February 13, 2018

GS . Q / A . Mike Tavarez

 What was your first memory of creating something artistically?

 I accidentally stumbled into my first artistic creation in the first grade.  The other first grade students would often draw simple flat crosses whenever they were bored with classwork. In an attempt to fit in I would also draw crosses until I accidentally added a line extruding from the cross.  Something about this line was really interesting so I added more lines like it. Eventually my cross had perspective and dimensionality. After that day I became consumed with sketching objects in 3D perspective, and later I became fascinated learning lighting and shadow. 


You are a graduate of Otis College of Art. What led you to Otis?

 My high school art teacher recommended Otis to me.  I had already been accepted to a local state school where all my friends were going and I didn't want to move from my hometown. However, I gave Otis a chance by driving with my mom to visit the school. During that trip the student interaction won me over. I spoke with a group of undergraduates who seemed happy, creative, and genuinely kind. Those students did me a huge favor because applying to Otis was one of the best decisions I've ever made.


Who are the people that have inspired you the most?

 Personally, my father inspired me because of his relentless work ethic. When I was young he would take me to his fence company and I would see him work from sunrise to sunset. I noticed his ability to engage all his employees with his rigorous energy. Creatively, most of my inspiration came from directors like Michel Gondry and Oskar Fischinger. Their work brilliantly combined my favorite mediums; film, animation and music. I love their ability to make breathtaking visuals out of simple shapes and ideas.  


What do you think was the most important thing you learned from Otis?

 The greatest lesson I learned from Otis was that the other students were the most important aspect to success.  Whether I needed help learning a creative software, assistance setting up camera equipment, or even sharing recommendations for job opportunities, having a close relationship to a community of friends was and still is unbelievably valuable. 


What has been the most inspiring part of your career and why?

  Once again, my peers have been the most inspiring part of my career. Whenever I’ve taken a giant leap creatively I can almost always attribute it to a friend or coworker who was inspiring me at the time. That inspiration could have come from their hard work, amazing reference, or just their brilliant artistic creations. 


You’ve said before that you have never said no to an alluring creative challenge. Why do you think this is and do you have a specific tactic in approaching a creative challenge?

 Some of my favorite projects have been the few where there is no time to noodle with the details. These time constraints have forced me to focus on concepts over embellishment and style. I find less is often more when it comes to design and having challenges force me to spotlight the heart of the task.


What do you think will be the next big thing in design?

  I think motion design and film making is more in demand than ever. More attention is given to having thoughtful visuals on just about every type of screen. The future might call for screens on cereal boxes or even on clothing.  When that day comes, you better believe there will be a need for some kick ass motion design.


You are one seriously awesome art director, what is the most challenging part of your position and what is the most rewarding part?

  I really love being an art director, it’s my dream job.  However, a challenging part for me is often letting go of trying to be an artist on my own projects and let my creative team take on tasks for me. More often than not, I am more useful when I'm keeping an eye on the big picture rather than trying to design my own shots. Conversely the most rewarding part of being an art director is conceptualizing the big picture and working in collaboration with others to create a unified vision.   


 What TV or movie character do you relate the most to? 

Wall-E. For sure. I relate to his inability to live a quiet normal life, and stumbling into situations that somehow end up saving the world. 


 If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be? 

 I’m already living in it.  Los Angeles!  But if you’re asking what place I would live outside of LA, I would say Tokyo, Japan has a special place in my heart. 


The new year induces a desire of wanting to start fresh and set new goals. Anything in store for you in 2018? 

Lately I've found that creativity comes in many different forms, especially in my free time. In 2018 I’m looking for inspiration in areas like cooking, surfing, and even Latin dance classes.  There is an abundance of overlapping concepts that have inspired me from these new passions that are inspiring my work here at Gentleman Scholar. 

Collaborators by Design