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Interview with Potto

Roberto Pérez Curbelo (aka Potto) studied visual communication design at the Superior Institute of Design of the University of Havana, ISDi. He has developed works that address the graphics of plastic arts exhibitions, book covers, design of serial publications, spots and movie and theater posters.

First of all, could you tell us a bit about yourself? Where are you from?

My name is Roberto Pérez Curbelo, and they’ve called me “Potto” since I was little. I’m from Esquina de Tejas, a neighborhood in Cerro, Havana, Cuba, where the sun doesn’t scorch, and we’re all “asere.”



How did you come to do what you do today? Did you grow up watching a lot of movies?

I became interested in graphic design through my cousin Luis Daniel. I have memories of watching him work on his academic projects and having a great time. I fell in love with the atmosphere of his scholarship, where everyone was working on different projects, and creativity was everywhere. I wanted to experience that too. When I was a child, my dad would draw characters on paper for me, which I would then cut out and use as my toys. I think that influenced me to pursue illustration, the ability to create different worlds. Cuban cartoons are undoubtedly a part of me; even at 25, I still remember lines from characters from 15 years ago.




Have you taken significant risks to move forward?

Before studying design, I studied psychopedagogy for two years. It was a tough decision to make the change and start from scratch, but I was very sure that I wanted to study at the Higher Institute of Design (ISDi).



Where do you draw your inspiration from? How would you characterize your work?

In Cuba, poster art was a form of expression that was at the forefront of the visual arts in the 1960s. Authors considered part of the Cuban poster school had different styles and resources with which they found visual solutions for various political, social, and cultural themes. That influence is still very much present today. My work is always marked by the humor that characterizes Cubans, by having a style that is still evolving, and by being influenced by illustrators and designers in Cuba whom I greatly admire.




Are the sources different for your work and your private projects?

Since my training has been as a visual communication designer, I encounter different assignments that I must approach in distinct ways. I certainly enjoy projects where I have the freedom to find solutions through more personal expressive features.




Well, the last thing to ask is: What are you currently working on?

Currently, I am working on my diploma project, the final project of my university studies. It involves creating a communication campaign for the 32nd International Book Fair in Havana, which is an immense dream and a huge professional opportunity for me.

Photos: Potto

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