Raul Esquivel

How did you get started with graphic design?
The way I got started with graphic design was about as informal as one would think for a 16 year old. I started a hardcore band in 2006 called Dying For A Lie and wanted to put up some of the music I had written on a MySpace page but didn’t want to use a photo of myself. So instead I decided to look around online and found some Photoshop tutorials that showed you how to make an album cover design. I had a friend let me borrow a copy of Photoshop CS2 and decided to learn how to make stuff with it. Then it all snowballed from there.

 What was the first big client project you worked on?
The first big client project I got to work on was in 2009 for the band Versus The Night. Which by the way, I was a HUGE fan of. I had been doing design work for bands and clothing companies at the time and one day I became friends with the guitarist over Facebook after he stumbled upon one of my old design pieces on Behance. He told me they were looking for a designer to help them come up with a new logo and artwork as well as a full blown MySpace layout for their new album and asked me if I was down to work with them. I, of course, said yes.

You’re all over the place with your creative exploits, from typography to music. How do you decide what you’re going to work on and why?
It’s really about as random as one might think. I really don’t have a process in which I decide what to work on at any given moment. I mainly work on what is currently inspiring me at the time. But once I have a project in mind to work on, I’m very systematic and organized in the process and execution of it until it’s done or I get bored of it. Both of which happen fairly often so in ways, I turn to my other creative outlets and let them inspire each other, if that makes any sense.

You’re very active on Instagram and you show a lot of your process through that network. How has using that tool influenced your creative pursuits?
Instagram has definitely allowed me to open up more and show people exactly what it takes to do everything I enjoy doing. By opening up my process and workflow to others, it has allowed me to think of new ways I could utilize all of Instagram’s functions to further post some more process shots or process videos. Plus I enjoy showing others how one goes about doing a certain thing they might otherwise not have had the knowledge to do.

You’ve been in Los Angeles your whole life. How has living in LA influenced your work?
Living in LA has played a huge role in my work and the type of work I like to do. Its very easy to be inspired by the large range of artistic diversity that resides in different parts of LA. The main way I draw inspiration from Los Angeles is by visiting different places in and around the city. I usually set out on day long adventures by myself and try to be an observer to my surroundings and in turn, bring that sense of inspiration and put it into my work.

THE (MT) Q & A

What is the biggest obstacle you face to doing what you want to do?
Since I have a wide interest in many things, the biggest obstacle is finding time to do it all. Lots of times I could be inspired to simultaneously work on 2 or more of my projects at the same time. What I do in those situations is plan out and divide my time across the projects and work off of a well planned out to-do list and try to knock-off as many things off the list as possible.

What would be the worst possible job for you?
Probably something that doesn’t relate to any of my interests like being a truck driver or a lawyer or a waiter at the Olive Garden.

 If you could collaborate with anyone, alive or dead, who would it be and what would you want to create?
Definitely Scott Hansen(ISO50). His retro looking designs and typography pieces were a huge source of inspiration for me when I was first starting out in design. I would love to collaborate on some typography pieces or promotional artwork for his band TYCHO. Or even just contribute to his ISO50 blog.

What are five websites you make sure to visit each week?
(in no particular order)

What trend are you sick of?
Web 2.0 i think. I have an extreme dislike of shiny, glossy buttons and overly sales-y looking sites.

 What project are you most proud of?
Definitely my old clothing company AetherAeon. I built that thing entirely from the ground up. From the branding and website to the products and marketing. I did 3 full years of research by reading books on alchemy and different styles of design before I officially launched it. It was definitely the biggest project I’ve ever worked on personally in terms of learning new things as I went along. As a result I became well-versed in the design/clothing/art industries in ways I never was before.

What is your death row meal?
15 Honey BBQ and 15 Medium-Heat boneless wings with a side of Onion Rings from Buffalo Wild Wings.

 What would people be surprised to find out you’re obsessed with?
I’m not sure if this is weird or not, but I have a strange fascination with watching 9/11 documentaries. Since it happened when I was so young, I never fully understood what happened at the time so when I got a Netflix account a fews years ago, I started watching as many of them as I could. I’ve seen so many that I forget which ones I’ve seen and sometimes end up re-watching them all over again without realizing half-way through.

What is one song you always have to turn up? What’s one you always turn off?
Turn-up: I Wish by Stevie Wonder.
Turn-off: anything that is currently popular on the radio

Space travel or underwater exploration? And why?
Space travel! Yes. Hands down. No question. Not to sound cliché but I think Space Travel is more important because it provides a better source of adventure and imagination as to what could possibly be out there. Not to mention I’ve been interested in space and astronomy since I was a little kid and it was a huge driving force in my decision to become a graphic designer because I wanted to make surreal space scenes and matte paintings.

What has been your most enjoyable project to work on?
Probably when I created my first font, Isomoth. I learned a lot about typography and letter shapes and how you can create the majority of the letter data by only creating a handful of letters. Also the process in making the letters, adjusting kerning and letter widths and leading and then compiling it all into a usable font was incredibly eye opening.

If you could have any piece of artwork displayed in your home what would it be?
I think the Levitated Mass piece at LACMA. How awesome/frightening would that be to have that hanging right above your driveway?

What do you love most about where you live?
I love how quiet it is on any given day. Also how there is very little light pollution. Since I’m a huge astronomy enthusiast, I enjoy sitting outside and watching the stars on clear nights.

If we came over to your neighborhood where would you take us for a drink or a meal?
Probably out to El Faros Tacos in San Fernando. That place literally has the best Al Pastor tacos I’ve ever had in my life. Every single person I’ve taken there has agreed that its one of the best taco places in the Valley. And then maybe some Thai Tea Boba from a small donut shop thats down the road 🙂


About the Author Alex Alabbas is a Senior Email and Content Marketing Manager at Media Temple. Alex has a diverse scope of content expertise in industries ranging from media and entertainment, market research and technology. More by this Author