Sergio Serrano moved to Edmonton 12 years ago to study English. In those 12 years since his move from Mexico Sergio has become fluent in English, completed a Bachelor of Design degree at the University of Alberta, and built a successful career as a designer. I met Sergio through one of my best friends and knew I would like Sergio immediately. His subtle wit is probably what I love most about Sergio. I’ve also been in awe of his talent as a designer. When I found out that he works on the graphic novel The Wicked and The Divine, I had a difficult time not completely fangirling out. I sat down with Sergio last month at the Three Boars to get to know more about his background and his work as a graphic designer.
POE: Were you always interested in design?
Sergio: “Pretty much. I feel that since I was little, I really liked to draw a lot and do things like that and when I got a computer and Photoshop I would design things but I didn’t know that what it was called and that it was a job that people had. I would make covers for mixed CDs or if I had a book that I didn’t like the cover it came with I would try and make something else. I tried to make a website at one point using HTML.”
POE: Did you enjoy studying at the University of Alberta?
Sergio: “Yes I did. I think that some places get caught up in the overall mentality of hating on Edmonton and that certainly happens a lot at the U of A too. I think that there’s a lot of people who complain about the (design) program. But then I’ve also met people who have gone to Emily Carr or OCAD and they complain about the same things. I feel like there are certainly some things that are better in different places but a lot of it is what you individually make out of the resources that you have so I am pretty happy with having gone (to the U of A) and being here (in Edmonton) so I really enjoyed it.
POE: Do you think that you will stay in Edmonton?
Sergio: “For now I think so. I have always wanted to go to Grad school. So I think that eventually I’ll go to Grad school and go somewhere (outside of Edmonton). I’ve looked at places in Canada like Toronto and Montreal. And I’ve looked at some places in Europe but nothing too serious. I feel that I’m lucky enough to be doing a lot of design work that I’m really excited about and I’m doing art projects that I’m really excited about so that’s keeping me busy. So I think that once I kind of feel that I can’t grow more without Grad school then I’ll look at something.
POE: What inspires you about Edmonton?
Sergio: “As far as being here (in Edmonton) certainly the community is very strong and close-knit. There are groups and cliques within it but nothing that has felt too negative. I think that usually when I go out to a music show or and art show or anything like that, I’m pretty sure that I’ll know who I’m going to run into. I think that’s a really good thing.
I think that there are also a lot of opportunities for people and for up and coming people and I feel very lucky that I have gotten a lot of opportunities as well. Other than that, physically I like how flat it is. I know a lot of people maybe don’t, but I really do. Just because I like the sky and how open it is and watching the clouds is something I really like. The River Valley is really beautiful and I like being so close to it. Being close to something that’s so different from a city.
I think, especially lately, I don’t know how it’s going to play out in the next five years but it certainly feels like there’s a lot of potential. I think that considering the economic situation, not just in the whole world and in Canada but in Alberta specifically I’m really surprised at how many things are going on. It’s really exciting. Overall I think that there are a lot of good things happening but there are some growing pains too.
POE: You’ve had a lot of community involvement, especially with local galleries.
Sergio: “I’ve really tried to. Especially with SNAP and I’ve enjoyed working with them and Latitude 53 and Harcourt House. I try to be involved.”
POE: I’ve noticed that with your work, your client base is both local and international.
Sergio: “The majority of my work is for the U of A and the Fine Arts department such as the printmakers. I’ve done work with Sean Caulfield and for his shows and other things that he organizes. I also have done a little bit of work for the drama department. And then the bulk of it is at museums and all of the exhibitions they’ve had downtown. For the last three years that the (U of A) has had the space my boss and I have been working with them pretty directly and exclusively. I really enjoy working for my boss. I’ve never worked for an agency so I don’t know what it would be like but I’m not very interested in more commercial advertising work. I’m pretty happy that most of my work is to do with either culture or education or the arts. I’m pretty satisfied with that. Other than that, I do typesetting for The Wicked and The Divine and it’s great because they’re very nice people. It’s (work) that I got through a friend of a friend and it also feels like a close-knit group. It’s very exciting to, even in a very minimal way, be part of something that is so different as far as comic books go that are mainstream. They do a very good job of being very diverse. I feel lucky just being a tiny part of that.
I want to give a huge thank you to Sergio for being Portraits of Edmonton’s inaugural interviewee. I had such a wonderful time getting to know him better. You can see Sergio’s portfolio online at https://sites.ualberta.ca/~sserrano/.
Thank you for reading!