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How did you become a designer?
Growing up, I always knew that my love of art and drawing would be the basis of my career choice. As a teenager, my entreprenurial spirit was awakened when I realized that I could earn money for my talents by painting on t-shirts, jean-jackets, and jeans. In high school and college, summer jobs as a paste-up artist at the local newspaper exposed me to the world of print design. After graduating from Pratt, I worked as a Senior Designer at a newspaper and then as an Art Director at a publishing company – designing editorial spreads, advertisements, and sales materials. Feeling the need to pursue other mediums and industries, I left publishing to freelance and eventually opened my studio – Bonfilio Design. We specialize in brand identity, printed collateral, package design and web design.
Where are you from originally?
New York. I grew up in Queens, lived in Brooklyn during college, lived in Manhattan for 6 years and now in Brooklyn again.
Who were your main influences growing up?
My parents, my aunt and my junior high-school art teacher. My parents – because they made sure that me and my sisters had all sorts of art supplies and were exposed to all kinds of art, photography, and architecture growing up. They encouraged and fostered our artistic abilities and taught us to set goals and achieve them. My aunt Myrna – because she always gave us great projects to work on and just made everything FUN! She was a NYC elementary school teacher and I was (and still am) privileged to have her in my life. My junior high school art teacher Ms. Mosner – she saw something in me, took me under her wing, and guided me through my preparation for an illustration piece that she entered in an art competition. We won! Ms. Mosner and I, plus four other teacher/student teams from NYC, went on a two-week trip to Japan. I was 13.
Did you go to art school/college or are you self-taught?
Both. I have a BFA in Communication Design from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York and my computer knowledge is basically self-taught (and still is). When I graduated in 1992, computers were just becoming popular in the graphic design industry. I started on a PC because they were more affordable back then. I taught myself PageMaker and CorelDraw, and eventually transitioned over to a Mac. I then learned Quark Express, Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop and now work with the Adobe Creative Suite.
Any advice or tips to novice designers?
Two come to mind immediately. 1 – Go green. As graphic designers, it’s our responsibility to not only affect change in our own practices, but in the practices of others (and their audiences) as well. 2 – Learn the art of the sale. Artists by nature are often much better at visual communications than verbal ones. When you have a good reason or concept behind your design, the ability to articulate it eloquently makes it that much better.
What has been the most rewarding and challenging project you have worked on?
It was one of the first projects we did when I started the studio. It was the NYC2000 logo. We were invited to submit a number of designs for consideration by the then Mayor Giuliani and the NYC2000 committee. We worked day and night on it and eventually submitted 12 logo designs. After a few nail biting weeks, our design was chosen and used on all of the events in NYC during the year 2000. We went on to design other materials for various events throughout the year. It was challenging in the respect that most jobs are: tight deadlines, low or no budget, and lots of changes. But it was more rewarding in the respect that it was for the city I love and grew up in. To see our logo plastered all over the world’s most famous city that year was truly amazing.
What is your favorite portfolio piece? Why?
That always changes. Up until recently, it was the Godiva Home Entertainment package redesign because I love the level of sophistication that it exudes. Now, it’s a series of projects for Mascia Management that we just completed. A website design and a “green” business card printed on 100% post-consumer waste recycled paper that’s FSC certified.