Jonathan Ortiz: ‘I’m focused on the world of lettering’

We came across the work of Jonathan Ortiz when searching for lettering artists to take part in the Affinity Designer for iPad special beta. In this article​, we find out more about his process.

Jonathan Ortiz is a designer and illustrator from Ecuador who specialises in logo design and lettering. We’re big fans of his work and not only did Jonathan create some stunning work for us during the Affinity Designer for iPad beta, but he also created our amazing ‘Affinity Live’ logo for an event we held at Serif HQ in July 2018.

Affinity Live logo created by Jonathan Ortiz using Affinity Designer for iPad.

Tell us more about yourself.

I currently work as an Art Director at The Caffeine Agency, where I have been lucky to be given the opportunity to grow professionally.

I characterise myself for being straight forward but extremely thorough, I am discliplined with myself in every project that I work on whether it be for a client or for my personal portfolio.

My passion is for the world of letters, to experiment with shadows is what I think stands out most in my work. It is fascinating to see how a composition or a letter varies depending on where the shadows are placed.

If we asked you to design a logo for our company, what would it look like?

I’d love the opportunity to design a logo for you, I know that the result would be amazing. I would combine my knowledge and experience to develop a design that is not only attractive, but can also be functional for what you want to communicate.

Social networks are a fundamental resource for me, among which Dribbble stands out. Perhaps being exclusive tends to show creative and varied content.

‘Sweet & Coffee” created by Jonathan Ortiz.
What qualities do you consider necessary for a good designer?

A desire to continually learn: We must not lose the desire to know and learn. This allows us to discover new design concepts.

Patience: Not everything turns out perfect the first time, we should always try possible alternatives, as it may take time before reaching the final result.

Question everything: Questioning our work assures us of a constant improvement for our professional career. It is important not to settle for something good if it can be excellent.

“Yeah” created by Jonathan Ortiz using Affinity Designer for iPad beta.
Why did you choose graphic design as a profession?

I remember after finishing high school I questioned what career path I wanted to take, but since I already had some drawing skills, a family member suggested that I study graphic design to which I agreed.

At first, I honestly had no idea what graphic design was about, and I did not see it as a career to generate high income. In the second year of studies, I began to see things more clearly and see the infinite possibilities in which graphic design could be applied.

Since then I began to practice with dedication. The 3D design was a challenge that caught my attention, so I started drawing letters with depth and experimenting with different styles. Since then, making letters is my greatest passion.

Do you have a speciality?

The design of personalised letters—the possibility of creating compositions through letters is a field to which I have focused on more.

Why have you chosen to specialise in logo design and custom lettering?

I think the simplicity of a logo and the complexity that can be a composition of letters means I can then add experience, and also the challenge of generating a brand that represents or symbolises a person or product motivates me to improve and learn.

What do you think are the most important characteristics for a successful logo?

The essence and the concept used in the development of the project.

Tell us about your career and how you discovered your talent?

My first foray into the world of design was in a printing press company. In my spare time I redesigned internet motivating phrases. I have to admit that I am a little embarrassed to see my first design attempts, but little by little I was experimenting with the modulation of typography and I achieved a decent level.

Even so I felt limited and began to draw letters, and in the process I realised that this was my thing. Since then, I have tried to create my own style. The constant practice, the late nights and self-motivation had a big, positive effect on my talent.

What is your main source of inspiration?

As a source of inspiration, I like to research projects done by other designers and illustrators. Animation, lettering and short films capture my attention. I know I’m focused on the world of lettering, but I’m fascinated with jobs that make me leave my comfort zone.

I can note that everyday life and experiences are a great engine at the moment of inspiring me and finding motivation.

How do you obtain new clients?

What has worked for me is posting my work on Instagram, Dribbble, Facebook, etc. I try to show quality and passion for what I do before quantity.

You were one of the first artists to ever use Affinity Designer for iPad. What were your first impressions?

There’s so much power, it’s incredible.

I praise the combination of vector and pixel, and working from the sketch to the final composition without leaving the app is wonderful. I love the transparency tool and the ease of creating noise. The power that the zoom performs is crazy, but what really takes the prize are the variety of possibilities when working with masks.

Since I started using the application, I have been able to optimise my time since I can focus on specific details of the work that I find.

“Take Creative Control” created by Jonathan Ortiz using Affinity Designer for iPad beta. This work featured in our Affinity Designer for iPad promo video.
What kind of design projects interest you?

I’m interested in typography design. My goal is to give life to a typographic family. Currently this is an alternative project that I’m working on which excites me.

How did you develop your style?

I researched the work of the old typographers. Along the way, I found out about the Acanthus font, and to this day it still has a great influence on my style. Certainly no one can see what is related, they simply helped me to develop a style that has originality and without relapsing into imitation. In the process I started experimenting with the shadows and giving a distinctive touch to the endings of my letters. From this point, I discovered the fascination of generating and accentuating the use of shadows in letters.

How large a role does sketching on paper play in your design process?

In the world of lettering sketching is my inspiration.

My works have always gone through sketches, using traditional tools such as brush, calligraphic feathers or down feathers, I can achieve a different style and finish, plus infinite possibilities that help me in the final work—It’s a quick idea of what we want.

“Hustle Bustle” sketch by Jonathan Ortiz.
What does your day consist of?

I wake up at 6am and after breakfast I go to work. It takes me exactly 2 hours to go from one point to the other, so I take the time to sketch any idea that comes to mind or write ideas for future projects. I finally finish my work at 6pm, and again the journey back home is where the magic of design continues.

Once at home, I continue with my work in my little studio—it can be the creation of a logo or a composition of letters. However, most of the time I’m required to personalise letters so between trial and error with different options of strokes and tools, I finally get to the point where I feel satisfied with the result. I can then finally relax, and my rest is usually between 1am or 3am.

Design is definitely a big part of my life.

Would you say it’s best to be comfortable adapting different styles of lettering or develop your own style?

Developing your own style is definitely one of the keys to success. No matter where we focus in the world of design, there will always be a void or a direction that nobody has seen, so we must take advantage of every opportunity to explore and experiment.

Lastly, if you weren’t a graphic designer, what would you be?

There are two possible options—a surgeon or a chef.

Surgeon, by family suggestion (but it never caught my attention), and a chef because I love food and cooking. Experimenting with the flavours is incredible; I hope I can explore this field in the future.

You can find more of Jonathan’s amazing work here.