Interview with Alejandro Gavancho

Back Interview with Alejandro Gavancho

Nowadays we see many people decide to work for themselves and pursue their dream. Today, we interview Alejandro Gavancho, an independent designer based between Leeds and Lima to share his journey with us. 

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I am a graphic designer based in Lima, Peru. Over the past few years, I have been living between Peru and the UK and I am planning on moving to Leeds at the end of this year. I started working as a designer seven years ago and two years ago, I decided to leave the job where I was working to push myself even further and become an independent designer.

I define what I do as a duality between powerful aesthetics and minimalism, working with a strategic, innovative and international perspective. In the past two years as an independent designer, I have created a network of contacts that are aligned with my design vision. They help me with photography, programming/user experience, 3D renders, copyright etc. This has helped me vastly to be able to work on a project right from the beginning until the very last detail.

Why did you decide to work in design and work as an independent designer?

Since I was a child, I knew that I wanted to do something creative. I grew up in Peru and 10 years ago, it was still a very chaotic country (we’re improving though, step by step), especially where I grew up. This lack of order inspired me to want to create order in the city, on billboards, packaging, shopping and local brands. This is how, after searching a bit, I found out the power that design could have as it is found everywhere and that working in this field, I could give something positive back to my surroundings.

At 23, and after having worked in graphic studios for 5 years, I realised that I never really had the freedom to direct and manage my own projects, realising my ideas how I really wanted to. Inside every graphic studio, there is always someone managing you and the end result will always be aligned to the graphic style of each company. I found that by managing my own projects, I could transmit my essence and style. My first freelance projects grabbed the attention of the design industry and not just on a local scale, but internationally too. This encouraged me to believe in what I did and I ended up deciding to start off as an independent designer.

What would you say is your area of expertise?

I love working on projects that are in the food and drinks field. Over the past few years of work, I believe that I have built up an expertise in building brands and packaging, especially for new brands because then I’m able to work with the client during the whole process, from creating the brand to the final product, which normally would be packaging, and then creating a visual universe for the brand to apply it to different platforms, whether it be digital or print.

Below: Packaging design project for Machiyenga chocolate, shortlisted in the 2020 Pentawards

What's the best and the most challenging aspect of being independent?

The best part of being independent is definitely having direct contact with the client, I think that this way, you really are able to fully explain the project, creating a connection not only with the project but also with the client. This communication is key as you really get involved with the project and you learn about different fields and topics that will then be reflected in your work.

The biggest challenge of being independent is the organisation, it’s difficult to do everything on your own, managing finances, timing, quotes, meetings, there are lots of things that you have to solve on your own when you’re independent and it requires a lot of self-discipline.

Luckily, my partner has got involved and is part of my work. Despite having a job himself in a completely different field and having his own responsibilities, he is my right hand and has become a kind of assistant which is a big help as then I only have to deal with the design side of things.

Where do you find your inspiration?

Inspiration is everywhere. I constantly find works from different creative disciplines; this inspires me a lot in general. But also, in every project, I find inspiration in what there is behind the brand itself, you just need to look for the origin, the history or even the people behind the brand themselves.

Below: Branding and packaging design project for THANKU Eyewear

What's it like to live between Lima and Leeds, how does it affect your work?

Living between two places that are so opposite to each other is really cool. I know that I’m lucky because there is so much visual culture in both places and I love them both too. On one side, Peru is my home country, I know what there is to do, where to find things and I feel comfortable there, whereas the UK is a place that I’m still discovering, it’s interesting to find new places every day, not only in and around Leeds but across the whole country, there is always something new and inspiring, especially in smaller independent places such as art galleries, shops and even towns.

This experience of living between two places has a huge positive influence on my work because they force me to have a wider vision, working for two different markets is a completely different process, this pushes me to learn more about the consumer culture and grown my global vision in order to develop projects on an international scale.

Are there any brands or types of clients that you want to work with?

My perfect client would be entrepreneurs, people who are just starting out with their brand. These are the people that I enjoy working with most. At the moment, this is the type of people I’m working with and I would like to continue doing so. I like clients that are open-minded and are not scared of doing new things, clients whose motivation goes further than just making money, these people are passionate about achieving their goals and they are dedicated.

Your work for Abrogatto 18 is loved by our followers on Instagram, can you share the story behind the project?

Abrogatto18 is a special project for me and it has been since the first meeting with the client. When I met the founder of the brand, I felt a strong connection and similarity with him. Both of us were starting something new and on our own with passion and dedication. He was looking for excellence and put 100% of his confidence in me. This allowed me to guide him from start to finish.

The production process was complicated, but it was worth it. Because of the shape of the stickers and the print finishes, it was difficult to find a supplier that could deliver our requirements, but when we found someone whose processes were much more manual, something that was in line with the handmade philosophy of Abrogatto, we knew what had made the right decision and they were able to really step the product up.

Currently, the project is still advancing. There are new cocktails to be launched and I’m creating boxes for a collection of cocktails, along with an upgrade in the paper being used, with eco-friendly certificates and polishing the final details in the print finishes.

Aborgatto 18, shortlisted in the 2020 Pentawards

What advice would you give to people who want to be an independent designer like you?

For people who are thinking of becoming independent, I would say, first, make sure that you have a well-developed portfolio, that was it will be easier to get clients in the future. It’s a learning process so, in the beginning, it won’t be easy, but you have to learn from past experiences. Organisation is key, as well as making sure you have time to yourself, not everything is work! You need time to disconnect from work to clear your mind and get more inspiration. Lastly, I would tell them to believe in what you do. See every project as an opportunity to show what you can achieve and leave your mark on the world of design.

What is your plan for the next few years?

My 5-year plan would be to have my own studio. I want to grow and continue learning. I’d like to expand and create a multidisciplinary team that shares my vision. A problem that I face at the moment is that I can’t reply to all of my potential clients because I prefer to focus on one project at a time and not work two projects simultaneously. It is difficult having to choose between a client and let go of others, I’d like to be able to go ahead with all of them, but to do that, I’d need help and more hands on deck.

Find out more about Alejandro Gavancho