Ernesto Ornelas

Mercari US
Noon Home
Cibo Studios
UC Berkeley
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Creativity is intelligence having fun. Borrowing from Albert Einstein, this statement gets at the core of how I work. It all begins with the love of one's craft and the joy that necessarily results, often for both creator and user. I enjoy being hands-on with my work as well as leading and teaming up with fellow creatives. I also value collaborating with folks from marketing, product, engineering, and other cross-functional teams. Ultimately, my goal is to help produce a thoughtful, inspiring, user-centric brand experience. I'm a big fan of soulful, thoughtful simplicity. Less is more, but only when it’s intentional. I've been fortunate in my career to have worked with many reputable brands, completing a variety of fun projects in various fields: • Web and app design • Branding and identity • Photography and illustration • TV, print, and radio advertising • Print design
Ernesto Ornelas
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As a Creative, how do you bring forth your style in the different projects you work on?

My style of working is founded on balancing pixel and word perfection with keeping a light heart and enjoying the inherently collaborative process that creative work requires and inspires. By being open and communicative, I aim to infuse all projects that I work on, in whatever capacity, with this sense of having fun while working hard. I have consistently found that the end result is usually well received by users when joy and fun are incorporated into the work.


What’s your experience been like working with such varied brands?

I have been fortunate to have worked with so many great brands (ie. Nest, Google, Disney, and AT&T) throughout my career. While each brand and company presented unique challenges and opportunities, the common thread for me has been partnering with kind, thoughtful, talented people to produce quality creative work. Solid creative concepts and execution are sure to benefit any brand, big or small, obscure or well known.


Kindly take us through a particular project of yours that you cherish.

I am particularly fond of my web work on the Nest product detail pages. This is primarily due to the fact that as a creative, I felt completely aligned with Nest’s mindfully-minimalist brand. By default, I value a clean aesthetic which serves to champion the product, and by extension, the user. 

As the design lead with these high stakes, high visibility product detail pages I made sure that everything from copy, layout, typography, color palette, photos, videos, animations, and illustrations worked in perfect unison to successfully educate and inspire users.


When creating a brand identity, how important is target audience research?

When creating a brand identity, thorough target audience research is critically important. The insights that are typically gained from this research are invaluable as they help inform the strategy for developing key brand identity elements. These include the prospective brand’s mission/values, voice, positioning, as well as its visual identity components such as logo, typography, and color palette. Conversely, trying to create a brand identity without user research is like attempting to create a complicated, nuanced dish without a recipe. It's not going to taste good.


How many years of experience do you have? With that many years of experience in the industry, what words of wisdom would you like to give to young Creatives?

I’ve been in the design and creative field since 1996. For context, Seinfeld was the hit show on TV then. That’s going back a minute or two.

 To the young Creatives of today:

1. Begin with pencil and paper to promote smart and original thinking

2. Try working in different roles, in different mediums, at different shops/companies; the scenic path is often provides a well-rounded experience

3. Be kind to all, including yourself

4. Prioritize people over things

5. Be slightly weary of bulleted lists


Who or what has been your inspiration in your Art Director journey?

I have been and continue to be inspired by talented creatives in all fields. These include folks from the worlds of art, design, architecture, music, literature, film, and comedy. A few standouts include Ray and Charles Eames, Edward Hopper, David Siqueiros, Cesária Évora, Robert Frost, Eckhart Tolle, M Ward, Arj Barker, and Daniel Day-Lewis.


What’s the most valuable skill you’ve learned so far professionally?

Adaptability. Even 10 years BC (before Covid), I’ve found that given the constant of change, it’s best to stay agile and even anticipate when a curve ball might present itself. Ultimately, improvisation and flexibility might be the best application of our creativity.


How do you stay up-to-date with the latest trends & technologies in your field and how do you incorporate them into your work?

I stay up-to-date with the latest trends & technologies (ie. AI) by reading online articles and comparing notes with fellow creatives in the industry. I incorporate these newer tools selectively into my work, being mindful of trends that may be more cool than helpful.

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