Interview with Rafael Mayani on making things happen

My advice is simple: keep working on it!

– Rafael Mayani

We’ve been talking a lot about making things happen this month. You’ve probably seen the series of masterclasses we’re hosting in the next few weeks, or you’re simply following the conversation on Twitter through the #MakeYourselfHappen hashtag, where we’re sharing all sorts of resources to help you bring your ideas to life.

Today, we’re bringing something a bit different. Instead of telling you how you can make things happen, we’ve invited a special guest to share how he does it.

Introducing Rafael Mayani

Rafael Mayani is a Barcelona-based illustrator from Mexico City who recently caught our attention through his contribution to the collaborative ‘36 Days of Type‘ project. When we saw his work, we were so impressed that we immediately thought about how we could reach out to him to talk a bit about his process, how Behance helped him make his ideas happen and what it’s like to work in Barcelona, among other things. These are the highlights of our conversation.

Thank you for your time, Rafael. So tell us: why did you decide to contribute to ’36 Days of Type’?

’36 Days of Type’ is a project that first started in Spain, I think, to get people from all around the world to work on graphic interpretations of each letter. If you look at my work, you’ll see that I love working on series of illustrations, rather than stand alone pieces, so this felt like the perfect project for me to work on. Sadly, I couldn’t complete the entire 36 days (which included numbers as well, from 0 to 9), because of time constraints on other work, but I did finish the entire alphabet!

Each letter is associated with a very specific name or thing. What comes first in your creative process: a name that you associate with that letter which then informs the illustration, or the visual style you want to associate with that letter which then translates into an object?

There are a couple of elements and themes that I like to repeat in my illustrations, so most of the times I just find things that would allow me to go in a certain direction. But for this specific project I wanted to try different styles throughout the alphabet, so I also kept an open mind on what words to choose.

Since I didn’t have much time to work on this project (most of the letters were done as ‘warm ups’ before work) I didn’t spend much time thinking the concept through and would start drawing almost at random. And then sometimes, like with the letter ‘X’, there weren’t that many choices so I just had to choose a random word and try to represent it in an interesting way. It all felt very natural.

How has Behance helped expose your work? What are the main benefits you got from using it to publish your projects?

I started posting on Behance almost as soon as I got my first Wacom Tablet and started doing more digital illustrations, which was around two years ago. Behance has been important to keep pushing myself and constantly work on new things. Luckily, I’ve had some of my projects featured on the main page, which has given me a bit more exposure. I would also say that 90% of the work I’ve done since I started illustrating has come from Behance, which is really good. In fact, the studio where I work now, Giant Ant Media, found me through Behance as well.

How does an artistic city like Barcelona, where you’re based in, influence your work?

Barcelona is filled with culture, so everywhere you go you can find something that will inspire you. The design culture here is amazing, to the point where it feels almost like a society in which every studio or designer helps and supports each other.

A bit like Behance then, that’s great! So what advice can you share with young designers and illustrators to make their ideas happen?

It’s simple: keep working on it! All the time! It’s very, very easy to get an art block and it happens to all of us, it happens to me all the time. What I’ve found is that the easiest way for me to move on is to just come up with a new project and focus all my effort on it.

With amazing results as we can see. Thank you Rafael and keep up the good work!

About Rafael Mayani

Find out more about Rafael Mayani on his website, Behance, Instagram and Twitter and feel free to share your own advice on making things happen with the hashtag #MakeYourselfHappen.