Pilar Zeta is a visual artist based between Berlin and Los Angeles. To date she has worked for numerous record labels including Island Records, Big Beat, Crosstown Rebels, Hotlfush, Get Physical and Ultramajic, designing record covers for the likes of Jimmy Edgar, Tiga, Roosevelt, Disclosure and many more.
In just a few years, Pilar has created striking artwork and packaging for key electronic musicians and promoters; launched her own multidisciplinary agency; co-founded a lifestyle brand Holographic Universe; and exhibited mixed media installations at galleries all over the world.
We caught up with Pilar Zeta to discover more about her journey into design and the development of her aesthetic. She also discusses her working relatinship with Jimmy Edgar, provides tips to those that are thinking of pursuing a career in graphic design and reveals her all time favourite works.
First off can you please tell us about your background and training in visual arts, graphic design and fashion? Where did you school, study, and gain experience in these art forms?
Since I was very little, I’ve been attracted to the visual world. I was focused on combining colours and styles. I used to draw a lot, and when it came to the point of colouring, people started to take notice on my perspective. It was the same thing with the way I dressed. I loved to dress myself from a young age, and I’ve been making my own clothing since the age of thirteen.
When I first discovered that I could relate all this creative world using a computer, that blew my mind. My first interaction was the “paint brush” in MS DOS. I would print the stuff and I would bring the software into the next level… In my early teens I learned Corel Draw, and Photoshop… By the end of high school I was already full on trained… So I never really went to college to learn graphic design.
I did a fashion course, which was funny because I would make everything on the computer while the rest of the people would do it by hand… It was fun but it only lasted 2 months, I’ve never been a fan of learning in an institutional environment, for me it was more about learning on my own… I also was a big fan of music, I was obsessed with my big brothers CD covers, and from early age I remember visualizing doing that for living…
At the age of 19 I got my first graphic design job, and learning by experience, I started to comprehend how everything worked and start finding my own visual identity.
You’re now an independent designer and are responsible for the visual identity and design for Jimmy Edgar’s record label Ultramajic as well as designs for Island Records, Big Beat, Crosstown Rebels, Hotlfush, and Get Physical. What’s the secret to work with these labels and artists?
I think once I found my own trademark, I felt really confident about myself and my own style. I think that was the reason why people started following my work and how I started to get more clients. Every piece I make, I would adore it for hours, and each work will express this adoration and good energy by itself. That’s why I felt it started spreading… I don’t think there is any secret, only that, when you are really happy with what you make, people can really feel it and everything starts manifesting all around.
In your biography you state that you’re fascinated with time and space, UFO’s and so forth. When did you get into this and who provoked it?
My mom is really into paranormal and metaphysics. It all started in the 90s, she claims that she got some contact with inter dimensional light beings. I was really young and also the youngest in my family and I got really influenced because I was the most connected to her. I started feeling that there was something else which was not tangible. Later on I discovered that this universe could actually inspire and influence me in all my work. That’s when I started to feel creative and express it.
Tell me about your working process, do you have a particular environment or mindset that you work in?
Yes definitely… Before starting any creative work, first thing I check is that my environment is suitable, all the things from outside needs to be on the right place. For me that’s a basic! I burn incense, then I do a meditation and I focus on the creative goal, and after that, I start designing. This is part of my every day ritual.
When you’re commissioned to design artwork, what’s the first thing you do? Do you listen to the music or study the artists and think about what they might be into? Is it a two way process, communicating with the label and artist about the design, or do you simply deliver a selection of works to choose from?
I definitely listen to the music. It’s very important. This way the art is synchronized and there is a synergy flowing. Usually the first art that I am happy with, I deliver. And usually the client is happy as well.
Which designers or artists did you grow up studying and admiring? What was it about their visual aesthetic that drew you to them?
I love Storm Thorgerson from Hypgnosis. He was the pioneer on merging the surreal art into music. He used to do all the artwork for Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and Alan Parson Project etc. I am obsessed with his work, especially because in the late 70s there was no Photoshop, so they will actually manipulate the images by hand or with very primitive software. Also all the art will give you a vibe that you can realize right away…. he made it. He has a very unique and recognizable style.
How would you describe your artworks for Ultramajic? To me they’re vibrant, bold collages, almost pop like.
Me and Jimmy have a little recipe that we always make sure is present when we design the art for Ultramajic. It needs to be ” fun, fashion, mystic, magic” and it fits perfect with all the stuff we do.
I’m assuming that most of your works are designed using software, what other processes and mediums do you employ?
It’s a little mix of everything. Drawing, scanning, painting. Also I make the sketch in my mind. Once I have it visually present in my head then I start using software. All the artwork is usually a mix of Photoshop, Illustrator, and Cinema 4D.
Looking at your most recent work, the Holographic Universe Jacket is definitely up there for me. It doesn’t look like it’s particularly easy to design a silk / wool bomber jacket. Can you explain the process behind making the jacket and what challenges you had to overcome?
I started doing fashion last year. My partner and I decided we wanted to put a brand together, so we created Holographic Universe. I realized that mixing artwork in fashion is not an easy task, but the results are incredible once you get it right. I had to basically imagine how it would look in 3D, which was quite new for me, as the textures always change the graphics. I would make the artwork and then paste it into a sketch and then every part of the garment has is own artwork / placement. So we had to grab the patterns and design each piece. It’s a really big challenge… But I’m so happy with the results. It’s what I’ve always dreamed.
What’s your overall aim in life?
My aim in life is to reach a higher state of consciousness where I can just get fed by the prana and the sun, and no need for external input to source my energy and my creativity. And also to be able to communicate with cats :)
Do you have any words of wisdom / warning to other graphic designers thinking about getting involved with music?
Just be very passionate about it, and have patience… Also don’t expect any emails on Monday.
Please can you go through the images you have provided us and tell us more about the context behind them?
“Falling in love with the dark side of the universe” – This is one of my favorite personal artworks.
“Codex Magica” – I’ve illustrated this artwork. It represents a masonic altar. One of my hobbies is to design altars.
“Metaphysix 1- Mentalism. (Ultramajic)” – I love this piece because it reflects the very basic principle of mentalism. “The all is mind, the universe is mental”
“The Effects of Absurd Memories” – This art is very special because the family on the background is my family. The little kid is my grandfather. This is one of my first personal digital art.
“Jimmy Edgar – Mercurio” – I love this artwork because it looks amazing. Jimmy and I did it together for Ultramajic.