Nidia Dias is a Portugal-based art director and designer of mind-melting abstract 3D art for an impressive rap sheet of clients like Microsoft, Nike, Apple, Adidas, and Samsung, to name a few.
We dove deeper into Nidia’s meteoric rise as an artist, how she approaches her work, and where she finds inspiration, all while navigating life as a working mom.
ROVE:Â Could you tell us a little about where you’re from?
ND: I’m from a small city in Portugal, about 30 min drive from Porto which is the second biggest city. So growing up there wasn’t much going on in my town (though that is changing now), but being close to Porto always made it special.
ROVE:Â Â Growing up in a small town in Portugal, what was that like? What would you do for fun?
ND:Â Hang out with friends haha, my parents had me learning music, so I started with organ (not sure why haha), then I saw my brother playing piano, so asked to change to that one year later, and then saw a kid playing guitar and decided that was actually what I wanted to play, but realized the school in my town only tought classic music and it wasn’t something I enjoyed ðŸ˜„ My parent’s also had me learn english after school. So yeah did a few things. And once I was a teenager we would get the train to Porto and would go to the cinema.
ROVE:Â Hahaha, playing the organ. That’s a good party trick. It sounds like the arts had a large presence in your childhood — when did you know you were going to become an artist?
ND:Â Very late actually, or I think it’s late. it was around when I was 16 I believe. I had always drawn random stuff, did collage and things like that, but never really saw it as something I could pursuit. And Design was definitely something I didn’t even know it existed by then. So at the time I was considering maybe going to engineering, and I was always buying this magazines that came with cds that had trial software, and would try a few and just have fun. On one of those magazines the main theme was web design, and it came with an app to make websites with no code, so I decided to make one for fun. As I started to dive into the app and what I wanted to do for a site, I realized I needed graphics, so researched a bit and found out a cool app called Photoshop – I did a trial for it and since then I got hooked.
ROVE:Â As you developed you skills as a designer and started your career, do you remember having a “big break” that changed everything for you?
ND: A few a long the way that I can remember. My first internship in Portugal, the studio I was at (Pacifica) they are mainly a graphic design studio, but I was starting to get interested in motion, so they let me practice and try things out for their client projects. Then after finishing a motion graphics course at Hyper Island in Sweden, I got an internship in London at a Studio called Mainframe, where I learned a lot, and as my 3 months there were about to finished they offered me a job, so I ended up staying there about 3 years. So that was definitely my big first break in the industry.
ROVE: That must’ve been exciting – and a big life change being away from home for the first time. As you got more opportunities to work on projects, how did you find your style / voice as a designer?
ND: It took me a bit to figure out I had a style to be honest, I always loved doing stuff more on the abstract side (I guess because I’m not that great at drawing ðŸ˜) but always assumed it was just “random” abstract stuff. It took me a couple of friends and people online telling me that they liked my style, for me to start paying attention and starting to understand that I indeed had something going on. I think most of it came through personal projects, I use them to get better, learn new stuff, but ultimately do the things I love, so I guess the more time I dedicated to that and to my craft, the more it became unique to me
ROVE: I think finding your voice is one of the hardest things you can do as an artist.
ND: I guess because I wasn’t per se looking for it, it seemed “easy.” Initially I was a motion designer/generalist, so was doing a bit of everything at work ðŸ˜„
ROVE: You mentioned you were drawn to an abstract style…your work definitely has a remarkable blend of abstract elements and photorealism. When you approach a project, what is your first step in conceptualizing what you want to design?
ND: Trying to find a metaphors that represent the concept/product. I tend to think on how can I represent the message visually, what can I use that will represent it and help guide the story. For example, how can we show collaboration without showing people? And then just planting little seeds, and seeing what I get from it, I guess almost like a mind map. Trying to connect the dots, not just in terms of story but visually. My brain somehow is wired to think more visually, so as I’m reading a brief, I start to think visually, either on cool and interesting ways to represent something, or even some interesting video or image that I’ve seen before that somehow seems to connect good to what the project is about.
ROVE:Â Where do you draw inspiration from?
ND: Can I use the tile of the film “everything everywhere all at once” haha. Seems to sum up things pretty nicely ðŸ˜‹ What I mean is that I don’t have a specific designer, or thing. I guess (and using another metaphor), nowadays I’m like Spotify, while before I would be very much into X specific bands and buy their albums, I now have playlist with maybe just 1 song from each artist, and then a few will stand out so those I will follow. There’s so much great stuff around, not just in graphic and motion design, but in any type of art form, so restricting myself to just a selected few, never seemed to be for me. So instead I just like to be on Behance and Instagram and get inspired there.
ROVE: I feel you – we’re always on the hunt for new, cool work to draw inspiration from. So, let’s shift gears a bit and talk about your “office”, do you work from home? What does your workspace look like? Do you have any photos on your desk? Do you listen to music while you work? Rapid fire questions!
ND: I work from home, I share the home office with my husband. At the moment my desk is very untidy. My son loves to come here and pick up my pens and pencils and also to take out everything from my small drawer on the desk. No photos on the desk, and actually not much around the house. Mainly just artwork from other artists. Yes! Music most of the time, tried to do podcasts, but get too distracted so either I’m focusing on the podcast and not doing work, or doing the work and not listening to anything on the podcast haha.
ROVE: How do you manage your work / life balance? It’s worth mentioning that we’re having this meeting at 10:15 PM your time. Thanks again for chatting with us so late, by the way.
ND: Before having a son, I was terrible at balancing it. I’ve always been more of a night owl, so being at this time on the computer was almost second nature. Nowadays, I just get so exhausted sometimes ahah, my son is 2,5y and he has so much energy, that by the time we managed to get him to sleep, I just want to chill, watch something on TV, or read a book and then sleep. Because now, my son is my alarm clock, and that one I can not snooze.
ROVE: (Note to self – have a kid to get more focused.) Here’s a different kind of question. If you could give advice to a younger version of yourself (say when you were 16 and just learning about design), what would you say?
ND: For the younger version of me, I would say, keep doing what you are doing, doesn’t matter how many twist and turns you will do, it will eventually lead you the right path, and to get there, you needed to learn though all those wrong turns.
ROVE: That’s great advice. Whatâ€™s next for you — do you have any cool projects in the works?
ND: Hmm no idea, but I like the mystery. Until then will keep on doing some personal side projects and keep working with the people and projects I love ðŸ˜€
Psttt, did ya know that Nidia designed and art directed our Sonos spot? Shameless plug alert ðŸš¨
Go check out more of Nidia’s amazing work @imnidiadias