Words: Kazeem Kuteyi Photography : Kahlil Hernandez
Charles Deluvio is simply seeking the good life. And by good life I mean the freedom to wake up and do whatever you want on your own terms. When we met Charles in Montreal he recently quit his job at a design agency because he realized it wasn’t the projects weren’t as exciting or giving him the flexibility he needed. It’s risky moves like these that inspire me. Throughout our conversation we talk about the culture behind design and his views on education and creativity.
How did you get into design?
I was a skateboarder back in the day. I wasn’t that good compared to my friends but I started filming them and that’s sort of when my artistic side came in. I was filming, editing and then made a really cheap website back in like 2000, 2002. And that’s when I realized, editing, there’s something to do with that and then I learned Photoshop and I started making websites.
Did you go to school for it?
Yeah, I went to Concordia University. I got my design degree and I was working at the same time so it took me five years to complete but I have four years of experience working.
With the Internet and all, do you think school is necessary for the young creative today?
Anyone could be a designer; anyone can be a photographer today with Instagram. Everyone has a bootleg copy of Photoshop. But I think school is important for me at least. I value education because before, I would do things that look nice but now I understand the impact of what I designed. You know, how people perceive it and how it lives on. And you learn about how your design impacts the world when your design is no longer relevant. For example, what happens to the chair that broke and gets thrown outside?
What is creativity to you?
Creativity for me is not something new. It’s not a new idea. It’s just something that’s done differently. I could see something that doesn’t seem interesting a year ago but today it’s so relevant and new. You see that in fashion. Nothing is new and everything is recycled.
So then how do you find something new and make it your own?
When you talk about recycling ideas, that happens a lot but it’s the way you approach that idea and how you execute it. Execution is everything. It could be just as simple as the font you use or the colour you use. You make that recycled idea new by adding your own style. For example, I’m more into minimalism, clean fonts and white spaces. I don’t use a lot of colours and I’m really inspired by Japanese design. That’s where I take my inspiration from, and I take what my peers are doing in Montreal and I adapt those styles together.
What do you do at the design company you work for?
I do web design and art direction. I’m actually leaving tomorrow.
This could make this interesting. I used to work for startups a lot and with startups, you’re a product designer and not a service designer. The difference is, when you’re working for a start up everything could be designed. You’re able to design stuff from packaging, to the brand voice and to the way people perceive you. I like that it’s one client but different projects. When you’re working for an agency, you’re not really excited for any of the projects and you don’t get to choose your clients. I love brainstorming; I love researching and discussing strategy. Ideas are more valuable than the design at the end of the day. Some ideas are worth ‘x’ amount of dollars but a design, anyone can up with that in the end. But it’s the idea, that one liner, like “Just do it” is king.
In ad school I had to come up with that one liner that encompassed my whole idea for the ad campaign I was working on.
Yeah. I worked for a few startups here and I want to go back to that. Service design is the hardest kind of thing because you have a bank of hours, 40 hours, and boom from A-Z, you need to give a final product at the end. Sometimes being creative is not 9-5, Monday to Friday. It’s taking a shower and thinking about it or sleeping on it and waking up the next morning and then you’ve done your job.
And sometimes you wake up and you just don’t feel like being creative.
Yeah. And sometimes it’s by doing something else. What I love the most is what you guys are doing right now. It’s Thursday and you’re in Montreal. You went to Paris and London while everyone is working. I love shopping. On a Wednesday, I like going to the barbershop at 11am while no one is there or going to the Library or museum. I don’t like that schedule where you know you’re gonna be in front of a screen for 7 hours. It just kills me.
So what would you say to kids who are trying to get out of that? I mean, with us, we still have part time jobs while were doing this and while we work on our own personal projects.
You know what? A part time job is the best way to explore your ideas. If you have an itch, you need to scratch it and part time jobs gives you that flexibility in where you need to pay rent but you also have time to do your own thing. Some people have it in them to be able to just do what they want and whatever hours they want. When I say I’m working part time on a project, sometimes I sleep at 2 am to just finish a project.
You think people are born with creativity?
I can’t say that. It’s about how you grew up. I’m Filipino and my mom was a dentist back home and when she came here her education wasn’t valid I guess – she wanted me to become a dentist. She did her education and she got it but over here it wasn’t valid so she wanted to pass it on to me. I said no, this isn’t me and like I said I started skateboarding and I was sort of this mini rebel going against the Asian stereotype. I decided to go into design. Recently she told me how she loved painting and drawing but her dad never wanted her to become an artist because to be successful to need to be this and that. So maybe creativity is in me, maybe it’s not or perhaps it’s just a factor of my parents wanting me to be this and then I decide to become that. It’s just normal for kids to do the opposite of what your parents want you to do.
Do you believe in the concept of follow your dreams?
Follow your dreams? That’s a tough one. Everyone has responsibilities. I watch a lot of reality TV and these game shows, American idol, the voice and it’s all follow your dreams, become this successful singer, the truth is, that’s not for everyone not everyone can‘t afford it. I used to dislike rich people that weren’t talented and surround themselves with talented people because they had money. Now, today, anyone could make their own fortune. Follow your dreams; but, part time.