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Interview with Thanatos Digital Agency

Home > Designer Interviews > Thanatos Digital Agency

Editor Frank Scott (FS) from DesignPRWire has interviewed designer Thanatos Digital Agency (TDA) for A’ Design Award and Competition. You can access the full profile of Thanatos Digital Agency by clicking here.

Interview with Thanatos Digital Agency at Monday 4th of May 2020
Thanatos Digital Agency
FS: Could you please tell us more about your art and design background? What made you become an artist/designer? Have you always wanted to be a designer?
TDA: - Dario: I started drawing as a child, and I have cultivated this passion over the years as a hobby. Growing up I went from traditional to digital drawing, and from here I started to get interested in the various forms of digital art, then went on to choose a design school for university. - Roberto: As a child like all children I dreamed of becoming a superhero or an astronaut I never imagined becoming a designer. For sure I have always had a creative vision and with a few simple components I built my spaceship or costume. Growing up, I became more and more passionate about the world of design, I started my studies already in high school, I continued at AANT in Rome and then I never stopped because in this dynamic world, you never stop learning.

FS: Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
TDA: We are an independent, fast and constantly evolving creative agency. We believe in the strength of collaboration and we combine research, intuition and strategy with design and technology. Our solutions are unique, our services adapt to the customer with results that are always effective and innovative.

FS: What is "design" for you?
TDA: - Dario: For me, design is to find the most functional, and aesthetically satisfying way where possible, to solve a problem or respond to a need. - Roberto: For me, design is an alchemy of aesthetics and functionality that responds to a need or to a digital or analog purpose.

FS: What kinds of works do you like designing most?
TDA: - THANATOS: We mainly work on digital projects, we love to think of solutions that connect users to each other or to the world around them. But from time to time we hear the call of the flavor of paper, a more classic and handcrafted work but which always has its charm. - Dario: Photo editing was my first passion and it continues to be today. I like the fact of being able to take something ordinary and transform it into something else: whether it's a simple touch-up to embellish a photo, or a more complex compositing to create something that didn't exist before. - Roberto: In recent years I have discovered a real passion for the UI, it is very interesting because to design a functional interface I have to be able to see things from the user's point of view who is often a person with very different habits and expectations from mine, it is always a challenge. But I also love working on brand design projects, I think that working on the birth of a new brand is a great responsibility always paid off by the satisfaction in the customer's eyes.

FS: What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
TDA: It is not easy to choose one, we are satisfied with many projects and collaborations that in some ways have allowed us to get where we are today. But surely MAG Bistrot has marked a turning point in our journey, it was our first multidisciplinary project curated completely by us in all phases. Initially the road was uphill but then we also had fun, it allowed us to meet professionals from various sectors and have the pleasure of integrating classic analog and digital technologies and more innovative solutions. This time we felt that the customer was not only satisfied but had fully understood the importance of our work.

FS: What was the first thing you designed for a company?
TDA: In 2016, a few months after the birth of THANATOS Digital Agency we signed our first contract with the Teatro Eliseo in Rome. We have created a website dedicated to the launch and promotion of the 2016/2017 season ticket campaign. It was a great challenge, the deadlines were tight and the expectations high. Everything went great and today we have been the official digital partners of the theater for 4 years. It was our first small, but for us it was big, success.

FS: What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
TDA: - Dario: 3D graphics programs are the ones that give me the most satisfaction when I work, because they allow me to shape my thoughts without limits of any kind. - Roberto: I don't have a preference, I think every solution must be functional to the problem. At this time I would find stimulating work on a project that uses touch-less technology.

FS: When do you feel the most creative?
TDA: - Dario: Difficult question... I probably reach the maximum of creativity when the customer trusts fully, and after giving you a track leaves you free to experiment with alternative solutions to the more canonical ones. - Roberto: I wish I could give one of those cool answers like "Caribbean rum is my liquid creativity" but unfortunately it isn't. In general I feel more creative when I am rested and relaxed.

FS: Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
TDA: We believe in the strength of collaboration and we combine research, intuition and strategy with design and technology.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
TDA: - Dario: Leaving aside the frustration of some works... I think one of the most rewarding feelings is the satisfaction you feel when you draw something, and the result is the same as what you had imagined in your head. - Roberto: Honestly, it's something I've never thought about. I don't think I can identify a single one, it's more a whirlwind of emotions that can vary from project to project.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
TDA: - Dario: It depends a lot on the job ... sometimes you are not fully satisfied with the final result, for reasons that do not depend entirely on you; at other times you are completely proud and satisfied with a result. But in general it's a good feeling, because you know that you have delivered to the customer the product he needed. - Roberto: This is also a difficult question, I can't give an unequivocal answer. Each job is a story in itself. For me, the situation is similar to what you feel at the end of a sports race, the adrenaline drops and regardless of the result I am happy to have reached the end.

FS: What makes a design successful?
TDA: A design is successful when it is appreciated by the user for which it was designed. Our opinion and that of the customer must be technical and critical, but then the user's appreciation will always have the last word.

FS: When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
TDA: For us, good design is functional design. We always use "it works" and "it doesn't work" as an objective judgment meter, we would never define a design beautiful or ugly, these are too subjective and unreliable points of view.

FS: From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
TDA: A designer alone cannot obviously change the world, but we can be a powerful awareness tool for associations that are committed to the forefront on many fronts to which the right attention is not paid. Then in our small way we always respect the principles of usability and advise our customers to always consider accessibility and sustainability. For the rest, the designer is a normal person who, like everyone else, must behave responsibly and sensitively towards social and environmental issues.

FS: How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
TDA: Trends are unpredictable and change at the speed with which the world changes. They will follow the needs that users have at that moment.

FS: When was your last exhibition and where was it? And when do you want to hold your next exhibition?
TDA: We have never attended or organized an exhibition, but in the future who knows, it would be an interesting experience.

FS: Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
TDA: - Dario: I draw my inspiration mainly from social networks. I am a very curious person by nature, so whatever I see I analyze and dissect to understand first how it was made, and then how I could reuse that information to create something completely different. - Roberto: My main source of inspiration are the people, the colors, the infinite variety of stimuli from the world around me. I also spend a lot of time on sites dedicated to designers like Behance or Dribbble, I think you can learn a lot from the work of others. This helps me to look at my work more objectively without taking anything for granted.

FS: How would you describe your design style? What made you explore more this style and what are the main characteristics of your style? What's your approach to design?
TDA: For us, a true designer should not have a unique style, he must always be able to offer the most suitable solution for the customer. In design, for us, process and result have the same importance. For us it is unthinkable to achieve a quality result with a mediocre development process.

FS: Where do you live? Do you feel the cultural heritage of your country affects your designs? What are the pros and cons during designing as a result of living in your country?
TDA: We live in Italy, based in Rome. Objectively, our country has a huge historical and cultural background of design. There should be a popular culture that makes it a paradise on earth for every designer, but unfortunately it is not so. Over time it has lost ground in particular in digital and the market is very difficult, we would like to be among those who sooner or later will contribute to making “made in Italy” synonymous with digital excellence.

FS: How do you work with companies?
TDA: Like all small agencies we are a family, everyone can and must have their say. This makes us a reality open to collaborations with other professionals and agencies. We have an inclusive approach, there must be collaboration and mutual contamination between different teams and professionals to create a single winning team.

FS: What are your suggestions to companies for working with a designer? How can companies select a good designer?
TDA: The first and most important suggestion we can give to companies is: trust and let yourself be guided. If you hire a professional, of any kind, to do a job for you, you must trust him and let him be able to work in the best way: your suggestions and directives are certainly important, nobody can know your company better than you, but these must not limit the work of the professional who, at that moment, cares about the good of your company as much as you want. Certainly the first way to choose a good designer is the portfolio, but not only: the approach and the working method are also a fundamental point; even the best designer in the world may not be suitable for you if he does not have an approach and / or a working method compatible with your needs.

FS: Can you talk a little about your design process?
TDA: It varies according to the type of project, but simplifying, we can say that we use a simple process and we could divide it into 3 main phases: research, development and optimization. Research is crucial and is one of the phases in which we spend the most time. The development phase ends with a first accurate prototype to be shared and discussed with the customer. Once the feedback has been collected, we proceed with the final optimization. Each phase could be deepened for hours and hours but let's say that in principle our process could be described in this way.

FS: What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?
TDA: - Dario: In the first place there is certainly my old Macbook Pro, which has accompanied me since 2011 and which, even if from several years is no longer my main computer, is always there ready to save me in case of technological disasters. Then there is definitely my graphics tablet, without it I would feel lost. Although they are not veterans like other objects, but a recent purchase, the new super-flashy mouse + keyboard couple with RGB LEDs have now entered my heart and I could never leave them. To conclude an object that will certainly not be the top of the design, my pen in the shape of a green pencil: whether it's taking notes during a brief or scribbling during a call, I must always have it on hand to be sure I can put any thought on my mind on paper... because paper is always paper! - Roberto: Among the objects for design in the first place certainly my Macbook Pro 16 "which is an extension of my body and my mind, I always carry it with me. The huge book "Logo Modernism" Taschen edition, for me, is a gold mine. Instead, among the design objects in general that I could not give up there are certainly my action figures of Iron-man Funko Pop and Batman Lego Brickheadz that are on my desk, they remind me that intelligence and constancy allow you to do great things without superpowers. The last object is a long pipe, like Gandalf's one. It is not an expensive and noble object but it has kept me company in long personal reflections on many projects. And over time each burn and dent have made it unique with an unquantifiable affective value.

FS: Can you describe a day in your life?
TDA: - Dario: Working remotely I always tend to wake up as late as possible, then a quick greeting to my furry roommate wich when I get up goes to sleep, breakfast on the fly and then I run on Skype from my colleague Roberto to find out together what wonders await us that day. The first thing we do is read the emails and decide how to set the day, then work until lunchtime; after eating something I allow myself a little relaxation with a book or a comic to take my eyes off any screen. After the lunch break, work begins again between calls, endless emails to write and projects that must always be ready ahead of schedule. At the end of the day I divide myself between the gym, love life and every now and then I can even see some friends who are now starting to doubt my existence! - Roberto: I am fortunate to often work remotely so I can usually wake up at 8 am and go outside with my dog Jimmy. I have time to have breakfast calmly to allow the brain to start gradually. Then I connect with Dario on Skype, check the emails and set the day's work. At around 1.30 pm, as in “One Hundred and One Dalmatians”, Jimmy makes me understand that it's time to go get another breath of air. If he were not there I would lose track of time and space immersed in work. At lunch I try to keep myself light and take time to get my eyes and brain recovered. Then I go back to work until the evening, I force myself to do physical activity every day to compensate for the time spent on the PC. In the evenings and weekends, I divide myself between relaxation and trying to maintain a healthy social life.

FS: Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
TDA: - Dario: Try, experiment, make mistakes. It may seem like the usual banal discourse, but if you are not wrong, it is impossible to learn: the important thing is not to be discouraged for having made a mistake, but to learn and do better the next time. - Roberto: Very difficult question, I don't know if I feel ready to give such an important advice. I can suggest that you cultivate your professionalism in the same way as your skills. The level of professionalism for me gives the thickness of the designer. For the rest I would like to quote Yoda from Star Wars "Do or do not. There is no try.”, dare with conviction and learn from your mistakes without seeking unnecessary excuses and easy loopholes.

FS: From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer?
TDA: We do a magical job, which amazes. For many of us it is a job and a passion at the same time, this certainly makes everything more beautiful. Not being understood, and being underestimated, are probably the two most negative aspects of our profession: too often digital work is combined with easy work, because "the computer does it". True, the computer is a tool that allows you to speed up a process, but to be really quick to do something, you must have spent years perfecting your skills.

FS: What is your "golden rule" in design?
TDA: During the process, combine analytical and purely technical phases with moments of exploration guided by intuition. This allows us to create something new with a solid foundation.

FS: What skills are most important for a designer?
TDA: For us, technical skills are very important but not fundamental, they can always be learned or improved. Instead intuition and vision are crucial, you cannot learn them, either you have them or you don't have them.

FS: Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?
TDA: We mainly use Adobe CC suite programs, but if necessary also Sketch or 3D modeling programs. As a source of inspiration and sharing we use a lot of Behance and Dribbble, they allow you to create collections and moodboards useful for the creative process. To manage our projects we often use Trello, it allows us to better organize the work even with freelance collaborators and agencies.

FS: What is the most frequently asked question to you, as a designer?
TDA: Numerically speaking for sure "How much does it cost?" and "It's not a difficult thing, is it?". Let's say we wish it was "Can you help me make my dream of...?"

FS: What was your most important job experience?
TDA: None in particular, each experience has left us something, even the worst. We try to treasure everything, every situation, encounter and result.

FS: Who are some of your clients?
TDA: Our best known customer is certainly Teatro Eliseo, then we had the pleasure of collaborating with freelancers and agencies for brands established at national level such as CIA - Italian farmers and INAC. But during our trip we also met many emerging national and international companies that will make the world talks about them in the coming years.

FS: What type of design work do you enjoy the most and why?
TDA: - Dario: I really like those works in which I can put into practice, in addition to technique, a good dose of imagination and creativity without limits, like when I have to design the posters with a fantastic theme for a theater improvisation company with which we have the pleasure of working since from the birth of THANATOS. - Roberto: I really enjoy the part of User Interface Design, if you have the opportunity to rely on a good analysis of UX and personas it is interesting to try to see things from the user's point of view to provide the most functional and pleasant result possible.

FS: What are your future plans? What is next for you?
TDA: We are always in constant evolution. Every year we set new goals but we believe that sometimes you have to get lost to find your way, exploring and daring are as important as planning.

FS: Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?
TDA: We are a team, we strongly believe in sharing and constructive comparison. It opens the mind to new possibilities and expands horizons that can unlock a series of insights out of reach for the narrow vision of a single person.

FS: How can people contact you?
TDA: They can contact us through our contact form on the website or by email. Or on Facebook, Instagram, Dribbble and Behance.


FS: Thank you for providing us with this opportunity to interview you.

A’ Design Award and Competitions grants rights to press members and bloggers to use parts of this interview. This interview is provided as it is; DesignPRWire and A' Design Award and Competitions cannot be held responsible for the answers given by participating designers.


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