5 Questions with graphic & type designer Carlos de Toro

I was born in Logroño, a small city located in the north of Spain where I lived most my life. We have a good design school here, I spent 4 years studying there to get my Graphic Design Bachelor. After my study, I started working on graphic design projects. I worked at different studios and I also worked there as an editorial designer in the local newspaper.

After that, I decided to move to Barcelona to study Type Design at the EINA. Barcelona totally changed me, on a personal and professional level. I feel like a real designer who can face projects and problems. My study at EINA made me more confident.
When I finished my study in Barcelona, I started working as a graphic designer in a graphic/advertising agency and also as a freelance graphic and type designer.

At this moment I am trying to specialise myself in Type Design because it’s what I really want to do. I want to keep learning and creating new typefaces with a solid idea and purpose behind them. But of course, as I am a graphic designer in my core I continue to work on identity and editorial projects, I like that type of work a lot.

When did you first got into design?

Well, I used to say that my first contact with design was during my studies. But lately, I’ve realised that my interest in graphic design started much earlier. I’ve been experimenting and was interested in what could be labelled as graphic design way before my studies.

For example, I used my first computer (well it was actually the family computer when I was 6-8 years old in 1996-1998) to play around with Desktop Publishing Software like Microsoft Publisher. I created birthday and business cards, calendars, posters… and lots of stationery! I could spend hours trying to design and then print my designs with my old Epson printer.

Later, when the internet arrived and I was in high school, one of my classmates used to laugh at me and would call me a nerd (in a friendly way) because I was downloading new fonts to use them in some biology or chemistry research memories cover. That was in 2006… and look, 10 years later and I still want to design fonts!

I could definitely say that my first steps in design were thanks to the first family computer, Wndows’95 and Microsoft Publisher. Obviously, I didn’t know that I was doing graphic design, in fact… it would take me years to discover it. But I always had a connection with arts and communication in different techniques, video, photography…

Is there any work you’re particularly proud of?

Well, I am proud of some works I did recently and a bit embarrassed about older ones. I see my criticism as a good sign; self-criticism makes me grow as a designer.

If I had to choose some, I’d say that ones related with typography, like for example my last typeface Recia is something I am proud of. It was a big challenge for me because I had to work in areas of type design. And after months of drawing and corrections, I’m quite happy with the result. I am definitely a better designer now then to 3 years ago.

In your view, what were your biggest challenges?

I’m really happy with my typographic work although I am still learning and taking my first steps into Type Design. On the other hand, I finished a whole type family and the font was published by The Indian Type Foundry. I am still amazed by the fact that I worked with a type foundry from the other side of the planet all thanks to the internet!

So this was probably one of my biggest challenges and I’m really proud of it.

What inspires you?

To be honest, that’s a really difficult question. I have been thinking a lot about it recently… and I am a bit worried that even though the internet is a wonderful tool at the end we all are inspired by the same things because of globalisation. We all watch the same movies, listen to the same music and read the same books. And those are the things that inspire me directly or indirectly

A good designer friend once told me that my type design decisions when designing letters reflects the music I listen (mainly pop-punk-alternative-rock music), because of the hard shapes. I don’t know if it is a real influence, maybe. Anyway, if it was true I wouldn’t like that music influences my work, as a designer I feel that I have to be versatile in style and method to work on different projects and problems, and to present the appropriate solution.

Recently I try to open my eyes while I am strolling true the city. So I can find other inspiration sources than from other times and places that have a place in my life. I’d like to be a designer inspired by the people, places and of course: the problems that surround me. Design is a tool to solve problems, not a tool to make beautiful things.

Discover the work of Carlos de Toro

Published by

Timothy Helmer

Designer, curator of Let's Talk Design and founder of Creative Network.