually lead to full time animation work.
Novedge: Is it true that you are completely self taught? How did it all start?
Esteban Diacono: I would say that I'm 90% self taught. When I was about 19, 20 years old, I started studying Graphic Design at a private university in Cordoba, where I was living. It was a difficult time, since my father had passed away a couple years before; after one year I could not support my studies anymore, so I decided to invest some money in books and in a computer. I'm talking about a 486 PC, from the time when Intel's Pentium processor wasn't even invented yet. With the help of those books, and experimenting with the computer, I started learning and diving into the tools that would become my toolset eventually. 3D Studio Max was in its third version, and Photoshop didn't have layers. My main interest then was Corel Draw and it's funny to think that a tool so primitive by today standards was SO exciting at the time.
Novedge: What is a recent project you have worked on ?
Esteban Diacono: Lately I've been investing quite some time in doing some personal projects. Last year I felt that I wasn't keeping up with today's standards of quality and technical sophistication, so I decided to dedicate a few hours a day to give shape and motion to my interests and obsessions. In these months I've done around 150 short animations, mostly divided in two series (because I have the tendency to name things). One is called Uncanny, and explores the relationship between attraction and rejection, something that I've found fascinating since the first time I heard about the Uncanny Valley concept. The other series is called Trypophobia and it's an exploration of a new pseudo-phobia that basically was born in the internet's forums. Trypophobiadescribes the irrational fear of small holes. After learning about it, I decided to use motion capture data and create some weird looking characters in ridiculous actions.
Novedge: Your body of work is incredibly diverse. Is this a personal choice, to constantly mix it up?
Esteban Diacono: Well, I have a lot of interests and try to take a decent amount of risks. Since I lack a formal education, I'm not much of a method person, so I approach every job with a mindset that is pretty dependent of what's going on in my head at the moment. And yes, it's a choice, since I've been typecast in the past (when every client wanted a particle based, music visualization, based on my work for Olafur Arnalds) ; I guess it's a little boring to do variations of the same thing over and over, even when you're very good at it (not my case, of course).
Novedge: What software do you use?
Esteban Diacono: A ton. For years, my main tools were 3dsMaxand After Effects, but eventually I started to try and add more tools. In the past I've used Poser a lot, Bryce and tons of plugins. These days I'm mostly working with Cinema 4D, Houdini, Maya and the Adobe Suite. I still use Daz3D, Realflowand other tools for specific things, but my main toolset is kind of fixed now, since I've found a combination of apps that I'm super comfortable with. Having said that, I'm still interested in tools that can enhance my work or help me realize my vision. Last year I had a blast experimenting with a software designed to visualize chemical reactions. What can I say? Learning never ends.
Novedge: Was there a job that was particularly challenging, but unexpectedly rewarding in the end?
Esteban Diacono: I did a job for PayPal a few years ago that was completely based on water simulations. The idea was to create a piece that was inspiring, that talked about Design Principles and that was abstract but meaningful. Bonkers. I dove into Realflow for weeks, constantly experimenting and suffering for the long, at some point uncontrollable simulations. In the end, the piece came out kind of nice. Also, I had the chance to use the music of one of my favorite musicians for it, so it was good.
Novedge: You also like to do some pro-bono work. How do you decide?
Esteban Diacono: I think everyone has to contribute somehow to create a better world, otherwise we are doomed. Even in a profession that can be sometime superficial detached as mine. I've given my project files to people who could actually affect others' life in a positive way. My music visualization project has been adapted and used to help deft kids enhance their appreciation of music, providing visual stimulation. I've made modifications on projects so people can use them in the strangest of situations. One time I modified my viz project for a weeding, another time for a funeral. These days I'm trying to find a collaborator to work on a project to fight violence against women in my country. Femicide is a huge problem in Argentina, I'll be happy if I can use my limited skills to raise awareness.
Novedge: What skills have you acquired in life that are now serving you in your profession?
Esteban Diacono: Uf, difficult one. I'm an introvert, so being an independent content creator is hard for me. I kind of hate everything that's related to the business part of my profession, and probably that's why I usually end up getting bad deals. I would say that learning to say NO has saved me from a lot of trouble, in life and in my work. When your job is also your passion, it can consume your life very easily, so I'm constantly trying to find balance between what's work and what's life. I usually fail, but that's another story.
Novedge: To be a successful Motion Artist you need…….
Esteban Diacono: I'm not sure if I can answer this, since I don't consider myself successful. I mean, I don't wake up in the morning with emails from Nike or Adidas, offering me lots of money to do stuff or anything like that. If you want to be CONSIDERED or noted, I think you need to have the drive to be in a constant state of learning. The motion industry is constantly changing and becoming more and more sophisticated, so if you want to keep up and be desirable to clients and studios, you need to invest in learning and experimenting. When I went to the OFFF Festival in Barcelona to give a talk, I shared only one quote. It was from when Conan O'Brien left the Tonight Show after a very strange run. The quote goes like this:
If you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen.
I try to live by that, and it's the only piece of advice I would give.
Novedge: What artists in your field (or not) inspire you the most?
Esteban Diacono: These days I find inspiration in the work of some studios and designers that are pushing the limits of Motion Graphics. Studios like Future Deluxe, Man Vs Machine, Aixsponzaand some others, are bringing an unprecedented technical and artistic level to the game and it's amazing. People like Ash Thorpe, Maciej Kuciara and Vitaly Bulgarovhave been sharing their work for Ghost in the Shell and it's great to witness their insane talent. One artist that has always been a huge inspiration not only in work, but also in life is Stefan Sagmeister. Stefan has so much wisdom to share that every time I've collaborated or had lunch with him, it has been mind blowing.
There were so many mind blowing images to choose among Esteban's work, that I had a very hard time selecting the few that follow. Please understand and forgive. You might want to check out Esteban's website and his Vimeo channel. His Instagram account is pretty awesome too!
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