Name(s):Arvi Raquel-Santos

Education Background (school / self taught, etc):
Syracuse University, BFA in Illustration with a minor in Business Management — I took a few design classes in school, design really came afterwards with on-the-job training and some very kind people along the way that took the time to mentor me.

Where you first worked and when (visual/graphic design job, etc):
My career started In New York City and my first job out of school was a Jr. Interactive Design… I lasted 3 months. I then moved to a small design firm working on movie posters and fashion.


Favorite book ever (design or non-design related):
Design Form & Chaos by Paul Rand

Recommended design / thinking / creativity / illustration book(s):
There’s a lot! A few of my favorites in the current rotation are:

  • Design Form & Chaos by Paul Rand
  • Creativity for Designers by Mark Oldach
  • Made You Look by Stefan Sagmeister
  • 79 Short Essays on Design by Michael Beirut
  • Tibor Kalman: Perverse Optimist

1. What made you decide to do what you do?
I read Design Form & Chaos by Paul Rand at the MoMA in NYC one afternoon. I read that book from cover-to-cover and something about it just called to me and it felt like the right thing. Ironically enough, I didn’t really like my first design class in school.

2. What’s your process for conceiving new designs/projects?
My process is kinda odd… a lot of times I try not to think about the problem so you can find me trying to find some sort of distraction to keep my mind preoccupied, ie. staring at the wall (seriously). I’ve found that I first need to understand the story from a narrative point-of-view before thinking about the aesthetics. I’ve found that the key to my process is to not think about the design problem and to approach the problem as if I don’t know anything about it. It may mean that I look in the wrong places for the answers or asking the dumb questions but it allows me to keep an open mind and to uncover the truth in a way that is simple, thoughtful and hopefully, unexpected.


3. What do you regret not learning while you were in school?
Design. I sometimes wish that my design training was a little more formal and structured rather than figuring it out along the way.

4. What’s your most valuable ability? i.e. conceptualization, hand/computer skills, etc.
I’d like to think my most valuable ability is in develop ideas but to be honest, I think those that have worked with me are better suited to answer this question.

5. What, in your opinion, is the most exciting aspect of the art/design world right now?
Wow, there’s really a lot to be excited. To me, the most exciting aspect of design these days is the realization that design has the ability to affect change.

6. If you could move anywhere right now, in consideration of the art/design scene, where would you go?
That’s kind of a tough question because I’m happy with where I am right now. There’s always a need and a want to do something more, and to do something else, but I think it’s more important to keep things simple, be mindful of the present and to appreciate what one has.

Other than design, I’d like to move to Zermatt, Switzerland so I can snowboard all day and eat my up and down the mountain all day long.

Sappi_ITM 001 Sappi_ITM 002

7. What’s your daily routine?

  • Wake up.
  • Kick myself for going to bed late.
  • Take a shower.
  • Get dressed.
  • Check Twitter,, Facebook, and
  • Make coffee.
  • Make the bed.
  • Realize I’m running late.
  • Walk to work.
  • Arrive about 10 – 15 minutes late (bad habit).
  • Check & respond to email.
  • Work.
  • Think about lunch.
  • Do more work.
  • Think more about lunch.
  • Do more work.
  • Eat lunch.
  • Do more work.
  • Eat a snack.
  • Check & respond to more email.
  • End the work day (whenever that is) and walk home.
  • Work on AIGA stuff.
  • Relax.
  • Sleep (whenever that is, I usually go to bed pretty late).
  • Repeat.

8. What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you, regarding design or otherwise?
This is advice that I received when I graduated and started looking for a job:

“Don’t worry about the money. Or the fame. Find someone to nurture you and never loose that fire.” – John Waters

MacBook Pro 15" 001

9. Who would you call a mentor / attribute as the inspiration in how you work / do things?
There’s been a lot over the years. I’ve picked up something from everyone along the way. The most obvious inspiration is Paul Rand. To name a few, my key mentors have been: Jon Wretlind, Bill Tomlinson, Bob Kellerman, Tom Laidlaw, Michael Weymouth and John Bielenberg.

10. If you had just one piece of advice for students / new grads, what would it be?
Find what you love about design (or whatever) and do it. Life is too short to wait for something to happen.