Jeancarlo Ascorra: A Peruvian Artist with North and South American Sensibilities10 Jun 2014, Posted by Animation, Expert Interviews, Game Design, Graphic Design, HTML5, kids' media, Mobile App Development in
Jeancarlo Ascorra is the Art Director at, NorthSouth Studios (yes—my company), and has been for the last ten years. We were very lucky to find Jeancarlo, an artist who knows how to straddle two cultures and bring the both of best to his work. His very first job for us called for Disney-style illustration and we (and our client) were blown away by his talent. Before joining NorthSouth, Jeancarlo had eight years of Art Direction experience, with expertise in graphic design, creativity, illustration and advertising. Previously he worked at BBDO in Peru and freelanced at many other advertising and production agencies in Peru. He has a degree from IPP (Peruvian Advertising institute) in Graphic Design and Advertising.
- 1. In the past, you worked mainly in print. How did you make the switch to digital? Was it difficult to learn the new skills you needed? What were your early digital projects?
I began my career working in print, and doing illustration and storyboarding for advertising and production agencies here in Perú. When the digital era took off in the second half of the 90s, I was already working digitally. I built and designed advertising pieces and printed marketing materials using programs like Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, Macromedia Freehand and Corel Draw.
Around 2000 I started working in web design. I built a lot of pages with Macromedia Flash, which unlike HTML at that time didn’t restrict the typography available to you. The timeline interface let us make smooth animations, customize buttons and create website intros.
My early digital projects were advertisement and marketing pieces for many clients and agencies, and from the early 2000s on I worked on Flash animations and online educational lessons for many North American clients.
- 2. What are you most proud of in terms of career accomplishment?
I’ve been involved with too many successful projects to name just one. I’m proud of my organizational skills, and especially my ability to work with other creative people, such as graphic designers, illustrators and engineers. I particularly enjoy working with creatives at the beginning of their careers, and guiding them through the specifics of a project.
Since joining NorthSouth I have worked on many projects that were meant for multi-lingual, multinational distribution and that has been an exciting challenge. We design many things from the start knowing they will have to work around the world. This means planning for different letter/character sets, different text lengths (Spanish for example is much more wordy then English), related but sometimes different branded art, and cultural nuances that may make one approach fine in country X and bad in country Y.
I am also proud of my personal work. I draw, and paint in oil and acrylic.
I’ve learned from people around the world thanks to the internet. The internet is a good teacher. I think of a myself as an autodidact – technology changes so quickly these days that the Web has become an invaluable resource.
- 3. What is the biggest risk you have taken in your career? Did it pay off? How and why or why not?
I’ve taken a lot of small and medium risks in my career, but I’d describe them as controlled risks. We take risks on every decision we make, but if I’m honest, I would say I still haven’t taken a big risk.
- 4. We call this blog, Influences and Influencers, who are the people who have influenced you? Have you ever had a mentor? Can you tell us about him or her? Whose work or input has impacted you the most in your career and how?
I think I have a lot of little mentors rather than One Big Mentor. I’ve been influenced by designers, illustrators, painters, advertisers, and filmmakers from Peru and the entire world. I’ve learned from people around the world thanks to the internet. The internet is a good teacher. I think of a myself as an autodidact – technology changes so quickly these days that the Web has become an invaluable resource.
Specific artists that have had a strong impact on me include Bosch, Caravaggio, Van Gogh, Lautrec, Dali, Kandinsky, Mondrian, Malevich and some very visual filmmakers like Fellini, Kurosawa, Kubrick, Coppola, and Ridley Scott. Designers that have influenced me include J. Müller-Brockmann and Verner Panton. I’m also inspired by the “minimalist movement” and its application to web, graphic design, interface design, and industrial design.
- 5. What product or service have you seen lately that really excites you?
Responsive design for multi-platform, multi-browser websites is really exciting. I’m also really into the benefits of CMS systems. Lately I’ve been taking courses in HTML5 to keep up to date.
I’ve also been paying a lot of attention to quality app design. I’m interested in the processes that go into building mobile games and apps, particularly concept art.
- 6. What are you working on now?
Lots of projects right now. I’m working on a website portal with product reviews and social content. I’m creating user interfaces for a number of educational apps and games. I’m also working on marketing and web support on the NSS website, as well as its ongoing design, implementation and maintenance.
- 7. What advice would you give an aspiring artist or art director? If someone wanted to get into this field, how would you advise them to start?
Learn to work with other artists and creative people at every level, and keep generating new ideas.
- 8. You are a Peruvian whose work is intended mainly for North Americans. Do you see any difference between the kind of art Americans like and the kind South Americans like? What have you learned about American culture working with an American focused company?
In Peru, we have a rich artistic tradition, inspired by the pre-Hispanic and Inca cultures and I grew up with those influences. At the same time, I have also been deeply affected by European and American artists, so I do not find it difficult to understand US tastes. I know a lot about US culture, but not necessarily from working for US clients. Remember, in Latin America we grew up looking at North American movies and hearing North American music so we know about your life style and traditions. That cultural “immersion” helps prepare us to better identify the tastes and preferences of the US market.
That being said, I also do a lot of research to keep current on the state of the art in North America as well as Europe. I keep up to date with the latest web designs, games, advertising campaigns, education content, etc. In web and App design for example, currently there’s a strong global tendency for “Flat design”—simple and clean graphics. That makes sense because it facilitates optimizations for web and app development.
I like working with US companies because it gives me a chance to work with leading edge companies and try new things. Usually the US takes the lead in innovation and experimentation and I enjoy getting in on the ground floor with new tools and approaches.