“Image making” is at the core of what Sergio del Puerto does.
He is the founder and creative director of Serial Cut™, a world-renowned and in-demand design studio which continues to produce some of the most arresting and exciting visuals some 22 years after its inception.
Del Puerto’s work sits at the intersection between art and commerce, proving that work made for commercial companies doesn’t have to preclude unfettered creativity. It’s an approach he’s shared as part of the Adobe Creator Collective, a group featuring a network of different artists from across Europe. As a unit, they offer tips and advice to Adobe users, with Adobe providing free assets for up-and-coming creators to get started themselves.
Here, Del Puerto shares details of his professional journey, lifting the lid on how he’s managed to stay at the top for so long.
When did you first break into the creative industry? Tell us about your journey.
I’d say that 1999 was the year I officially registered “Serial Cut™” as an alias to publish my early freelance designs. I was working in-house for different studios and agencies at the time. I would work the regular day job, then come home and use my downtime to build my own brand through freelance assignments and personal projects. It was a frenetic period – I definitely didn’t sleep enough – but I was a workaholic and had the ambition to build up my portfolio to attract more and more clients.
Elaborate on how you and your team approach process?
The journey to create and finalise an image – or motion piece – has so many interesting steps that are the building blocks for what you are seeing, conceptually and visually. I couldn’t think of a project that doesn’t have a certain base concept: it doesn’t matter if it’s a big or small client, a simple still-life, or a big campaign with five key visuals. Process is important as proof of the technique we are using.
What are some of the creative barriers you come across? Do you have any tips for fellow creatives on how to overcome those?
Probably stress, fear, and self-doubt. From time to time, it comes again – with more or less severity, depending on the situation – but in my case it was more in the early years. I think everyone in this industry experiences it and learns from it – it makes you grow. Self-confidence is something that will come gradually, and you have to get used to it as you grow from your mistakes.
Surrealism plays a large role in your work. Where do you draw this inspiration from? Any favorite artists you’d like to share?
Yes, I like surreal visual scenes or concepts – it’s part of my personality. With our imagery we can drive the audience to other worlds or depict impossible objects and scenes, with the aim to always elicit a “Wow” from them. Sometimes this can also be ironic, and again, this is an extension of my personality. I love the work of many artists from different fields, such as Serge Lutens, Jean Paul Goude, Paul Thomas Anderson, Michel Gondry, Ingmar Bergman, Duane Hanson, Escher, David Lynch, Jean-Pierre Jeunet…
How did Covid impact you and your team? How are you overcoming those challenges?
When Covid-19 started in March 2020 it was a shocking moment, especially because over the course of a single week we got every one of our projects cancelled. It seemed like the end of the world. Strangely, though, we were awarded two big projects after those two panic weeks, so little by little, things became calmer.
Right now we’re still working remotely – I’m the only one who comes to the studio every day to work – and actually we’ve found a nice and effective way to [do it]. Of course the human touch is lost, but we speak everyday so in a sense we are more connected than before. It’s hard to see what the future is going to bring us, but at least we know we can change internally and adapt, and that’s very human.
As a team, collaboration is key to success. How do you encourage and manage a collaborative environment?
Absolutely, collaboration is the key. As creative director, my mission is to envision the final result and what we are going to achieve as a team. I know who can develop certain parts of each project, and how to bring together the skills of each artist, in-house or freelance.
It’s like a league of superheroes – I know everyone’s capabilities and I just need to join them up to get the result. Here in Serial Cut™, one project passes by different hands to enhance it as much as possible and get that final “Wow” effect.The Adobe Creator Collective project showcases the best new art, design and illustration talent weekly, connecting artists with the wider Adobe community. Want to be inspired? Visit the website.