About Simona Gabriela Buzatu
Simona Gabriela Buzatu is Brand Architect, Multimedia Designer and Developer, founder of Artvisiona.
Having an early and thorough education in fine arts (starting with secondary and high school “Nicolae Tonitza” in Bucharest, then naturally attending Fine Arts University “Nicolae Grigorescu” in Bucharest, Graphics department ), she started working as a Montage Editor in the studio of director Tudor Gramescu, discovering her passion for animation, montage and special effects.
One year later, we find her Art Director in Centrul National Media, where she developed graphics packages and TV identities for the three TV stations of the trust: National TV, N24 and Favorit TV.
Then followed her collaboration with Senso TV (now turned into online television), as Art Director, where, for one year, she developed everything related to the On-Air graphics of the station.
In 2006 she decided to work as a freelancer under the brand of Artvisiona, developing digital projects for online and off-line domains, collaborating with clients all over the world.
Simona Gabriela Buzatu is Brand Architect, Multimedia Designer and Developer, founder of creative studio Artvisiona.
1. How is it to be one of the first women freelancers online in a world dominated by men?
First of all, I would like to thank Chic-Elite for the opportunity they offered me to speak to your community.
I must admit that I had only to learn from men. From my father, my relatives, colleagues, friends, teachers, clients and last but not least, from my best friend, my husband.
I have never felt that men would be so different from women regarding intellect. Yes, biologically speaking, they have the advantage of being a little more calculated than women. But with practice and passion for knowledge, women can easily overcome barriers. Anybody has the potential of being intelligent if they want to. We are all people, so I don’t like to talk about them vs us, because we are differentiated only by concepts we invented.
As a freelancer, irrespective of gender, you must want to be passionate, interested, if not annoyingly curious. Secondly, you must be organized in all your aspects of life, to be able to manage them easily. Organizing plays an essential role, and indeed for women it can be a little harder, especially after adolescence, when we juggle with more tasks than men do. And last but not least, you must have a goal, a reason why you are doing something. The rest is just a process of getting to the finish line.
2. Looking back, how would you describe your journey so far?
I am glad, not only because I was among the first freelancers in Romania, but also because I managed to stay on this track. In 2005, together with my husband, we decided to become freelancers, after we had worked for some time in television. The work was easier with him, because he offered moral support, as well as help in the difficulties encountered in designing the new type of work, both of us being in the same domain.
I have had many clients who kept tempting me to give up this “madness” and get a job in their company. I still remember what one of them said: "I have seen other freelancers, but eventually they were employed. They didn’t last!" He knew little about me, because this message, meant to discourage me, made my ambition stronger.
If I have to make a realistic analysis now, it was a medium difficulty journey. A curve sometimes ascending, sometimes descending, depending on season, but also on my professional development. Just like anything else in life. I think this is the reason why I managed, the fact that I didn’t separate work from everyday life…because I don’t consider passion and curiosity for new things to be separated from me.
However, there were sacrifices, some say…I haven’t perceived them in this way. More exactly, I haven’t wasted time. I have worked almost all the time. Since the end of 2005, I have been to very few fun events, because I have used my time for my development.
I mention this thing because I am contacted very often by adolescents and their parents, who ask me what they should do? Where should they start to become professionals in this domain? And this is the first important thing. To be dedicated and serious, selfish with your time, because this is reality: missing out on fun events is not really a loss. If you change your way of thinking, and instead of investing time in having fun, you invest it in your passion, you will be successful. Maybe not in the first month, maybe not in a year, but surely you will get where you set your goal. And you will be surprised, along with the fact that you will not feel it as hard work, it will not be enough when you reach your goal, and you will go on to work for your next goal.
3. What exactly is your work ?
The official title given by the University of Arts is “graphic designer”, so I was supposed to do engraving and draw illustrations in pen and ink. Which I love doing, but it wasn’t enough for me. And so I chose the computer. Only the pen graphic designer has nothing to do with digital graphics. What I know now about the digital world I had to learn by myself.
My curious nature helped me, I tested all kinds of programs, practising and reading, and in the end I possess a range of abilities starting from editing, animation, digital painting, vectorial design, composition and design specific for TV, web design, programming, as well as deep knowledge of branding, marketing, SEO and online advertising. So, I know how to do many things, that I apply when the project requires. In the last few years I have concentrated on branding and web design, the current title being: Brand Architect, Multimedia Designer and Developer.
4. What were the hardest moments of your evolution?
The hardest moments in my evolution as a freelancer were those in the beginning, because I didn’t have a defined way of working, I didn’t know anything about personal branding and marketing. I understood in time (a long time) that it isn’t enough to create something good. First you need to have a method of finding both the client, and the project that are suitable for you.
5. Is it hard to be a woman and work on your own in Romania today?
It depends a lot on age, on the way you introduce yourself, on how much you learned in the domain you activate, on your self-confidence and, last but not least, on the clients you choose. There are two sides to the coin. I believe we must assume the responsibility that, in general, when failure happens it is our fault. If you analyze these things coldly, you will manage to change, adapt and next time to choose better.
6. What are the main values you advocate?
Basically, I believe in people, in their power to change, to evolve and to have a better future. Economy is based on intelligence. The number of intelligent people goes hand in hand with economic growth, which is well-being, and for this reason, I consider that it is important to promote Romania at it's real value. We have beautiful, smart and hard-working people in all the domains.
I don’t have a favourite type of projects. But I like challenges.
A brand specialist can be compared to a chef. As long as he knows the technics and has the necessary ingredients, he can do absolutely anything.
This is why it is important to be aware of a different approach, free of preconceptions, free of templates, when you work for the first time on a project, in a niche untouched before. Clients usually have a preset vision that I need to know about the industry to be able to deliver results. However, I discovered that being alert, and not familiar with the business ( which means not having preconceptions ) helps me in creating far better projects, more original and that lead to stunning results. Why?
Because I don’t come with usual solutions, with templates and things learned by heart. Nothing is worse than to bore your consumers. If you are too easy to predict, you risk “putting your consumer to sleep”. It is very hard to sell to a half-aware consumer. Efficient brands “wake up” consumers. People don’t respond enthusiastically to the out-dated, but they surely respond so to something unexpected, remarkable and different. This is the objective. And starting from this idea, I created the slogan Artvisiona: “It’s no longer enough to be good. You must be different.”
7. What is the project you feel closest to your soul?
All the projects have a part of me, smaller or bigger. Time spent on creation, a sequence of ideas and “a lot of soul”, as one client said.
I have just relaunched Artvisiona.ro, that turned from personal portfolio into creative studio, and in this process I remembered every project and client I worked with. I am fortunate and glad that I have clients who give me confidence, in other words, who understand that they have a problem and come to me for the solution.
Another thing I am glad about is the fact that they also offer me the time needed to create it. A good creative project requires a longer time to develop. I use this opportunity to thank my clients for their trust, that led to special works and to what Artvisiona is today.
Thank you Simona, for your time with us, and for the journey we covered together into the fascinating world of digital creativity.
Interview about web design – 13 January 2011
Interviewed by Ariel Constantinof
1. In the beginning tell me some things about you…
My name is Simona, I’m 29 and I have lived in Bucharest all my life. I have 15 years of studies in arts and 7 years of work as a graphic designer. When I take a break from the computer I’m captivated by a good book, a few sketches in ink on paper or some snapshots.
2. How did you get to “draw” sites? Where did this passion come from, if I may call it so?
It is a long story.
I have been attracted by the artistic side of things ever since I was a little girl, and this directed me to the Art School and Art University. I started working on the computer in 2000, when my father gave me one as a present. I was fascinated by the “undo” function, which I love even today.
Curiosity pushed me in many directions. I learnt print, 3D, animation, special effects and I worked in television as an Art Director and Creative Director.
Web design is a more recent discovery and I started creating sites out of necessity, trying to put together my portfolio when I decided to become a freelancer. Then I realised that web design was what I was looking for.
3. For a while you didn’t work as a freelancer, you were employed and you worked with important brands. How did you get to be a freelancer graphic designer ?
I worked for 3 years and a half in television, I learnt extraordinary things and I met special people. But eventually I didn’t have anything else to find and I got into routine. This is why I became a freelancer, so I could always work on interesting projects that help me stay creative, find solutions and break daily routine.
Of course I’m always happy to have a graphic project for TV, be it show credits, TV identity or TV news graphic package. TV animation and visual effects still are my first love.
4. Please tell me 3 reasons why it is better to be a freelancer.
Fortunately, I have a job that can be done in this way and I have only advantages. Freelancers can plan their day as they please, can choose clients, don’t have a fixed salary and if the domain allows, they can work with people everywhere in the world.
5. You don’t hear often about women who do programming… I myself was instantly proud of you, even before I met you. How do you feel being a woman in an industry “dominated” by men?
To be honest I haven’t met too many professionals in web design and programming in Romania. This is why I started to create websites a few years ago. Most of those who do websites and programming in Romania don’t have experience or they work full time, which doesn’t allow them to improve.
6. I often interview people who lead a double life: they have a job that covers expenses, and a passion that they monetize in time… How did you manage to monetize your passion so well that you can do only what you like? In other words : How easy was it to find a place in this industry?
I am one of the few people who have a nice job they love. Being a graphic designer brings me only joy and this helps me go on. I haven’t met difficulties . I was lucky because art and computer graphics have many things in common. But everything is about will and organization.
I think that no matter how good you are, you can be even better if you don’t stop. The secret is training, improvement and reliability. Every month I train myself with a series of tutorials where I feel I could do better.
7. What are your plans for the future? Will you continue on your own? Will you get assistants? Will you start a company?
I don’t know what the future has in store for me and I learnt to stop saying NO. But I’m not keen on having a company at this moment. My projects are based on originality, and everything you can find in my portfolio at artvisiona.ro is entirely created by myself. For this reason I believe that things would take a completely different direction if I had a company and assistants and I don’t wish that.
As a sure future plan, I am working on several interesting personal projects. The first project is already half a year into work: jurnal.artvisiona.ro where I discuss everything about TV graphics, websites, identity manuals, search engine optimization and other professional terms for everybody to understand.
Another project, great in all respects, has to do with art and I hope I can say more soon.
8. I’m doing this interview because I admire you. This is the reason why I did the other interviews ,too. I want to find out as much as possible about the people I admire, I want to hear their story and I want to be inspired by their attitude, to be able to act as they do. Who are the people you admire?
There are very many people worthy of admiration. I like people in different domains, who managed to become known because they are good and because they bring something useful in the world. Some may be Richard Rosenman, Joe McNally, Nick O’Neill, Paula Begoun şi Gary Vaynerchuk.
9. Your favourite quote or one you lead your life by?
I believe the best principle in life is: “Think big and outside the box”.
Web graphic designer interview – 21 May 2009
Interviewed by Luc Arnold.
1. How did you get started in web design?
That is a long story. Ever since I was a child I have been attracted by the artistic nature of things and this is what sent me to art school and college. I started working on the computer in 2000 when I had a new computer as a gift from my father. I was fascinated with what I could do and with the function “undo” which I still like. Curiosity led me in many directions. I learnt print, 3d, animation, special effects and I worked in television as Art Director and Creative Director. The web design is a recent discovery, and I started doing this out of need, trying to put together my portfolio, once I chose to become a freelancer. Since then I realized that web designing was all I was looking for actually.
2. When did you start designing websites ?
I started my first website in 2005. It was a personal minimal and artistic portfolio done in Flash.
3. What are the biggest challenges that you face in web design currently ?
I believe that the greatest challenge is the ongoing research in this fascinating field, learning new techniques and keeping up with what happens. It is a serious battle for the first rows where the best are.
4. Do you ever refer to yourself as a Front-end developer or a web designer? Do you code any of the web sites that you design currently? If so, what language(s) do you code in ?
5. Where did you go to school and has it helped you become a better web design professional?
I attended the secondary school and high school “Nicolae Tonitza” in Bucharest. Then followed The Fine Arts University “Nicolae Grigorescu” in Bucharest, Department of Graphic Design. Surely the 15 years of study were a great help. Studies matter a lot but they are just the first brick in the making of a web designer or a graphic designer. When I create something I want to do my best and for this reason I don’t think that the learning process ever stops.
6. Since you first started how has the web design industry changed? Has it changed for the better? If so, how? If not, please explain ?
There has been evident progress, all the work has become more complex and flexible.CSS and the design standards, such as W3C changed the way the web is made. The growing demand for web designing is clear proof of change for the better. Especially in my country where things are radically different. Even now when we are faced with the global economic crisis, online media are extremely cost efficient, compared to print or TV advertising.
How did it change ? I believe that people changed, and they made progress possible. The web market is dynamic and we go with it.
7. What are your favorite tools to use when designing a web project ? Why are they your favorite tools ?
Certainly my favorite tool remains the pencil or the graphic pad because they help me put my ideas into practice faster.In creating the layouts I use Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator, and I write the code CSS/XHTML in Notepad and Adobe Dreamweaver. Occasionally I use Flash for banner animation, photo galleries or “eye candy” elements.
8. How has your passion for graphic design and illustration helped you in web design projects ?
I like very much to integrate original elements in my web projects, whether they are illustrations made by hand or on the computer, 3d elements, photography collages or matte painting. My passion for graphic design helps me a lot because I do everything for pleasure and not as a constraint. Not many people can say that they love their job. For me design in general is a pleasure, a joy, an obsession, I enjoy doing what I do whether it is web design, compositing, 3d, video or print.