Interview with Oscar Ramos Orozco, Chief Curator of Behance

by . April 2nd, 2014

Behance, one of the leading creative portfolio platforms today has been a huge source of creative inspiration and has paved the way for discovering and showcasing the best of the creative industry has to offer. With it’s wide scope and huge community of creatives, being featured on their main page and curated galleries can open a lot of opportunities. With thousands of project uploads every single day, how does Behance review and select which projects to feature? YTD talked to the man who has the best answer, Behance’s Chief Curator, Oscar Ramos Orozco.

Oscar Ramos Orozco

New York-based illustrator and graphic designer, Oscar Ramos Orozco is most responsible on reviewing the projects we see getting featured on Behance’s main gallery and various “Served” sites. Oscar has been a part of the Curation Team since he joined Behance way back in 2008. He graduated from the Universidad de Barcelona with a degree in philosophy and started a PhD in art history. After working for ten years in bars and restaurants and traveling the world for academic researches on culture and history, Oscar became a part of the growing Behance Network with focus on curation in the digital age.

In the interview below, Oscar shared to us some notes about his creative journey, how the Curation Team works, some tips on uploading “feature worthy” projects on Behance and his creative inspiration and influences.

[pullquote]Oscar Ramos Orozco | Photo by Joao Canziani

The more time you spend on it, the better it gets, but if you spend too much, it never happens.[/pullquote]

YTD: Hi Oscar, welcome to You The Designer! How’s New York?

OSCAR: Hi, first of all thanks for the attention to my work. New York is tough, vibrant and full of opportunities, a very good place to be if you want to do something and are committed to it.

YTD: Your work is a blend of illustration and graphic design. Tell us a short background regarding your journey on the way to the creative world.

OSCAR: My first interest was architecture, but by the end of high school I was drawn away by literature, writing, and philosophy, which I got my degree in. As I tend to be driven more by aesthetics, my studies began shifting towards art, contemporary mostly, and design. This academic interest turned into practice by accident: a friend asked me if I could make a logo for him. Shortly thereafter I was doing all the graphic, industrial, and interior design for his company which lead to other requests for this kind of work. Then I moved to New York to work for Behance.

Oscar Ramos Orozco

YTD: Personal question, how do you usually start your day?

OSCAR: With a coffee. I go to my computer, check my email, the newspaper – I read mostly “El Pais” – and Behance in no particular order. I start to work immediately after that.

YTD: You’ve traveled the world through your academic researches. How your exposure to various cultures and art history molded you to become the creative person as you are today?

OSCAR: Those experiences molded me as a person, not only as a creative. But if creativity consists in making connections, to combine things already existing, the more elements you have to connect, the better. The key to solving a creative problem can be found anywhere, but knowing alternate solutions from different cultures inevitably widens your view.

Oscar Ramos Orozco

YTD: What are your creative inspirations? What do you usually do to stay inspired?

OSCAR: As you may know, at Behance we are not interested as much in inspiration as we are in realization. Our think tank the 99U  and our yearly conference in New York are dedicated to productivity for creative professionals. There are methods and adjustments to your routine and mindset that can be very helpful in creating things. But for the pure inspirational part I travel, go to museums and exhibitions as much as I can, learn about and study many different subjects, and try to be aware of the latest trends in every aspect of culture. Also, as Behance Head Curator I view a few thousand projects every day.

Oscar Ramos Orozco

Oscar’s office setup


YTD: You joined Behance Network years ago. How did you become part of the team?

OSCAR: I’ve been a friend of Matias Corea, Behance cofounder, for many years; we are both from Barcelona. When he and the other co-founder Scott Belsky started the network, I uploaded some projects and one of them got a lot of attention. That helped Matias convince Scott that I would be a good addition to the team as curator for the network and the galleries, which they were planning to launch. I started selecting feature-worthy projects from a few hundred ones uploaded each day for an early version of the network. Eventually, we launched the Served Sites.

Oscar Ramos Orozco

YTD: How does curation on Behance works? How does the team review thousands of project uploads every day?

OSCAR: Since I started curating, I realized the fairest way to select the best projects would be to review every single project uploaded. I also tried to systematize Matias’ ideas about our editorial line, creating clear guidelines and rules for the curation, which could be conveyed, trusted, and followed. Today Nami Berglund, Behance co-curator, and I view over a hundred thousand projects each month and select feature-worthy ones for more than seventy categories.

Curation in the Digital Age from Behance on Vimeo.

Meanwhile, Behance developers are constantly improving our back-end tools but the main one we use is what we call the “queues.” The queues are galleries of Behance project covers where we save the selected ones to be featured for each category. In these galleries we can rearrange the order of the projects to control when and at what frequency they are published on each site.

YTD: What’s the most fulfilling part of being in the Curation team?

OSCAR: There is no doubt about the answer to this question: we help people. We help creative professionals promote their work and we push them to be better creatives. Nami and I receive many emails daily thanking us for being featured and for all the work we do at Behance; that is fulfilling.

Oscar Ramos Orozco

YTD: Being featured in Behance’s main gallery and Served Sites is like winning an award. Are there some points you could advice our readers to make their projects “feature-worthy”?

OSCAR: First of all, be aware that your Behance portfolio is the face you show to your potential recruiters: keep it professional. Presentation, at Behance, is as important as the work; we have the responsibility to showcase only projects that give justice to the work they are illustrating. A Behance project is a presentation of a single and clear creative work or concept, for example, an identity for a company, an art exhibition, a photographic documentary, etc., not a collection of works as in a portfolio. A single image does not constitute a project either. There’s some information about the curation process on our team blog and on my Behance profile.
YTD: What’s in your music playlist?

OSCAR: You can find absolutely everything on my playlists; I listen to a lot of different styles of music. What’s never missing is Glenn Gould’s “Goldberg Variations,” Pau Casals’ Bach cello suites, Ornette Coleman’s “The Shape of Jazz to Come,” Joao Gilberto, Vinicius de Moraes, Chet Baker, Miles Davis, Tom Waits, Billie Holiday, Camaron de la Isla…

Oscar Ramos Orozco

YTD: Who is your creative hero?

OSCAR: I’m not as reverential as I used to be in my youth, but if I had to mention some graphic designers, they would be Jan Tschichold and Otl Aicher. I think Tschichold’s “Form of the Book” should be mandatory for every editorial design student. Aicher, who created the foundation to the Braun line of products before Dieter Rams took the lead, was responsible for the identity of 1972 Olympics in Munich, where the mascot and the pictograms for each sport were first introduced, and was the creator of Rotis, the first coordinated type system of sans and sans-serif. In addition, he wrote a book about almost every project he led, from Scandinavian kitchens to typography, with a captivating critical spirit.

Oscar Ramos Orozco

YTD: Being exposed to a lot of creative projects on Behance, where do you see design in the next ten years?

OSCAR: Even more since Behance became part of Adobe, we feel that we are some of the people shaping the future of the creative world with every decision we make. Just as creative software has become an online resource available across platforms and as Behance has changed the way creatives get discovered and hired, we are now developing the products and services that will change the way people create in the future. I’m sure in ten years it will be no different.

Oscar Ramos Orozco

YTD: Random favorites:

FOOD: Escudella. A catalan stew.
BOOK: “Hyperion” Friedrich Hölderlin.
MOVIE: A funny one: “Down by Law” of Jim Jarmusch and a serious one: “Mother and Son” by Alexander Sokurov.
BEHANCE PROJECT: Instead of my favorite project, can I tell you a project that is not at Behance yet? I would love to feature the works of Bill Viola or Gabriel Orozco (we are not related in any way).

YTD: Give us one important creative lesson you’ve learned throughout your career so far.

OSCAR: The more time you spend on it, the better it gets, but if you spend too much, it never happens.

Oscar Ramos Orozco

YTD: Thanks Oscar for spending some time with us. Any piece of advice to starting designers out there?

OSCAR: Thank you Kerby, what about: Rules are important: make your own.

SEE ALSO: Interview with Karl Isaac, Adobe’s Head of Brand Strategy
Share us your thoughts through the comments below and might as well suggest some artist(s) you want us to feature next!