The first moment I saw a demo reel of Esteban DiÃ¡cono's work, I could not look away. His talent in motion graphics design is undeniable. His perspective and execution is unique and surreal. And his talent has spoken for itself, sending him throughout the world to work on various projects.
The Argentina-based graphic artist got his start on his own, being mostly self-taught after receiving a burst of inspiration at a young age. Ever since, an ethic of hard work and determination has led him to become the busy and sought-after professional he is today. I had the pleasure of interviewing him in order to dive a little deeper into the perspective and work of this great artist.
What inspires you to create?
I'm inspired by many things, but if I had to choose, I would say that the human body is my main source of inspiration. The body's capabilities for motion and expressiveness are a wonder to behold and I've always been fascinated by it. I think about the lightness and grace of a classical dancer, or the power and energy displayed by a sports player and can't help being blown away by how the body can be trained, tweaked and adapted to such wide range of disciplines. Even the most mundane walk, run or dance move are marvels of equilibrium and coordination and grace, and it's fascinating how such complex effort it's a completely natural thing for people. So, based on this, I guess it's understandable that I'm always experimenting with the human form, and motion.
When did you first find a passion for graphic design?
I was in high school. My arts teacher invited her brother, a graphic designer, to give us a little 30-minute talk about his work, and I was blown away. He showed us identities, album's covers, etc. He made us see everyday things in a different way. Later on, I discovered the communication aspect of graphic design (besides the pretty graphics), and that made me even more sure that I wanted to pursue that as a career.
Are there any other arts or passions you pursue?
Unfortunately, I don't have much time to do anything else besides work, since it engulfs my whole life on a daily basis. I do enjoy many things, like riding my bycicle, reading, watch films and tv series, but these are mostly things I do to relax and recharge to go back to work the next day. I'm lucky enough that my job and my passion are the same thing.
What work are you the proudest of?
That's a difficult one. I'm always super critical, and since I'm constantly observing what other people are doing, I'm always under the impression that my work sucks most of the time.
However, I'm very fond of a couple things I've done for a few reasons. 8 years ago I did a self initiated piece, inspired by the music of an Icelandic composer, and the response to that animation was huge. According to comments and things i've heard about it, many people were touched by it, since apparently I was able to add an extra layer of emotion to it, and that's something I'm a bit proud of. Another piece I like is the one I did with my friends of Found Studio, from London. At some point in 2015 we started a conversation about how even super passionate people can grow tired and slightly bored by doing the same over and over, or working scripts or making clients feel happy and safe just by copying or adapting references. So, we decided to work together on a personal project. I flew to London and stayed there for a couple months, enjoying their company and working on this crazy piece we came up with. It was a super reinvigorating experience, and the piece turned out well, so it was all win-win.
Who or what are some of your influences?
I'm always looking at what's new in the industry. There's a ton of studios and individuals whose work fascinates me, and pushes me to learn new things and keep experimenting. I'm always repeating that I'm not an artist and that most of the things I post online (professional work aside) are basically little bread crumbs that I leave on my learning path. Last year, when Method released their Major Lazer video, or when I found the work of people like Albert Omoss or Erik Ferguson, I was blown away and instantly inspired to learn how to do these crazy things and hopefully, add a little of my own in the process.
What software and hardware do you use to create?
A few months ago I upgraded my computer, which is now a GPU rendering oriented machine. The system is brand new, so I have an i9, a few 1080ti, etc. Nothing extreme, but it's a pretty solid rig.
Regarding software, I use a ton, always depending on what I'm trying to achieve. These days my main tools are Cinema 4D and Houdini. I've been trying to learn Side Fx's insane creature for months, and I'm still scratching the surface. I don't think I've ever been this excited with a piece of software since its possibilities seem to be endless.
Your manipulations of the human body and its motion are awe-inspiring. How do you capture such realistic motion in such a surreal way?
The capture part is easy, since I use a ton of motion capture. I love mocap because it allows me to breathe life to even the most bizarre creations. And I love manipulating the bodies because I've always had a thing for surrealism and grotesque. I really like when you're confronted with something that doesn't behave in the way you would expect and your brain needs to adapt to the idea for a few seconds. People in the VFX industry have been trying for decades to get rid of the Uncanny Valley, and I've been trying to embrace it.
Do you have any advice for other graphic artists?
Do stuff. Do stuff all the time. This is a wonderful profession that allows us to reinvent ourselves every couple years if you have the curiosity. These days, with the insane amount of people consuming visual information all day long, there's enormous opportunities out there. So, do stuff, and post it somewhere. Try to get critiques. Stay motivated and inspired and curious. Experiment. The amount of fun you can have can't even be measured.
Are there any projects you are working on that we can look forward to?
A few things, yes, but I'm bound by NDAs and can't really discuss any of them. All I can say is that they're not massive Hollywood projects, but mostly fun and exciting things that I can't wait to share.
I want to thank Esteban for his time. I hope his work and words brings you inspiration. Please visit his website to stay up-to-date on his projects.
Michael Haase is a writer and novelist, with his first novel, "The Madness of Mr. Butler," was published in March 2017 after winning the Inkshares/Nerdist Space Opera contest. When he's not writing, Michael is busy being a happy father, husband, emergency room nurse, musician, poet, and generally sloppy artist. Michael dreams of keeping his life basically just as it is, but with much more time for writing and taking his family on trips around the world.