In this article we have a Designer Interview With Juan Carlos Pagan who is a New York-based Designer, Typographer, and Creative Director. He received his BFA from Parsons School of Design in 2006 and completed his postgraduate studies in typeface design at The Cooper Union in 2011. Juan has been honored for his work by The Type Directors Club, Communication Arts, The ADC, One Show, Graphis, Cannes Lions, Clios, Fastco, and Print Magazine among others.
— The Logo Creative™ (@thelogocreative) October 9, 2019
In 2013 Juan received The prestigious Art Directors Club Young Gun Award, That same year he was named the top of Adweek‘s Talent 100, and was subsequently nominated for Print Magazines New Visual Artist 20 Under 30. In 2018 He received the Type Directors Club Ascenders Award which recognizes the work of designers who are 35 years of age and under for their remarkable achievement in design, typography, type design, and lettering.
He is currently the founding partner and Executive Creative Director of Sunday Afternoon. He previously held Head of Design and Creative Director positions at, 72andSunny NY, Deutsch NY, and DDB NY. Juan currently serves as a board member of The Type Directors Club.
The Logo Creative – Hi Juan, It’s great that you are taking part in our designer interviews. I have followed you for quite some time and love the work you create.
Juan Carlos Pagan – Hi Andrew, Thank you for reaching out, and for the kind words. Yes, I’m delighted to be doing an interview for The Logo Creative
The Logo Creative – What was the turning point in your life when you decided to become a designer and how did you proceed?
Juan Carlos Pagan – I’m not sure it was much of a turning point so to speak. I was enrolled at Parsons School of Design and I just decided to major in Communication Design. It seemed like something I’d like, and I figured if I didn’t like it I could always switch majors. Turns out I liked it.
The Logo Creative – What does your day consist of?
Juan Carlos Pagan – I wake up, take a shower, have some coffee, and catch up on a few emails. Then I head to the Sunday Afternoon studio which is located downtown in SoHo. Once I get to the office I check in with the team on projects we have going on, and we get to work. On a good day, I only have one or two meetings. On not so good days I’ll have many more.
The Logo Creative – Are you a morning person or night owl and is there a reason why?
Juan Carlos Pagan – Night owl. No real reason I’ve just never been a morning person.
The Logo Creative – What was the first logo you ever designed?
Juan Carlos Pagan – Hmmm, you know what. I don’t know if I have or know that first logo I design. It was likely a logo for assignment for one of my undergraduate classes. I don’t have it but I’m sure it was terrible.
The Logo Creative – What is your favourite logo you have designed?
Juan Carlos Pagan – To be honest. I don’t have a favorite. Each of the identities that I have had the good fortune to work on brings me joy in one way or another. They each taught me something.
The Logo Creative – What is your favourite logos of all time?
Juan Carlos Pagan – Pretty much any logo Herb Lubalin designed. The “Families” logo, and the “Mother&Child” logotypes certainly sound out. I also really love and Lance Wyman’s Mexico 68 Olympics logo.
The Logo Creative – Can you describe or give us an overview of your logo design process?
Juan Carlos Pagan – I normally start out by sketching a few ideas out on paper. Then I quickly jump to the machine. Once I have a few decent ideas I like to work in Adobe illustrator. I usually make a lot of variations and options. I really enjoy exhausting every possible idea. Then I narrow them down to my top select which will make it into the presentation.
The Logo Creative – What brands do you most admire and how do they influence your creative thinking?
Juan Carlos Pagan – Nasa for sure. It’s hard to not be inspired by space exploration. Also, Nasa mission patches are the coolest things. I collect them.
The Logo Creative – What do you consider your most successful design project, and why?
Juan Carlos Pagan – I consider a project successful if my clients and myself both enjoy working together, and if we’re both happy outcome.
The Logo Creative – How long does it take to complete the average logo design project from start to finish?
Juan Carlos Pagan – I tend to work on full brand Identity systems these days and on average the identities will normally take anywhere from 6-7 weeks to complete. This, of course, depends on the scope of the projects. I’ve worked on identities that last 6-7 months
The Logo Creative – What are you recommended design books to read?
Juan Carlos Pagan – Anything other than graphic design books. Read fantasy, read philosophy, read fiction, read about history, read about economics, or architecture. Just read anything.
The Logo Creative – Which software do you use frequently and is there any you would recommend to designers?
Juan Carlos Pagan – I normally use the Adobe Creative Suite, but I’ve began messing around with Cinema 4D
The Logo Creative – What is your favourite style of logo design? And why?
Juan Carlos Pagan – I don’t really have a favorite style. I like smart identity systems, and there are a host of different ways to make smart identity systems that span every style imaginable.
The Logo Creative – What is your daily inspiration when you design?
Juan Carlos Pagan – Music, I need music on when I’m designing. It helps a lot.
The Logo Creative – When you’re not designing do you have a favorite free time activity you like to do?
Juan Carlos Pagan – I enjoy biking, and running a lot. Activities that force me to be outside.
The Logo Creative – What was the biggest challenge you ever faced on a project?
Juan Carlos Pagan – My biggest challenge was once realizing that I wasn’t the right designer for a particular client. It’s tough to say no to nice people who want to hire you, but sometimes it’s not the right fit. I’ve learned this the hard way.
The Logo Creative – In your opinion what’s the best and worst part of your job as a designer?
Juan Carlos Pagan – The best part is that I get it to make things for a living. It still blows my mind how lucky I am. People give me a check to make things for them. I get to interact with so many different people with such different interests, and they teach me about their passion. It’s a real pleasure.
The Logo Creative – Who is the most inspiring person to you and why?
Juan Carlos Pagan – This is going to sound corny, but the older I get the more my parents inspire me.
The Logo Creative – Who is your favourite graphic designer and why?
Juan Carlos Pagan – That would have to be Herb Lubalin. The way he was able to tell stories with typography is still some of the most impressive work ever made.
The Logo Creative – What’s your favourite design quote or quote in general, and do you have a mantra or saying you live by?
Juan Carlos Pagan – “Amateurs wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work” – Chuck Close
The Logo Creative – In less than 10 words what is graphic design?
Juan Carlos Pagan – The skill of telling stories using shapes, photos, and typography.
The Logo Creative – What steps did you take to start your graphic design business? Did you have to make any sacrifices on your journey?
Juan Carlos Pagan – I’ve been very lucky, I’ve had a lot of great prior experiences before I decided to start Sunday Afternoon. I used all of my past roles running design departments to inform how I wanted to run and build my design practice. Sure many sacrifices were made. Mostly a loss of sleep.
The Logo Creative – Do you have any regrets? Is there anything you would have changed early on in your career?
Juan Carlos Pagan – I suppose I do have some regrets but none that stick out as significant.
The Logo Creative – If you could go back in time, what would you tell your younger self?
Juan Carlos Pagan – I’d tell myself to experiment more, take more risks, make more mistakes, make more weird things.
The Logo Creative – What’s the most important piece of advice you have received as a designer that’s helped you?
Juan Carlos Pagan – Take your work seriously, but don’t take yourself seriously.
The Logo Creative – What would be your advice for new Logo and Graphic Designers?
Juan Carlos Pagan – Make a lot of work, and make ever projects count.