Graphic designer and illustrator Gustavo Zambelli is all about trying new things and embracing the unexpected. In fact, you’ll never guess how he found out design was his calling. Today, Gustavo shares his unlikely journey into a thriving design career, and reveals his favorite piece of advice for other creatives.
My name is Gustavo Zambelli, and I’m a graphic designer and illustrator. I currently work remotely and full-time for Sticker Mule from my apartment in Neuquén, Patagonia Argentina.
How did you get started in design?
I started my career as a designer back in high school. It’s actually a funny story: One day in 2007, I went to eat pizza with my friends at a local pizza place in my hometown. While we eating, we started messing around with a digital camera. The owner of the restaurant saw us with the camera, came to our table, and assumed that since we had a digital camera, we could design things too. So, he asked us to design the restaurant’s menu, magnets, and other stuff.
We accepted the proposal, but none of us actually had any design experience. Throughout the next few days, I took on the project and I fell in love with design. Obviously, I designed the whole thing in Microsoft Publisher like a real champ, lol.
The owner was pretty happy with how the designs turned out, but said he wanted to get print-outs. So, I took my Publisher file to a local printing shop and they told me that the file wasn’t going to work — it needed to be a Corel Draw file… At that moment I thought, “Corel? What is that?”
One of my friends who was at the table with me when we were asked about this project told me about his brother, George Barros, who was a Graphic Designer at the time. The only downside was that he lived in California, but thanks to Messenger and Skype we were able to get in touch with him and ask about how I could translate my Publisher design into Corel. He had no problem helping me and when checking out the design I made he said, “Have you ever thought about studying graphic design? Because you have a good eye for this.”
And that was it! Ever since that day, I just fell in love with design and I haven’t stopped researching, testing, and creating things. I’m so grateful I went out for pizza that night and that my friend talked me into design. People are completely right — pizza is good for your soul.
What project(s) are you currently working on?
Besides my projects with Sticker Mule, I’m working with my friend George (yes, the same guy) expanding my Macindows project. It began last year as a series of jokes about tech-related problems, design, and life in general. To be honest, I’m shocked at the good reception it has had, so I really want to turn that into a brand.
I’m also a volunteer designer at a BMX Dirt Jump club called Dirt World Flypark which is located in my city. It’s a fun and interesting project for me because I ride in the club. I have always loved BMX so it’s great that I can help them and design things related to the BMX world.
Tell us about your favorite piece of creative advice and why it resonates with you.
I think the best advice I have is to keep yourself updated. When you don’t advance your knowledge or you get stuck at the same job where projects are no longer challenging, it’s very easy to get stuck and hit creative block.
This happens to me a lot, but I’ve realized that the cure is to always keep creating new things. In my case as an illustrator, I keep trying new styles, perspectives, colors, looking at other illustrators’ work, etc. For that reason, I’m always doing things just for fun, which is the most nutritious food for creativity.
What else are you passionate about outside design? How does it influence your work?
I really love cooking — almost as much as eating. That explains why you see so many illustrations about food on my Dribbble profile. I have a lot of personal recipes, and one project that I’ve been sitting on for a long time (but haven’t taken the plunge on just yet) is an illustrated book of these recipes.
I love photography as well, although it’s more a hobby than anything else. And as I mentioned before, I love to ride BMX. But I think my biggest passion/hobby is illustration. I’ve always liked drawing ever since I was a child. Even today, when I have a little bit of free time, you’ll probably find me illustrating.
Do you have any events, speaking gigs, merch, workshops, classes, or products you’d like to shout-out?
Right now, we’re working on new merch which will be available on burgersoft.co soon. Stay tuned!
Shout-out another Dribbble designer you admire.
There are so many good designers and illustrators that I really admire on Dribbble. But if I had to pick one, it would have to be my friend Alejandro Ramirez. This guy is a really good person, friend, graphic designer and illustrator. He has an incredible talent for drawing and creating anything, and is very knowledgeable. He is one of the first people I ask when I am looking for feedback or when I get stuck in the creative process. He always knows how to improve things and help.