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Lisa Odette Butean

Graphic Designer


Business cards crafted by a manual engraving technique

Primary design concentration:

At the moment: Graphic Design, Motion Graphics, and Illustration

Most preferred tools for designing:

Sketchbook, InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, After Effects


Informative brochure series “GMO Point by Point”

How and why did you choose to become a designer?

Drawing was the first step. Since I could remember, I liked to draw—it was and is still my favourite hobby. All my school books were full of doodles, until college. I also liked to decorate my stuff to make it more personal (and what I thought was cool). I paid more attention, had more patience and passion doing these things than anything else. When I had to choose what to study at college, I searched for something related to art, but I never felt like an artist. So I heard about graphic design, had no idea what it was, but sounded great. With a little bit of research into it, I had no doubt that I wanted to be a designer.


Spread from the book “Conflicts,” an undergraduate project

What are some of the challenges you encounter as a designer and how do you deal with them?

The most challenging part I think is giving the right “language” or “essence” to a design. The way to solve that is by having good research and a reason to design in one way and not another. Also, the insecurity of being at the start of my working life as a designer, when there are so many things you didn’t learned, but that can only be solved with time.

What is your definition of an “elegant solution,” that is, good design?

For me, an elegant or good design could be when the result seems to be the obvious solution. Probably this “obvious” solution has a lot of thinking behind it, and it could have been done in other ways. With this, I don’t mean that the obvious solution has to be minimal, it can be colourful, very detailed, funny…

From skills to values, what makes a designer successful?

As in everything else: doing good work, putting effort, and good communication with your clients. The concept of success can be different for other people, for me, it is the satisfaction after finishing a work, if you are happy with it, if you think your effort is worth it, that is success. Feeling successful, even with the smallest project, is the key to go forward.

How do you stay motivated and grow personally and professionally as a designer?

Being aware of what is going on in the design world, knowing the trends (even if they are not your taste), knowing what others do, admire other designers. Don’t live in a bubble. Talking about design with people, meeting designers, listening to design talks, having designer friends. Sharing your opinions with others and learning from them.

With every work, you learn something new, good or bad, but everything contributes to better works, and this personal improvement is also motivating.

For those aspiring to become a designer, whatever the discipline, what is your advice?

Draw—draw everyday if you can. Practice a lot, and have a sketchbook always with you. You don’t have to be an artist, but it is very important to be able to express your ideas visually, and sketching is the part when a design takes shape in any discipline.


“How to Stock your fridge” still from a motion graphics project about where to keep the food in the refrigerator

What is your quest in design, from a professional practice, education or evolution standpoint?

My quest is to never stop learning and applying what I learn, keep doing what I love to do, discover new things to do, new things to love, and grow professionally and personally with my work.

Lisa Odette Butean recommends book “Grid Systems in Graphic Design” (1981) by Josef Müller-Brockmann.

All images courtesy of Lisa Odette Butean.

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