Buenos Aires-based design savant Fer Travaglini has been stealing a lot of time recently—minutes, to be exact.
Like a temporal bandit or an aesthetically-minded Robin Hood, Fer has been reclaiming time and redistributing his wealth in minutes for the sake of innovative design for The Stealing Project, a daily 3D poster exercise using minutes stolen from his day.
An increasingly provocative and prolific body of work, The Stealing Project is demonstrative of Fer’s exceeding abilities and knowledge as a designer, but is particularly evocative for the rigorous conceptual considerations it broaches on time as an indicator of success and daily practice.
First, a little background. Tell me about yourself! How did you get into design?
I began designing websites when I was 16 years old, using Paint and Adobe Dreamweaver. I actually didn’t realize that what I was doing was “design” until a few years ago.
I studied graphic design at Universidad de Buenos Aires—I wasn't a really good student—but while studying, I started working in graphic and motion design.
I think it was then that I fell in love with what I do. I worked for many graphic design studios and post-production companies, and became specialized in motion graphics while learning the tools that I use today.
The word “steal” is so provocative; it implies this sense of agency that hinges on eventually being “caught”. How, and when, did this notion of “stealing” minutes to facilitate design work arise?
I started thinking about time and its implications about 9 months ago when I became a father and started on a new job. I was feeling pretty exhausted and didn’t have time for myself because of work and my newborn baby. So, I decided to reclaim some of that time.
The word “steal” just came up as a strike of luck, maybe, I don’t know. I love the concept because it is quite strong—it evokes the idea of a silent revolution, millions of people just stealing time for themselves, reclaiming what is rightfully theirs.
I love that. So, who exactly are you stealing from?
To be honest, I don’t steal from anybody. I just reorganize my priorities and chores to make some time to create something beautiful every day. If I have some free time at work I don’t check my Facebook, I make a poster. I try to be super efficient because I must make a poster!
This is a great project to work on to improve consistency and perseverance—attributes I lack—and I encourage every designer to start one.
Absolutely. You’ve created this interesting relationship between time and design output which reveals the mystery of “how long did that take?” and the factor of time as being conducive to “good”. In fact, you have even incorporated this measurement into the design itself! Does the temporal restraint, or “metering” if you will, effect how you approach design? Time?
Yes, of course it does. When I´m in a rush I go to formulas that I know work and stay in my “comfort zone”. Or, sometimes my time is up and the poster remains unfinished—but only for me, of course.
If I have the time I often use a new tool, or a software feature I’ve never used before. I truly love learning.
But I believe there is no real relation between time and “good”. That amazes me. There are some posters that only took 20 minutes to make and people love them, and other posters that took 3 hours and have 100 likes or so—assuming that we are measuring “good” on “amount of Instagram likes”. I find pretty interesting that some posters that I really hated received good comments or reviews. Taste is not unanimous.
"I believe there is no real relation between time and “good”. That amazes me. Taste is not unanimous."
I thought a minute was the right time unit to use because I realized that some posters could take less than an hour to make, but certainly no more than two or three. And there was also an underlying design reason. Minutes provided me with a manageable character length for the counter to be introduced in the poster layout, as opposite to the use of seconds.
These posters range from tributes to famous cricket players, to band albums, breakfast items, artful abstractions, typography, word definitions, and architectural renderings. How do you arrive at content? Who, or what, inspires you?
Content just pops up. Sometimes I´m just walking and thinking about what to do next and take my inspiration out of reality. Or sometimes I’m just navigating the web and see an image that I love and think, “I want to work with cloth like that!”
And that´s it. I go to Cinema 4D and I start playing with cloth until something comes up—concept usually comes later. Something in the image will trigger it, or I go to a random Wikipedia page and choose a phrase or a name for a tribute poster. When I´m in a rush I kinda recycle stuff that I´m working on for my company (shh, it is a secret!) and restyle it and make it my own.
How does this project situate itself in your practice? Has it altered or improved your aesthetic inclinations or process at all?
I believe it has! I am more aware of what I do and don’t like, but I don’t think it has evolved into an exact style. I see it as a shifting project since I basically do what I feel like. It has definitely improved my skills—I am quite confident with Cinema 4D now.
What is the significance of the poster as the final format for these designs? Do you foresee these taking on another collective format?
The format is just an excuse, so I think it can evolve to something else when I get bored.
I have always been attracted to the poster though; a strong image, a few words, well-designed type, a beautiful and simple concept.
What sort of programs are you using to produce these works? Are there any new softwares that you have begun using since starting this project?
I mostly use Cinema 4D, Photoshop and Illustrator. I use After Effects for composition and poster animation, or to add an adjustment layer with a François Tarlier lens distortion—my favorite plugin ever.
The company I work for bought Octane so I´m learning how to use it and how to improve my skills at it. I tried Houdini a few times but is way too complex. I´m going for Substance Designer next.
How long do you intend to keep this up? do you have any plans for the stealing project to evolve?
I intend to make 365 posters. Not that this project is about making a poster a day, but that's the goal I set and I intend to keep it.
When completed…who knows? I’ll probably start over.