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Mr. Oso: Sunny Disposition

Versatile designer Sergio M. de la Varga, aka Mr. Oso, talks about loving what he does and living in the moment.

Sergio M. de la Varga is no stranger to adaptation or evolution — after all, his moniker “Mr. Oso,” coined by both Serial Cut’s Sergio del Puerto and de la Varga’s own girlfriend, means “Mr. Bear” in English. Some men would have shied away from such a nickname, but the graphic artist and art director embraced it, now sitting front and center in both his portfolio and professional correspondence. Possessing a multi-disciplined background including 3D animation, creative programming and design, de la Varga brings lively vision and pliant talents to his clients and assignments, resulting in fresh and focused project outcomes.

Recognizing weakness is actually a great strength, and de la Varga knows his foe lies within the realm of organization. “I’ve always been quite absent-minded and that makes it a necessity to have all my things well organized. I always carry a small paper diary with me, where I write down the “today’s list to do” agenda.” He also credits his girlfriend for keeping him in line.When it comes to actual project management, he relies on a subtle process of elimination to ensure success.

“The trick is choosing the best idea of the many that may occur when starting a new project. And then managing, in a subtle way, to integrate the commercial message in a sophisticated graphic. The first thing I do when getting a commission is think about what I’d like to do, and what the client wants me to do. Next step then is to find the similarities between my wishes and theirs, hopefully achieving a final result that goes a bit more beyond what’s expected. I prefer to have my gut feeling telling me that I’ve gone a bit too far, then the opposite. And to stay concentrated I need peace and quiet, if possible I turn off the phone and the music on.”

I prefer to have my gut feeling telling me that I’ve gone a bit too far, then the opposite.

This elimination process has also helped which career directions he decided to take. “I started off studying computer animation, but ended up with a job as a creative programmer in an advertising agency, having the full measure of internet. Two years, I worked for two different interactive agencies. First as a programmer, later on as a designer. This was a very interesting period for me, in which I learned that programming wasn’t my thing. It came clear to me that I was more into the graphic/creative part, developing concepts rather than making the concepts work in a functional way. Now, more or less a year has past by where I’ve been working on offline projects, and I think that this is what I like the most. What attracts me with this form of medium is the possibility to experiment with different materials and textures, summed up with the advantage that you can retouch the final result.”

Collaboration has had a huge impact on de la Varga’s creative process and direction. “I’ve got burned into my brain the memory of my first collaboration with Serial Cut. I’ve ever been that nervous before, and with reason. I had to do two full page illustrations about a technology special for one of the biggest Spanish newspapers, El País. I had quite a lot of ideas, as I usually do, still I didn’t know which one to go for. Luckily after mentioning this to Sergio, everything became much easier — choosing the graphic line didn’t pose that big a problem after this. I think the best moments I’ve had so far, actually has been working as part of a team. Thinking out new ideas and playing with them. I enjoy seeing how one can accomplish creating something completely different from what one first had in mind. In most cases the result is more complete.”

At the end of the day, a positive attitude shines through in all he does. “The truth of the matter is that I love my work. Having the possibility to be creative each day of the week is something not everybody has,  so for that I’m grateful. I really can’t see myself doing something else, something not related to this world.” Accepting the flux in creative energy allows him to transition between fields relatively painlessly. I must admit that my goals are on short terms. At the moment I’m very much into the interactive world. I’m in love with the idea of mixing graphic design with technology to create a design. I love trying out new things, experimenting with them, not standing still, finding my path and with small steps be able to work on better projects.”

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