Introducing Vicente Gasco Gomez, a product designer, fabrication lab director, and 3D printing professor at Atlantic University College. The critically acclaimed institution is well known for its specialization in digital arts degrees and master programs such as Graphic Design, Video Game Design, Animation, Photography, and Cinematography.
The Puerto-Rican based university made Gomez feel right at home, having roots in the Caribbean territory known for its colorful colonial buildings, sprawling beaches, and century-old fortresses. The designer says: "All of our team members are from Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico has been under economic recession for more than a decade and many needs regarding diversity in industries are not met or attended efficiently due to this. In our case, I believe this was a deciding factor on why we chose to design and develop a project like Patito Feo which not only promotes inclusion in education but also on how newer technologies can play a role in attending particular necessities,” says Gomez.
When asked about the artist’s proudest piece to date, the answer is clear. “Patito Feo of course. [From] all of the solutions it encompasses, the level of detail invested in the project, [as well as] working together with a team of colleagues that I admire—it all makes me really proud,” he says. It sounds to us like the contribution fits the cause, but how did the designer’s emergence in the realm of graphic illustration begin? “I did both a bachelor and master’s degree in Architecture. I was exposed to digital fabrication technologies during graduate school and that had a big influence on my decision to focus my career on industrial design and product development,” says Gomez. From there the web illustrator formulated a clear-cut plan to execute his visions. As for his steps: “I try to use design as a problem-solving tool. For every project, I start to outline what problem or purpose I'm trying to solve as a designer. I list must-have features as priorities and work on them first,” Gomez says. Using 3D printing, his most valuable tool of the trade, the web specialist implements a straightforward approach when it comes to design; for example, “As a product designer with a 3D printing lab, my design approach is very iterative. I have the tools to digitally design ideas, print them and put them to the test,” G says.
While other inspirations in the field have influenced this designer’s approach, including Dieter Rams and Donald Norman, the biggest influence has been from the experience gained from his peers. For example, “Experience with my colleagues as well as research [is key] when making design decisions, and I try to support them through research whenever possible.” Staying a part of a community allows Gomez to stay on top of the latest design trends as well. When it comes to social inspiration the web designer tells us: “I consume most of my design news and trends through a curated feed in social media following both magazines and designers. I also receive an email newsletter, reading, and online courses. “But it’s not all work and no play for the Puerto Rican born artist, and things such as “photography, fashion, fitness, music, literature and outdoor activities such as hiking and camping” are just a few outlets to keep his creative juices flowing. To stay inventive under pressures of the job, Gomez explains: “No matter the amount of work, as designers we need to keep motivated and creative. Taking a break and incurring in other activities and hobbies help me refresh and refocus.”
Another well-known stress factor can stem from client opposition. How do you respond when a client is problematic? —we ask. “Communication from the beginning is key. Receiving harsh criticism from a client might be a signal of miscommunication. Client expectations need to be discussed upfront,” he says. Sometimes all it comes down to is carefully convincing a client to trust the better judgment of the professional. To do so Gomez believes, "Designers should also embrace the role of educators with their clients. When you can explain your design decisions in terms of communicability, functionality, and ease of use, it’s hard not to be trusted by your clients.” Helping consumers find the solution they seek is one big perk of the trade, for what Gomez enjoys most is this kind of customer satisfaction. The graphics guru elaborates, “An opportunity to attend a myriad of problems through product design never bores me. The diversity of products and solutions that clients are looking for allow a constant tending to of different problems, research, and learning." And continual learning is key. The best advice ever heard and worth repeating is simple: "Fail forward,” he says, as moving forward rather than back is an essential motto for any entrepreneur. “Make best of failures, learn from them and make sure the next time you fail you're closer to success,” he adds.
What can we look forward to in terms of some personal and professional goals for the future? “I'm currently looking into making less static 3D printed products and allowing users to interact with them. Augmented reality + 3D printing is something I'm looking into for future projects!” says Gomez. For more on the talents and achievements of Vicente Gasco Gomez, visit the AUC webpage at atlanticu.edu/vicentegasco.com