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Interview with Samantha Chijona Garcia

Home > Designer Interviews > Samantha Chijona Garcia

Editor Frank Scott (FS) from DesignPRWire has interviewed designer Samantha Chijona Garcia (SCG) for A’ Design Award and Competition. You can access the full profile of Samantha Chijona Garcia by clicking here.

Interview with Samantha Chijona Garcia at Thursday 7th of May 2020

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?
SCG: My art background is a mix of beaux-arts and music but it is also my family responsibility. My parents have work in the cinema world for years so the arts have been always part of my education. I began to study classical piano at the age of 7 and spent 11 years in a conservatory, meanwhile, I also took beaux-arts lessons. When I had to choose the university I was clear I wanted to study something related to cinema and beaux-arts. I talked with my mother so she decided to make me part of a film's staff to learn how the cinema works inside. I fell in love with art directors and costume designers' work so I decided to study scenographic and costume design. Until today, that was the best choice of my life, every new work reminds me how much I love my work.

FS: Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
SCG: I began to work like freelancer 7 years ago in small projects, but today, I have added incredible experienced and junior professionals into my team through every movie, music video, or theater play. Now, we work as a family every time I have a project and it is always good to know I have them to learn and grow together.

FS: What is "design" for you?
SCG: Design is solving problems by giving the human being a more comfortable life, it is functional art.

FS: What kinds of works do you like designing most?
SCG: I love to work as a costume designer. The research related to the psychological and historical context in every script, in every character, the use of colors, textures, fabrics, is one of the parts of the work I enjoy the most. In the preparation of the movie and even when you are rolling already you always have time to take care of the smalls details to make the characters nearest to real life, nearest to us.

FS: What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
SCG: My most favorite design it is a 1930's dress of Madeleine Vionnet. I remember at the beginning of my career, I was studying the 30s, that wonderful period which changed the woman's life, and I found Vionnet. Studying her style and pieces I discovered that white crepé dress, the material, the pattern, the elegance, all talk in a natural and complete symbiosis, making it simple but complex at the same time. The perfection was not in the dress, it was in the way all the elections of the designer get that point of beauty and functionality even when you realize you can not found relevant any aspect of the dress in an individual way. It is the merge that makes it great, spectacular, beautiful, from then to now, this has been my obsession, a good design is invisible: it is made to feel it not to notice it.

FS: What was the first thing you designed for a company?
SCG: I was in the second year of my career and It was a logo for a friend's company.

FS: What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
SCG: Favorite material: Fabric Platform: Behance technology: 3d impression.

FS: When do you feel the most creative?
SCG: I don't have a special moment of creativity, I just believe in perseverance, work every day. During the process of creation, drawing, researching, testing, fittings, etc, creativity appears and disappears, the best ideas can come in the more unexpected moment, that's why I prefer to work and let the brain breathes.

FS: Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
SCG: For me, the most important it is the functional one, even in costume design, an outfit must fulfill a task related to the character of the scene, the physical action of the characters, the historical and the personal context of each character and only after that, we can add our stamp and create.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
SCG: During the process of design, I feel peace overall, designing is a process in which I can forget all around, enjoying, drawing, letting time flies. Happiness, pride, peace, and gratitude to work in something that I really love.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
SCG: When I see one of my designs on the big screen I feel grateful to be part of one of the most beautiful worlds the man has ever created, the cinema. Also, I feel that short moment on-screen as my little contribution to creating a better world together, to share my thoughts and feelings with people around the world.

FS: What makes a design successful?
SCG: If people take a design and make it theirs, if its functionality and use become it in an object that makes our lives easier or better, then, it is a successful design.

FS: When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
SCG: The first four aspects are functionality, usability, innovation, and aesthetics.

FS: From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
SCG: A designer's obligation is to create useful and durable objects, making responsible use of the resources that nature gives us, recycling and avoiding waste.

FS: How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
SCG: The specialty of design evolves day by day, it has become an inseparable part of our life, it accompanies everything we touch, do, see and help us to travel through a better and more familiar world. With technological development, 3d printing, the discovery of new materials and the use of recycling as a fundamental element in our society, the design has also evolved, ensuring a future full of more work and involvement in our homes and societies. Design will be an increasingly strong and necessary tool in the future.

FS: Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
SCG: My cultural and inspirational background comes from a lot of different sources. I really love history, so, I read a lot and I'm always collecting images and references from the past centuries, including pictures related to beaux-arts, cinema, and architecture. Also, I,m always looking and learning from international colleagues, platforms like Behance, Linkedin or Domestika, brings to me guidelines to follow, people to admire, and works to have in mind. Those are the main inspirational sources for my work.

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?
SCG: I currently live in Madrid but I was born in Havana, Cuba, and spent all my childhood there. I left Cuba with 19 years so I consider myself a Cuban girl but I still work between Cuba and Spain, depending on the project. The influence of the Caribbean traditions, our music, our architecture, our colors, our way of living, it is something that I will carry on all my life. Of course, This heritage is an important influence on my works and my way of working. The worse and the best thing working in Cuba is the absence of materials, this forces you to focus on the aim and use what you have in your hands, reuse and recycle, it makes more difficult all the process but also more creative. After years of working between these two countries, I have developed a special trait to know how to work in the circumstances I'm into while I handling teams from different cultures.

FS: How do you work with companies?
SCG: I usually work with production teams from around the world, the key to a good relationship is to understand first what they want, that's why I always ask for a first meeting and work's references from them. After, I make a lot of research, sketches, style lines, mood boards, etc looking to find my style in the middle of what they want and the functional part of the design itself. With all the information I make proposals and we have a meeting again until the moment we find the road to transit for, just then, I begin the craftmen part of my work.

FS: What are your suggestions to companies for working with a designer? How can companies select a good designer?
SCG: 483/5000 I think that, in general, the client should risk more and listen more to the designers, in most cases the most innovative and effective designs are relegated by the client's fear of breaking the established, the classic. To hire a designer, it is essential to see their portfolio, their style, and their potential lies in their work and not in their CV. I also believe that it is important to do interviews, take into account the chemistry with the team and their ability to listen.

FS: Can you talk a little about your design process?
SCG: When I have a new project my process begins with a good coffee, after that, I read several times the script or text directors sent me before. The research about the period, the historical context, the aesthetic, colors, etc is the next step meanwhile I meet the director to see their requests and references. With all the information I make mood boards of pictures, videos, fabrics to organize all in guidelines and finally I begin to sketch the specific outfit I will need to make or which belongs to an important scene. The mood boards and sketches are discussed with Directors and cinematographers to make the modifications we need. At this time the costume design of the project has already has born.

FS: What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?
SCG: The best 5 designs items in my home are: First: A Window, my room window has a special system to open it, letting a big hole in which I could see the entire clean view without interference. Second: Rocking chair. I have an antique rocking chair from the beginning of the 20th century which I use to read, I love the chair lines and wood, it is comfortable and useful. Third: Ballet shoes. I have a pair of old ballet shoes framed. The beauty of use and aged materials became the object in something fragile, but the design itself is wonderful. Fourth: Memo notepads. I always have with me a classical yellow memo notepad, it is a very useful object that I use or to work every day and replace in every new project. Fifth: The black dress. This special and simple black dress all woman have in her closet, I have it, I use it to my first meeting with directors, my script readings and my conferences and always cause a great impression.

FS: Can you describe a day in your life?
SCG: When I'm not rolling I wake up early, the first thing I do es to take a long cup of coffee while rechecking my memo notepad with the list of the daily tasks, after that, I go to the park with my dog. When I return around 9:00 am I go directly to my little workspace and begin to work in the priority tasks. I take 1 hour of lunch and with a long cup of coffee, I keep working. Sometimes I read the entire day, sometimes I look for references and sketches, studying and researching styles, other times I sew or work on the mannequin, and quite often I have to dye or aged clothing. My hours of works depending on the project, in most cases ones I'm inside the preparation I couldn't count the hours I spent on it.

FS: Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
SCG: I'm 28 years old so I consider myself a young designer, but for upcoming designers and young people desiring to study design, I want to tell them that for me, the key is to work day by day, always asking themselves to do it better, rechecking and rethinking, asking people, taking criticism like a way to learn. We work for the people, not for ourselves.

FS: From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer?
SCG: Being a designer is a wonderful gift, for me, it is one of the more beautiful professions in the world. You are in touch with everything surrounding human beings, from a simple floor to a big-screen movie. The main positive thing about being a designer is found a way to become daily life and objects in art pieces, keeping and improving its original function, and making our lives simplest. The worse part is that people still don’t recognize the importance of designers in our world, and it is difficult to gain recognition and respect for our work or to have good salaries.

FS: What is your "golden rule" in design?
SCG: Do so many tests as you can.

FS: What skills are most important for a designer?
SCG: For me, the main skill to have and to develop is the observation and analysis, to feel through your eyes all the qualities, materials, textures, proportions surrounded us. It is very important also the good use of colors and shapes and the phycology behind them, resuming in human perception. I also value drawing a lot, It is a way to feed creativity and land everything we have imagined before.After those ones, every designer has his own book.

FS: Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?
SCG: During my design process, I make a lot of research, so I use platforms like Pinterest, Getty, and Google images to make mood boards with information. Ones I finished the research I begin to draw, making sketches, during this process, it is essential to have color pencils, watercolors, and cardboard. I digitalize all the draws for after making little changes and retouched them in Photoshop. To finalize the design proposal I lay out everything in an Indesign document to present to the client.

FS: Designing can sometimes be a really time consuming task, how do you manage your time?
SCG: When I have a project first I ask for the deadlines and always try to put my deadlines before the clients one, to have time between both. I organize the days I have in a calendar and I gave priority to some tasks looking for to don't lose time or the idea of how many days I still have and I make a list of tasks in my memo notepad every day at the end of the day. I try to rest, go to bed early, and to have 20 minutes walks with my dog when I feel blocked.

FS: How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?
SCG: There is no time defined for the design process, it depends on the deadline of the client and the type of work. The preparation of a movie could take months, but an advertisement spot could take one week or one month a theater play.

FS: What is the most frequently asked question to you, as a designer?
SCG: People frequently ask about the design process I follow.

FS: What was your most important job experience?
SCG: Until now I consider Chanel Cruise Runway in Cuba in 2016 my most important job experience. I was part of the Art team in this huge project.

FS: Who are some of your clients?
SCG: Some of my clients are directors like Rodrigo and Sebastian Barriuso, Félix Viscarret, Olivier Assayas, Fernando Perez, Joseph Ros, etc. Production teams like: Tornasol Films, Bohemian films, Chanel, CG Cinema,TESAURO S.A, Division Q Spain for clientes like Netflix, Movistar Plus,Citroen, Puleva, Loteria Primitiva, Ausonia, Vodafone, among others.

FS: What type of design work do you enjoy the most and why?
SCG: I love the art direction and Costume design related to movies, music clips, and theater. I enjoy seeing the elections of fabrics and colors, textures, furniture, spaces, flowers, all coming from a deep study of the project period and the historical and cultural heritage of the place which is represented. The symbiosis of the historical truth, the psychology of the characters with the creativity of the designers, and the aim of directors made born a new reality, beautiful, poetical, and different, it is still a truth but it is so much enjoyable.

FS: What are your future plans? What is next for you?
SCG: I want to enroll myself in bigger international projects, I will love to work in an English or French Tv series or movie to learn how they work and how a wardrobe team is organized there. Also, I will love to work in Canada or the USA because they have a completely different way to do cinema and TV. I want to grow up like a designer but also like a wardrobe team assistant, everything I learn like part of a team it is something new to make me the best designer.I want to enroll myself in bigger international projects, I will love to work in an English or French Tv serie or movie to learn how they work and how a wardrobe team is organized there.

FS: Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?
SCG: I'm Costume designer, in this field, the process begins alone, the designer read the script, research, study, draw, sketch, has meetings with directors and cinematographers and after the team begins to work with him. So in the first moment I work alone and after my wardrobe team joins me, but in any case, I'm always surrounded by producers, directors, assistants directors, etc, always working in the team bigger: the movie staff.

FS: How can people contact you?
SCG: They can find me and contact me through Behance, Linkedin, or Instagram like Samantha Chijona.


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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