Myles Mendoza is a super talented graphic designer from San Diego, and one of 3 who form HRO Design, an agency who work on logo and brand identity design for some of the worlds biggest entertainment brands including Marvel, Disney, Star Wars, Hasbro, Warner Bros and many more! On this weeks episode Ian chats with Myles to discover how he became a designer, how he landed (and lost) his dream design job, how HRO design was formed, how they get such incredible clients, his logo design process and so much more.
…and here’s images of the sales book discussed in the interview! (It’s so freaking awesome!)
Myles Mendoza Interview Transcription
Myles Mendoza: Before I even got into design, I originally wanted to be an architect when I was probably a senior in high school, like I took drafting and I really thought it was fun to kind of design layouts of houses and foundations and stuff. But when I kind of looked into how much math you really need to know for architecture, I was like, “Ooh, I’m going to pass because I’m terrible at math”. But I knew that I wanted to do some kind of art because I’ve been sketching since I was a little kid. I used to draw logos in my notebooks just because I thought it was fun and it would be logos like my favourite skateboard brands, and I actually used to if I would, my dad would get me a toy or something. It’s so weird, but I would actually cut out the logo of the toy and just keep it for whatever reason. Like I had no … I just thought it was cool and fast forward to today, it’s so funny that that’s what I ended up being in the industry for.
But yeah, so my first semester in college I took a very basic design course, kind of opened my eyes to what Photoshop was. Falling semester I started taking Illustrator, at the same time I got a job at a Silk Screen Company just doing kind of just basic T-shirt graphics for customers that wanted to come in have like a saying on a shirt. So, for about a month straight when I started that job, that was eight hours of or it’d be like two hours of school, followed by eight hours of work and then I’d come home for another two, three hours and design cause I had just gotten into it and it was so fascinating to me and I was just so fascinated with Illustrator when I kind of had that epiphany of like, “Oh, this is what, you know, people use to make logos”. I was like, “Dude, you know, what can I make, you know?”
So I worked for the Silk Screen Company for about four years and then towards the end of me being at the community college, I got an internship with an actual design agency and they specialised in like skateboard graphics, motocross helmets, toy logo’s, pretty much anything and everything and when I saw those I was like, “Wow, this like, I want to do this kind of work”. So, unfortunately I had a pretty shitty portfolio at the time, but as most of us do and we’re starting out, but for whatever reason, they saw something in my work. I interned for three months, got hired after three months on kind of a part-time basis and then shortly after, I worked there for three years full time. Then after three years, there was two owners of that company and there was about nine designers total.
After I had been over there, they had been in business for a while but, the two owners didn’t really agree on just several different things and so they actually dissolved the company. So I was kind of like, “Wow, I have this dream job and now I’m kind of back to square one”, and it wasn’t like I had a lot of experience doing freelance work cause I was so focused on being in an actual studio and doing really fun projects like that. So for me, I was like, “Damn, you know, what am I going to do right now? I’ve got to figure out how to either get another job real quick or figure out this freelance thing”.
Fortunately, one of the owners who’s my boss now, he came to me and my coworker Raul and said, “Hey, it kind of sucks the way that went down. I didn’t want it to be like that, but I actually want to start another studio here in San Diego” and I was like, “Yeah”. I was like, “Let’s talk about it”. So we talked about what we wanted to do, type of work we wanted to do and it was pretty much history after that and four years later here we are cranking out tons of work and just having fun and getting into all kinds of shenanigans.
Ian Paget: Wow. What an amazing story. Obviously a scary time that the business collapsed, but it’s really cool to hear that a few of you how I assume, was probably the best of the team anyway, could band together to create a really cool company. It’s awesome.
Myles Mendoza: Thanks. Yeah, I appreciate that. Yeah, it was definitely scary time. I mean, I’ve heard some other people tell stories that I personally feel are far scarier than mine, but I mean, it’s pretty scary feeling when you find out that day like, “Oh, by the way, you don’t have a job anymore”. You’re just kind of like, “Well, that sucks”.
Ian Paget: Yeah, yeah it really does. I’m glad it worked out well for you. Anyway, one of the big topics I’d love to talk about if you’re able to. At HRO, you guys are working with some really big names. I mean we’re talking Hasbro, Marvel, Disney, Star Wars. I’m a big Star Wars fan myself and I could see that you guys are too. So this client list, I can see it’s your basically the clients of your dreams. So how were you guys, and we’re talking just three of you, how are you able to attract all of these big companies?
Myles Mendoza: Well, so first of all, may the force be with you. Yeah, I’m a huge Star Wars fan and glad to hear that you are too. Shout out, by the way, shout out to Jonathan from Logo Inspirations, that’s the homie. But, so when I worked the first studio I worked at, which actually, Raul worked there too. So that’s kind of how I knew him. So Raul and I had been working together for seven years, but when I worked for that studio, we had some of those clients, like I was already doing, we were working on projects for Hasbro and Hot Wheels and Barbie and Star Wars projects and stuff. When we started this new studio, we had some of those same contacts to kind of build off of, but on the other hand it was like, well, we still have to find new clients to build up what we have and just to kind of expand and really try to establish ourselves. So, fortunately we did have some contacts previously, but it was really cool actually, the first big client that we had when we started HRO, and we actually got this client before we had even moved into a new office was Nickelodeon.
Ian Paget: Wow.
Myles Mendoza: I was like, “Dude”, like I had never thought I would be doing Nickelodeon stuff and so it was…
Ian Paget: Okay. I think we need to know how that happened because like you said, the previous agency that you worked at clearly worked with some of these big names already and you did have some contacts. Were you able to show them any of the work that you did at that previous agency to get that job? But what, I mean, it’d be really good if you could talk through how that happened.
Myles Mendoza: Yeah, we were able to show previous work that we had done and so when the two owners kind of split ways and Hill started HRO, Hill is my boss now. He was already kind of in talks with I think doing this project for Nickelodeon which ended up being the package design for the second Ninja Turtles Movie, the live action.
So he had already been in contact with him about doing that in the middle of that project being accepted was when the company closed. So, it kind of had already started to gain some traction and then the company closed and closed up shop, but Hill was still in contact with them and so we were like, “Yeah, we’re super down into this project. Let us find a studio first to work at.” It was like, but so fortunately-
Ian Paget: I guess they were actually aware that the company had closed down and you guys just started up on your own. I guess they were aware of that situation.
Myles Mendoza: Yeah. So we … They had been notified that some changes were happening and so that of course-
Ian Paget: It’s cool they were able to go along with it and understand the whole situation is amazing.
Myles Mendoza: Totally. No, totally and I give it up to the people that we worked with, which one of the guys actually we worked with, his name’s Anthony Petrie. I don’t know if you’ve seen his work, his tag is a ZombieBacons on Instagram?
Ian Paget: I’m not familiar with him myself, but what I would do is in the show notes for this, all of the names that you mentioned, what I’ll do is I’ll link to their website. So anyone that’s listening to this, they can go and check out in the work and I’ll make sure to do that after this as well.
Myles Mendoza: Okay. Yeah, cool. Yeah, solid, solid Illustrator and he was providing the art direction on that project and so it was kind of cool to work with him and we’ve seen him over the years at Comic Con and he designs a lot of the Nickelodeon displays that are at Comic Con, like the physical things that you walked through, really cool. But aside from that, yeah, so fortunately we were able to get that project going and they trusted us that we knew what we were doing cause we did. It was a little bit of a time period where we were like, “Man, we got into”, just kind of an introductory studio, super small at the time but we just kind of needed somewhere to put our computers and just to start. I think about a month later, we … What was it? We got a job with MTV to do a style guide for a TV show called the Shannara Chronicles, which I think has been canceled. But at the time it was kind of big time, and I’ll just kind of preface this.
I’d say most of the work that we do is all through reference. It’s all kind of through word of mouth and a lot of the work that we show on our website is stuff that we want to work on. I think you had mentioned that on one of the other podcasts you about, it’s really important to show the kind of work that you want to do and that’s exactly what we do. We love the industry that we’re in and so, I think that’s how we’re able to attract bigger clients now, such as like we work with Warner Brothers. Who else we doing work for? We just did some work for HMH, which was a new rebrand of Carmen San Diego, which is kind of a big popular brand back in the 80’s and 90’s and it’s on Netflix now which is cool.
Ian Paget: Can I ask you, in terms of the work that you’re showing to attract the type of client you want, can you give an example of something that you’ve done to do that?
Myles Mendoza: I think … So, yes, we actually did some work for Hasbro, for GI Joe, which was I think initially we kind of did some pro bono work just to kind of … They asked us to see what … It was kind of a specific style which I can’t dive too deep into the specifics of the project…
Ian Paget: Yeah, I understand.
Myles Mendoza: But I will say that they kind of asked us, “Hey, are you guys able to do this type of style of project?” And we’re like, “Yeah, totally. You know, let us show you”. So we basically kind of put like a little guide together where we explored icons, badges type, utilising those specific style they’re asking for and fortunately we were able to get that project just by doing that. So yeah, sometimes it does kind of require a little bit of trust on both ends of like hopefully we’re not doing this and it’s something that won’t be used. But, I’d say a lot of the times when we would do stuff like that, it does turn into a project just because we are able to do that stuff. I will say too, it is kind of nice that clients do ask us instead of assuming like, “Oh, you know, they just do toy logos. They probably couldn’t do this, you know, super gnarly illustration style”. No, we can kind of do it all.
It is kind of nice when they at least ask, “Do you think you guys can handle something like this?” And we’re like, “Yeah, for sure”.
Ian Paget: Yeah. Cool. Can I ask as well, when you are going to these, toy festivals, for example, you’re obviously specifically targeting toys almost as a niche, or things relevant to things that you’ve done in the past. How are you approaching these shows to get potential clients?
Myles Mendoza: Yeah, so we kind of have a different design books that we’ve kind of put together, just like a curation of different projects that we’ve worked on, and so we tend to meet up and show face and shake hands with people that we’ve worked with, but it’s also an opportunity to meet new clients.
Fortunately, that’s been kind of good for us because it kind of solidifies the relationships that we have with the people that we work with because I think a big part of that too is a lot of … I think a lot of people would, when you talk about companies like Hasbro or Mattel or Nickelodeon, you tend to think of these companies, they are multimillion, multibillion dollar companies, but the people that work there are people. They are people just like you and me and so, it’s kind of nice when you actually get to talk to them and just go have a beer, go have dinner with them or something and just talk about stuff not really related to work. It just kind of grounds everything and so that’s kind of what our approach is, just to kind of say like, “Hey, what’s up? How’s everything going? How’s the show? You know, good to see you guys”, type of thing and it’s … You’d be surprised, like that does go a long way and I think it’s … Yeah.
Ian Paget: Yeah, that’s really cool. Definitely a nice approach. You guys are probably in the best place for that type of thing, especially with Comic-Con you shared where I can imagine that you’re finding a lot of work too.
Myles Mendoza: Yeah. Comic-Con is definitely fun. I would say it’s not so much like finding work at Comic-Con, cause most people go there just to have a good time and see the show.
Ian Paget: Yeah. You just like going as a movie fan.
Myles Mendoza: Yeah, and we go, I mean fortunately for us, because we are a studio, we have … We get to go for free.
Ian Paget: Yeah. Wow.
Myles Mendoza: Yeah. So we get to go every year. We usually go for a couple of days and I would go on the weekend with a couple of my friends or something. But, yeah, those are always fun. We always look forward to go into Comic-Con for sure.
Ian Paget: Amazing. Can I just ask you, as why you meant to know about this book thing that you take to trade shows when you go, is that like some kind of brochure that you can hand out to them or are you actually getting like a proper book full of examples of work that you’ve done?
Myles Mendoza: No, it’s like an actual book. Yeah. So, you can’t see it but I’m kind of holding one in front of me which we just …
Ian Paget: It might be worth taking a photo, if you can. If you don’t mind taking a photo and send it over, I can put one in the show notes for the episode. I’d love to see myself.
Myles Mendoza: For sure. Yeah, totally. Yeah, I’ll make sure to do that. But, yeah, so it’s pretty much a … It’s kind of like a booklet. I mean, we’re kind of … We’ve talked about putting together like a legit hard back, fully done up like hero book of like a big collection of our work. But we have like these fun smaller booklets, which are … We have one that’s pretty tiny, it’s like three by five and then the other one is, I think this one’s like six by nine or something and it’s small enough where you could carry it around and put it in a backpack, but it’s also big enough where you actually get to see a good amount of the work. It basically just showcases some of our favourite projects that we’ve worked on and some of them are recent, some of them are older.
But we just kind of approach it as this is the type of stuff that we really enjoy and the type of work that we want to continue to do. We kind of give an example of anything and everything regarding that type of style and we kind of give them out. We have usually a bunch of, I think we ordered like 250 of these or 300 of these. But we give them out to clients that already know we do that type of work just to say like, “Oh, here’s some other stuff we’ve been working on that was really fun” and it’s also good to give them to people that don’t know who you are because, essentially that’s the kind of people that you want to attract is just more clients.
So that’s, yeah. So our approach is we like to design these books to showcase what we enjoy doing and we do it in a way where we show our process. It shows … You will see, I’m actually going to send you one.
Ian Paget: Wow. Thank you.
Myles Mendoza: But it showcases sketch work to simple colour vectoring to like actual, like 3D rendered logo in like cinema 4D.
Ian Paget: Brilliant. That sounds amazing. So, yeah, thank you. I’m really looking forward to seeing that, and for those of you who are listening, what I’ll do, is I’ll make sure to include photos in the show notes so that you can see what we’re talking about.
Myles Mendoza: Sure. Yeah. That sounds great.
Ian Paget: Cool. I think since you just briefly mentioned about process, that scenario that I’d really like to properly discuss with you. I know that you guys do a lot of logo design work, so could you talk through your logo design process from start to finish and if possible, get into the really nitty gritty details?
Myles Mendoza: Absolutely. Yeah. So, I’ll take … I’m just trying to think of a project for it. Well, I guess it’s kind of pretty much all our logo projects are relatively the same. But it starts with the client approaches us with kind of an idea of what they want and every project we do, we always begin by … They usually give us kind of a brief, or at least the toy companies we work with always have to provide a brief. But we’ll get a brief of the project, we ask them questions like, “Do you want this to feel more aggressive? Do you want it to feel more playful? Do you want…”
We primarily start out with sketch work unless they ask for otherwise. But the process is we’ll kind of pull mood boards for different styles to look for unless they already have a specific one they want. But we’ll put mood boards together, send it to them. Say like, “Hey, what do you like on this page? Like, what do you like about? You know, do you like the type on this one, do you like that this logo is sheared, do you like the colouring of this?-
Ian Paget: So that mood-boarding, are you pulling out different examples of work that you’ve done in the past or things that you found online or actually sharing potential logos that you saw just to get kind of look and fell across?
Myles Mendoza: Just kind of collection. We have a … Raul has kind of curated a huge, huge reference folder. I mean literally broken down into folders of this folder is all tight. This folder is all like 3D type. This folder is logo type styles. This logo … This folder is flat load and so we kind of have an idea based on the project of what we want it to look like. We’ve pulled reference from, Dribble is a big one that we pull references from. A lot of the designers and illustrators that I follow, sometimes I’ll see something cool and I’ll be like, “Oh, that, I wonder if, you know, if they’re looking for something similar to that or if there’s something in there, you know, that maybe the client’s referencing or something”.
We try to get them to give us as much info as possible just so that we’re not taking a shot in the dark, which we have done several times. We kind of just throw something at the wall and hope it sits.
Ian Paget: I think we all have.
Myles Mendoza: For sure and there’s … Yeah. It’s a bummer too when you end up creating like five or six comps and then they’re like, “Yeah, this isn’t what we were thinking”. You’re like, “Well, what were you thinking?” Like, “Just give us something”. But, yeah, so it starts with … We’ll throw some mood boards together, they’ll come back, give us feedback, we’ll start a sketch process and Raul and I will sketch anything from like, I don’t know, like five to 12 different sketches of logos just to kind of get something in from there.
Ian Paget: So that sketching process, are you actually presenting sketches to the client?
Myles Mendoza: Yes.
Ian Paget: Wow. I’ve never done that type of thing myself. I’ve always been concerned that the client can visualise it in sketch form. I guess what you are all doing, I think when clients approach you, they seem to have something quite specific in mind, especially based on your portfolio. So it makes sense for the nature of the projects to actually take that approach.
Myles Mendoza: Yeah, no, for sure. It kind of helps to just weed out ideas that they’re totally off the map, you know?
Ian Paget: Yeah.
Myles Mendoza: Because like I said, the work that we show on our site, it’s pretty much finished work, approved work and you can kind of see what it is. So I think the majority of the clients that come to us, they look at our website, they know our style, they know that we can execute it and so we will ask them or preface it with, “Hey, what do you think of, you know, showing you sketches for round one” and a lot of the times they’re like, “Yeah, that sounds good”. But sometimes they do require black and white or sometimes they’ll be like, “No, we need like four fully done concepts” or something like that. It’s kind of a mix, it depends on the project, but it usually starts with mood boards, sketches, black and white vectors, and then coloured versions after that.
Ian Paget: Amazing. It’s interesting to hear how different people work because I’ve … A lot of the things I do are quite corporate. So in terms of presenting sketches, I would never actually do that. But knowing the type of work that you guys do, I totally understand that. So I mean, in terms of presenting sketches, are you actually explaining to the client at the beginning that that’s what they’re going to get at that first stage and in these situations where you said that they want like fully rendered versions, is that because they kind of come back and said, “No, we don’t want to see sketches”. Are you letting the client guide the aspect of that?
Myles Mendoza: Yeah, no, for sure. Because we kind of start the project in with the understanding that we want to give them something that they can grasp onto right away.
Ian Paget: Yeah.
Myles Mendoza: Some people can see past sketch and visualise that, but a lot of people can’t and so for the people that can’t, that’s why we ask like, “Hey, are you cool with seeing sketches first just so we can knock out some ideas?” Some people are like, “Ah, you know, can I see black and white vectors first?” And we’re like, “All right, cool”. It doesn’t really matter to us. I mean, we prefer to sketch first but … Also depending on the project, I know for me myself, I do sketch, but Raul is a sketch wizard. Like I think I mentioned it in Jonathan’s podcast, but he sketches stuff that you like and he does it so fast, like so fast and like the concepts he comes up with, they’re all good. I’m like, “Dude, they could choose any of these and they would work”. Like honestly, he’s so good.
But I definitely sketch too, but I think majority, I’d say probably 60% of the time I will just go straight to Illustrator cause if I kind of have it in my head, I know what it’s going to look like and I’m like I could probably build this out a lot faster in Illustrator than sitting and sketching.
Ian Paget: Yeah, I understand. I just want to ask as well, in terms that the sketches, obviously what you’re properly presenting the sketches of quite finished looking work. Is there a process prior to that? Because, I mean, I’ve seen some of the sketches in a video that was on your website and it kind of looked like they just come out good every time straight away. But a lot of my … When I’m working in a sketchbook, I scribble like I would never want anyone to see that cause it’s just, I’m just brainstorming pretty much. Are you guys still doing that brainstorming process or always, I don’t know if this is the right way to explain it, but are you talented enough to actually just render something out as a sketch and it just looks perfect enough to show your client?
Myles Mendoza: I, well … See, I don’t want to sound too arrogant. Like majority of the time, yes we’re able to create a sketch that is pretty much going to be what the final is going to be. The reason for that and trust me there, there are a lot of sketches that we don’t show because Raul and I will literally … I mean we have scribbles too, just like you were saying. I mean literally stuff that takes maybe five seconds just to get a basic shape of what this thing could look like and then we are like, “Okay-
Ian Paget: Yeah. So I guess normally you would do those quick sketches and then actually further improve on that and that’s what you don’t actually show the client.
Myles Mendoza: Right. Yeah. I mean we definitely try to show them as many sketches as possible because we know it’s all going to get whittled down. But for, let’s say we’re showing like eight sketches that our logo concepts, there’s probably another eight behind those that you’re not seeing.
Ian Paget: Yeah, sure.
Myles Mendoza: Just that are, “Let’s get this out of the way. Just this isn’t going to work, so we’re not going to show that” and I will actually say, good example of this too is when we do packaging design where it’s like a blister card, like an action figure toy. It’s in like … Has the plastic wrap. When Raul and I start designing concepts for that, we always start with sketches pretty much every time and we will start with sketches that are very fast and we will basically just kind of start with a rectangle and start adding angles, start adding cuts, start adding fun dielines and that’s literally how the finished product will end up being based on which one they pick and we will actually present sketches of dielines and stuff for packaging. We’ll present those to the clients just so that they can kind of say like, “We like the shape of this. This shape is a little too wide, this shape is way too expensive for us to make.”
That’s a huge factor too is, when we do packaging design, it’s a real challenge of how do you make this look really cool and dynamic, but also have it be kind of cost effective for the toy companies where they could actually produce something like this. It’s a challenge, but it’s a fun challenge.
Ian Paget: One last thing on the line of sketches. There was a video on your … On the HRO website and I noticed that there was one point when one of you did a sketch and then another person finished off in Illustrator. Is there a particular reason why on a project like that that you’d have two people work on the project, work on two different parts of that project?
Myles Mendoza: Time restraints is definitely a part of it. But the other part of it is, like I said, Raul and I worked together for seven years and we have a pretty solid workflow. Like I know everything he’s going to show is solid, but we definitely have our own personal strengths when it comes to styles and so, I think that was the colour shifters project was what you’re talking about. Like I said, Raul can knock out concepts super quick and so for him, I think on that particular project, I think he was already kind of handling another project on his own. So it was more efficient and quicker for him to just sketch out the concept and I said, “All right, I’ll vector this thing out”.
But there’s also times when I’d vector something out and it’s flat colour and, it happens to all of us but I might get in a block or creative block and I’m like, “Dude, I just, for whatever reason, like, you know, I can’t visualise”. Like the colour style or what the shines, ingredients should look like and I’d give it to Raul and he’d be like, “All right, cool” and he’ll kind of put his twist on it and it’s usually ends up working out pretty, pretty well like that. I know that might sound kind of unorthodox to people because a lot of people want to own their own stuff and say like, “I created that, that’s all me” and they want to feel proud that they carried all the way through. But, I don’t necessarily think Raul and I see it like that when we create stuff, we just see it as a win if it gets approved and if we actually get to see it in the real world, then obviously we’re doing something right.
It’s also kind of fun because there’s a lot of projects that him and I have done that’s pretty much cool art work. Like, “Yeah, I vectored it, he coloured it” or vice versa and we just kind of give each other a fist bump, like “Solid, knocked it off”. So …
Ian Paget: I think that leads on nicely to my next question because I understand that as a team, that you push each other to basically stay on the top of your game. Is there anything specific that you’re doing to always make sure that you’re just outputting the absolute best work that you can?
Myles Mendoza: Yeah. I mean, I’m guilty of kind of staying in a zone sometimes, I think a lot of us are. You get comfortable in a certain style and it’s your comfort zone. But I think for us, I myself, I’m pretty proficient in Illustrator and Photoshop, Illustrator more so and so is Raul. But, even though I’ve been doing this for a long time and so is he, I still ask him questions every day. Like, “What do you think of this? Which colour do you like more? Do you like the warp on this type? You know, do you think this little cut going through the E is cool or is it too much?” He does the same thing. Like he’ll be like, “Which one do you like?” So we constantly are just kind of checking each other just to make sure the stuff that we’re doing looks the absolute best that they can before it gets sent off.
The other thing too is, like I said, he does pull a lot of reference of stuff and he’ll kind of call me over to his desk and be like, “Hey, check out like this, this cool texture or something. Like I found this, I think this would be cool for this next project” and I’ll be like, “Yeah, for sure”. We try to make sure that what we’re doing is definitely on par with what the client wants and whether that be using a specific texture style or working type a certain way or using a certain type face, Sans-serif over like a slab serif. I mean, it’s all kind of dives into the specifics. But I would say, making sure that what we are making doesn’t look dated would be the primary thing is cause you know, you can use different styles but you want to make sure it looks like it exists today. I mean, unless they ask for something that looks retro, I mean that’s cool too.
But yeah, there’s definitely a lot of back and forth of communication, which I think is a huge, huge part of why the things that we work on end up looking the way they do, is just cause there’s a lot of filters that go through it before the final product actually gets out there.
Ian Paget: Yeah, and again, that actually leads nicely to my next question. Prior to the interview, I made sure to watch everything else that you’ve done and I know that you … There was a video that you did for Logo Inspirations and in that you mentioned that you’re frequently trying new techniques to like learn and improve. Can I ask how you are going about doing that type of thing? Are you watching tutorials? Are you just finding an example like you just mentioned online or wherever you found it and then just trying to replicate it in some way?
Myles Mendoza: Yeah, I’m definitely trying to replicate things kind of helps me learn and trust me, there’s a line between replicating and copying and I definitely stay away from the copying. But it’s … Even when I was starting out as a designer, I didn’t know necessarily the proper way to build a logo, but the way I learned it was I took a logo from the Internet and I plopped it in Illustrator and I redesigned on top of it. By doing that, I kind of learned how to build shapes, how to understand spacing in between certain objects, what’s the proper kerning between type. That’s kind of how part of myself taught … Is that proper way to say it? I guess.
Ian Paget: Yeah. I know what you mean.
Myles Mendoza: Is kind of how I taught … Yeah, kind of how I taught myself at the beginning of all that and so some of that is kind of the same thing today where if there’s a specific thing where I’m just like, “Dude, why didn’t, why does that work?” Like it looks good, but why. I’d kind of practice on top of a piece of type or something like that. But I also try to look for references on like I said, Dribbble or something. I’m on Instagram a lot and I follow a lot of different designers and illustrators and I just drool over the stuff that they do and it’s cool because, we’re all kind of … We are all in the graphic design industry, but there’s so many different things that all of us do and … Are you familiar with DKNG? I would assume-
Ian Paget: I’m not, no. But again, I’ll link to the show notes.
Myles Mendoza: Yeah, definitely check them out. Those dudes are amazing. Yeah, Dan and Nate. I actually met Dan at a Designer Con a few months back and super cool guy. I think to me, Nathan, unfortunately I think he was busy with a talk or something, but it was funny, I actually got to talk to him because they do a lot of poster work, a lot of illustration and stuff for bands like well known bands too. So I talked to him and I was talking about kind of the stuff that we do and he was just like, “Oh yeah, I do like, no, I’ve seen your guys’ is like your logo work. Like it’s so fun, I would love to do a project like that” and I’m like, “Dude, are you kidding? Like, I would love to do a poster project”. So it’s funny that in their own, our different respects that, I very much enjoy the work I do, but I would love to do different types of work as well and it goes vice versa with other people.
Ian Paget: Yeah. I think everyone would like that. Yeah.
Myles Mendoza: Yeah, and so, honestly I think that it’s kind of a fun way to network with people because you just kind of appreciate each other’s work. When I look at kind of the way that they build out their halftone stuff for print, when they do poster … When you check them out, you’ll see. But they’re masters at that stuff and all. They have … I have a subscription on SkillShare and so I’ll watch that sometimes to get tips on like how did you build out that the halftone in that specific way and so, I’ll try to remember that stuff when I design because it doesn’t always, projects don’t always call for specifics like that, but in the certain circumstances where they do, that’s when I try to utilise like a new technique or thrashed distressed style or something that I might not have been able to use before. So yeah, I think trying a new technique is a lot of kind of pulling good reference for myself and in just seeing how to improve what I already know.
Ian Paget: Yeah. I think everything you said for us as you approach is really good advice, because I know when I first started, I’m self taught myself-
Myles Mendoza: Wow. Solid.
Ian Paget: I think taking something that you find and trying to work out how it was put together just by playing with different things, just to try and see how it’s done is one of the best ways to learn. Even if it’s just tracing over the top of someone else’s logo just to try and work out how it was constructed or why it looks good, why is the kerning that way. I look up to people like Pentagram and it’s like, even though their work is really simple is good just to look at it like why is actually like that and through the years I’ve learned so much like about optical adjustments. Like, when you put a grid across something, it’s like, “Why is that slightly out like that? Why is that not perfectly round?” You just learn so much by doing that.
Myles Mendoza: Totally.
Ian Paget: So what you said is amazing and as well, watching those SkillShare courses or any online courses just to keep learning and improving is absolutely the best way to keep going. So I think that the way that you’re doing is probably the absolute best way to do it.
Myles Mendoza: Yeah, and kind of touch on what you are saying about like playing with different shapes, I know, I heard the podcast you did with Draplin and he kind of uses that term playing with stuff and that’s-
Ian Paget: Yeah, he did.
Myles Mendoza: Honestly, that’s really what it is. I feel like the kind of stuff that we do here is you literally get to play with stuff. I mean, if you look at … I mean you can’t see obviously, but like our office is filled with toys. Like I’m sitting on my desk by now, I’m looking at at least 20 different toys that are on a shelf that I have in front of me, I have illustration work on almost every wall, I have a lightsaber mounted up in front of me. I mean, it’s really important to surround yourself with things that make you feel comfortable, make you feel good and especially with us doing a lot of work for the toy industry, it’s really good to subconsciously be in that mindset of just staying youthful. Just keeping things fun because if you’re not having fun, why are you doing this? Not the industry to be and if you can’t enjoy.
Ian Paget: Yeah. I loved seeing your office because there’s a video on your, on the HRO website and you got a life size is Kylo Ren in one room and my office is, I mean, is a small room, but I’ve got … in front of me I’ve got one of these twelve inch HellBoy figures, and I got a Link from Zelda there and… I just got an office full of stereotypical nerdy stuff. But for me it inspires me because, things like Toy Story, I’ve got a lot of the Toy Story figures, and to me they just look like the actual characters from the film, like they’re going to come alive. But I like the whole story of how they came into existence and how these characters that I love watching… someone actually sat down and wrote stories. Someone drew out that character, someone then animated it, built it, sculpted it. It’s like everyone that built that was doing a job and for me it’s really exciting. So I like to kind of surround myself with pretty much the same kind of things as you guys just A, because I love these things and B, just because they kind of capture that child within me and I think its important to keep-
Myles Mendoza: Yeah, nostalgia.
Ian Paget: Yeah.
Myles Mendoza: Yup. No, it’s super important and another thing too is like there, in our building kind of area, almost every other building that’s in the complex we are in, you go in there and it’s white walls. I mean, just and white walls but with nothing on them. I mean, like not even a picture or and I’ve seen people’s offices, and it’s funny because some of the people we know from most part of the people that are in our building, but they’ll come into our office and they’re like, “Whoa”. Like, “What you guys do?” You know and I’ll explain to them and they’ll like, “Do you guys even work in here?” And I’m like, “Yeah”. They’ll be like, “Well, you have like a play station four set up and you have TVs and you have like toys every, like what do you guys do?” And so I’ll explain it to them, but, again, it goes back to and we have kind of like our corporate colours of orange and like a cream colour and a dark grey on different walls because it just aesthetically looks nice and you feel like you’re in a kind of cozy spot when you come in here.
We just … People that come to visit which, I love having people visit that the office and then it’s fun to make them feel welcome and it’s cool to come into a place where you feel like it’s, there’s no worries and that it’s like, it’s fun. Don’t … Well, when I say no worries, trust me, we have pretty hard deadlines to meet. But I guess the main thing to take away is like, I love coming to the studio. I mean, a lot of people see Monday’s like, “Oh God, I got to get through this Monday”. But me, I’m like, no, I come to work, like I get to work on really fun stuff and I leave at the end of the day to go home and my wife and my son and do it all over again and it’s, no, everything’s good. It’s all good vibes, you know and I think that’s a really important thing for this type of industry.
Ian Paget: Yeah, absolutely. I think it’s really nice to hear that and I’m hoping that people will kind of hear what you said and hopefully if they do enjoy the work they’re doing, hopefully, they’ll look for work that they will actually enjoy. I was going to say as well, one benefit with your office is that, it’s kind of relevant to your line of work as well. So when you have meetings, because you guys are doing the packaging for a lot of toys and movie theme kind of things, it makes sense for your brand to actually have the office surrounded in that way. When people do come into that environment, they totally buy into everything that you’re doing and it probably helps you guys secure more work when you get the clients in.
Myles Mendoza: Yeah. Well, so to touch on that, I mean, for clients like Hasbro, they’re in Rhode Island. Is where their base, which I don’t know if you’re kind of familiar with where there are, but we are on the west coast, they’re on the east coast. So unfortunately, we can’t really get them into the office but … Yeah, but we have, I mean, we have had some of our clients like come down and they check out this like “Oh, cool”. Like, “Yeah, you know, I saw that before. I remember that project”. Yeah, the majority of our conversations with clients are through phone conference or sometimes with Nickelodeon we’ve been doing video conference with them cause they’re in like New Jersey, New York area. But now, I mean, clients that we’ve had in here they definitely something in here resonates with them and we don’t necessarily know what that is. We just like to have cool stuff.
But now, I definitely what you’re saying, it definitely helps kind of solidify that we love what we do. Because, it’d be one thing if we were doing this type of work, but then you come into our office and there’s nothing in it, it would almost seem like, “Oh, you guys are literally just doing this just to pluck a pay-check…
Ian Paget: Just for the money, just as a job. Yeah.
Myles Mendoza: Yeah. But it’s like, now, you come in here and it’s what you see is what you get. Like we are very passionate about the type of work that we do and it shows when you walk in here and so I think that’s really important for us.
Ian Paget: Yeah. I can see that in all the photos and just on the website and videos and how you’re talking about it, you guys absolutely love what you’re doing and it’s obviously that’s the reason, one of the reasons why you’ve been able to be so successful. Well, we’re near the end of our time. So I want to kind of throw one more question at you.
Myles Mendoza: Okay.
Ian Paget: Now, if you could travel back in time and offer yourself just one piece of advice, what would that advice be?
Myles Mendoza: I think a couple people have asked me this and I feel like I’ve given a different answer every time and so I’m going to give a different answer this time. But I think kind of knowing the things I know now and being in this creative industry for a considerable amount of time, I would definitely network with a lot more people as a younger self of a younger version of myself because, I’ve kind of … It’s kind of fun to meet people that think similar to how I do, especially when it comes to this style of work and it’s really fun to kind of feed off of that energy. Michael Fugoso, I don’t know if you’re familiar with his work, Fugstrator. But he’s kind of the homie and he’s in San Diego too as well, but his work is amazing. I literally met him just through Instagram, I think he was selling a pin or something and I said, “Hey, do you have any more of those? I’m in San Diego” and he’s like, “Oh, I am too”. We kind of, that’s how we ended up meeting face to face and that’s how we ended up doing that video that’s on the HRO website was with him.
Going to events like DesignerCon, I got to meet Draplin there. I mean, that was like amazing to me, because that guy really is, he’s a huge teddy bear and for anybody else that’s met him, he really is-
Ian Paget: Yeah, I have as well-
Myles Mendoza: You have? That’s awesome-
Ian Paget: He’s amazing. Yeah. Like, I interviewed him on the podcast as you mentioned and he was the Birmingham Festival here in England and he’s so cool. He remembered my name and he is-
Myles Mendoza: That’s awesome.
Ian Paget: He is very hug-able, like you just want to go up and hug the guy and everyone pretty much wants to go out to him to have a picture with him and he’s just such a genuinely nice guy and also incredibly talented as well. I understand why everyone loves him.
Myles Mendoza: Yeah. But he’s also so humble.
Ian Paget: Yeah.
Myles Mendoza: I mean, that guy is every … He is the real deal. It’s easy to kind of build a facade in your mind about somebody else because you haven’t met them before. But, as big of a designer as well known as a designer he is, when I met him I’m like, “Dude”, within seconds I was like, “Dude, I feel like I’ve known you forever” and he is that type of guy. So, yeah, to answer your question, I would definitely network with people earlier on in my career, just because it’s really important to build those relationships with other people who are in the same kind of field you are and it helps branch out with different projects and just learning about what other people do and what they’re passionate about and, you’d be surprised like how many people you meet that you can just easily click with. It’s like being, like you and I. I mean, we could talk about Star Wars for days than somebody than hasn’t seen-
Ian Paget: Yeah, we can talk for a long time.
Myles Mendoza: Yeah, and see in somebody that hasn’t seen the movie, they don’t have a clue what we’re talking about. So, I think surrounding yourself with people who for one, are better than you is a big takeaway too because it just helps you become better. But surrounding yourself with good people and people that are interested in the same things you are, is a big thing. I probably would have taught myself back in the day.
Ian Paget: Yeah. I think that’s pretty good advice because I know people that are in their 20s and they’re just networking so much and I just think I wish I did more of that 10 years ago-
Myles Mendoza: Totally.
Ian Paget: Because I do think just connecting with people, you get more opportunities, you learn more, you get more inspired, you get more driven. It does make such a difference and thankfully I think we’re quite lucky here today cause there’s Facebook groups online, like the Logo Geek Community I started two years ago. I’ve made so many friends through that community and-
Myles Mendoza: Awesome.
Ian Paget: Yeah, and Instagram, like you said, Twitter, stuff like that. It’s so easy to meet people in your area and there’s lots of events and stuff like that and yeah, it’s just a really good time to actually meet and network. So that’s fantastic advice.
Well, Myles, it has been an absolute pleasure to have you on the show. I really appreciate you taking an hour of your Saturday morning to chat with me and I hope that listeners of this show are really going to enjoy it as well.
Myles Mendoza: Yeah, absolutely. Thank you so much Ian, for having me. It’s been a real pleasure.
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