Designer of the Week: João Magalhães

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PRINT’s latest Designer of the Week spent his childhood lost in his own world of doodles, and it’s that same dreamer spirit that makes him the talented art director and designer he is today. Read on for his thoughts on finding that “perfect insight that nails a human truth,” his hopes for the future that a lot of us probably share, and the details about his work on a 30-minute commercial (one you’ll most certainly want to see if you haven’t already).

João Magalhães

Name: João Magalhães

Name of Firm: Ogilvy & Mather

Location: Born and raised in Brazil, based in New York City


Design school attended: Miami Ad School

(Miami & New York) and Universidade UNA (Belo Horizonte, Brazil)

How would you describe your work?

I [majored] in graphic design and advertising art direction. As a result, I can easily navigate both worlds. My work philosophy is all about fully diving into projects because to me, great work takes focus, dedication and a healthy dose of bravery.

My goal is always to use these strengths and apply them to the brands that I work with.

Where do you find inspiration?

Everywhere. It’s hard to pinpoint one exact thing that inspires me; most of my inspiration comes from non-design activities. I try to find inspiration in whatever I see, and whenever I’m struggling to come up with an idea, I go out for a walk to get some fresh air, just letting it flow and see where it takes me.

Seriously, a tired mind is like a barrier, and inspiration comes from situations in life where I have felt calm and at piece. Also music—it can get me in the right mood. It takes me away from the world around me, and that’s when my imagination runs wild.

Who are some of your favorite designers or artists?

I’ve been finding a lot of inspiration in the amazing work of El Grand Chamaco, a 3D illustrator from Mexico, and he’s the reason I have recently started studying 3D.

But my absolute favorite designers are Stefan Sagmeister and Jessica Walsh. They look at every project differently, and I definitely love how they use hand type and humor.

I’m also a big fan of Paul Rand with his spectacular and minimalist branding work, and Saul Bass, the master of suspenseful title sequences with his iconic style.

Do you have a favorite among all the projects you’ve worked on?

It’s hard to select a favorite. Most of the projects that I have worked on have something memorable that make them special somehow. But I’m quite fond of the first work I did when I joined Ogilvy. I was chosen to work on a huge project for the global company Qualcomm.

We created “Lifeline,” a 30-minute commercial/product demo disguised as a psychological thriller, written and produced in partnership with Armando Bo, the Oscar-winning producer of Birdman and The Revenant.

To date, the full film has been viewed more than 100 million times, and according to The New York Times it was a very clever and innovative way of advertising a product, by creating content that is compelling to the audience and at the same time highlights the features of the product.

work by Designer of the Week João Magalhães

Is there a project that stands out to you as having been the biggest challenge of your career so far?

The biggest challenge is always to get to the big idea, to find the perfect insight that nails a human truth. And it’s a challenge that will always be there, no matter the budget, the deadline, and the resources you have.

And I think every project offers a surprise, and I see it as a new challenge and as well as a possibility to learn. The harder the better.

A project that stood out to me as having been a big challenge was a campaign that I created to raise awareness of the dangers of texting while driving. The reason it was challenging is because there are so many good campaigns about the same issue that is really hard to produce good work that stands out. And this one was internationally recognized by many advertising award shows and published by the prestigious Luerzer’s Archive.

What do you hope to accomplish in the future?

I want to be among the best in the field and hopefully win all the prestigious awards. When I get there, I would like to work from home in a quiet place on top of a mountain with at least 10 dogs in my backyard.

What’s your best advice for designers today?

Work hard and be nice to people. In all walks of life, kindness goes a long way.

work by João Magalhães
work by João Magalhães

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