Digital Design Talks : Coast to Coast

Digital Design Talks May 22 : Coast to Coast

On Wednesday May 23, 2013 VFS Digital Design presented another in its series, Digital Design Talks, featuring current and past students, as well as key industry representatives of the Design field. The theme for Wednesday’s talk was Coast to Coast. The two guest speakers, who presented to students from all the current classes, were Arm Sattavorn and Marcos “Boca” Ceravolo. Arm is a current student in the program (Class 26) and Boca, who just happened to be in town visiting from São Paulo, Brazil, is a graduate of the Digital Design program (Class 7) and now Partner / Head of Design of the São Paulo based creative powerhouse

Digital Design’s Head of Department Miles Nurse introduced the evening and the first speaker, current student Arm Sattavorn.

Arm Sattavorn, current Digital Design student from Bankok Thailand

Arm told his story about how he decided to come to the Digital Design program. He was working in the industry in Bangkok Thailand as a Motion Designer, doing mostly Typography — end credits for local films and international versions of trailers from Hollywood and elsewhere. He enjoyed the challenge of versioning, and in some cases improving on some of the work, but he inevitably felt unsatisfied with what he was doing. There were definitely positive moments in his 5-year work career, but there were also the not so positive moments.

Arm speaks about the positives and not so positives of his 5 year work experience

He felt he was capable of more, but he needed to be in the right environment that would push him more to grow. When he discovered that he was embarrassed to even own up to people he knew, that a reel shown at an event was his own work, he knew he had to do something. He put together a reel he was proud of and put it up online, but it didn’t get the attention he was hoping for. That’s when he started researching schools and found the VFS Digital Design program in Vancouver.

Thanat "Arm" Sattavorn

Arm prefers the weather here (!) and he’s already learning more about what he loves and wants to do. He’s learning some important lessons about Design: like the value of “making something wrong before making it right,” the beauty of simple design, and being “prepared for risky situations.” Arm wants a lot of followers, and we hope he gets them — with the work he’s doing now, we think it’s going to happen.

Marcos “Boca” Ceravolo Reviews some of his recent work

Then VFS Digital Media Specialist Danny Chan (also a grad from Class 2), who first started working at VFS when Boca Ceravolo first came to the Digital Design program, introduced him with some interesting history. Basically, Boca was making a name for himself already when he was in the program. His collaboration with fellow student Ryan Uhrich yielded very good results, and ended up a lot of followers, indeed (are you taking notes, Arm?).

Marcos “Boca” Ceravolo

Boca’s term 1 video Drop was featured by Youtube editors (which had Ryan in an acting role) and was a finalist in the 2007 Adobe Design Achievement Awards in San Francisco. The two then collaborated in term 4 on Typographics, which was chosen by as a front-page feature and received over 1 million hits in a day! And this was back in 2007! Then came their final project Duelity, which won a PopVox Award, an Adobe Design Achievement Award, an Animex Award and a Salazar Award. You can read about some of their Digital Design exploits here in past articles on oomph!

Boca talks about his final project Duelity

Despite all of that success, Boca is a very humble guy. He gives a lot of credit to his mentors and working collaborators. In fact, speaking of VFS, he said that he looked at it like he was at a Studio, and it was his job to create at least one portfolio worthy piece a term. He was impressed with the way the classes were all connected, and he saw his teachers more as mentors than teachers in the traditional sense.

The reason for his success is clear: his commitment to hard work, engrained in him from his education at VFS, continues today. Of course he had a few things to learn along the way, too. Before he came to VFS, after finishing university, Boca was also working in the industry, and like Arm, grew unsatisfied with what he was doing. He expected that he was going to be doing cool things all the time. But he learned quickly that it never is the case that you get to do that all the time. He came to VFS also because he wanted to be pushed to grow. When he got here he was amazed by the diversity of students and their talent. He was so inspired that he just wanted to find a way to show their great work to the world. He encouraged his fellow students to send their work to award competitions. He knew that even if they didn’t win, their work would be out in the world for people to see.

Boca Ceravolo

After he graduated, he went to work in Denmark, which culturally was quite different from his homeland Brazil. But he learnt to mesh together the clean simple Scandinavian style with the brash colourful Brazilian style. He moved back to Brazil to work on the agency side and noticed that the “advertising guys” were making a lot of money, but didn’t really seem to know what they were doing. So he saw an opportunity and started his own company ( He went and proposed the startup with a couple of his old bosses, and he hasn’t looked backwards since.

Of course, he still doesn’t exactly get to do only cool stuff every day, and when you’re a partner in a company your responsibilities are a little different. Sometimes the demands are such that you have to give that cool work to somebody else to do so that you can maintain the business itself.

Consulado Landing page

Boca showed us some very interesting examples from the company’s portfolio (and noted, not all the work they do gets into the portfolio — there is work that is important to keep the company in business, but the type of work you put into your portfolio signifies the kind of work you actually want to attract). Check them out for yourself here. One of his favorites was a campaign to create some spots for a contest on Brazilian MTV, producing personalized variations on the MTV logo — Check it out here.

There was a rich selection of examples with great detail and valuable lessons. Boca was also very generous with his time, staying on a bit late to answer students’ questions. It’s a shame if you missed it, but maybe we’ll see you at the next Digital Design Talks. Of course, you can always find out about it here on oomph!

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