Eduardo Sarmiento has been telling stories through pictures since he was a child in Cuba. These days, the stories become advertising campaigns, television commercials, posters, or children’s books. As Brunet-García’s new creative director, Sarmiento leads the agency’s creative team on a wide variety of projects.
We asked him a few questions about his work and where he finds his inspiration.
Tell us a little about your background.
I was born in Cienfuegos, Cuba and studied graphic design and illustration at the Superior Institute of Design (ISDI) in Havana. After graduation, I taught poster design and illustration at ISDI. I also worked for several cultural institutions designing book collections, magazines, posters, animated TV spots, and websites, and I have illustrated more than 10 children’s books.
The women in my family are pretty special. My grandmother Rebeca taught me how to draw, and my great grandmother Eva was a passionate storyteller who introduced me to my first metaphor.
From an early age, I loved telling stories through drawings and images.
In 2006, I came to the U.S. and in the first years worked as a designer and art director for a variety of clients, including hotels, restaurants, architectural firms, cigar companies, and schools. At the same time, I was working on illustrations for The New York Times, Texas Monthly, ESPN, and Funky Urban Klothes, among others.
The last six years, I worked as the creative director for a multinational advertising agency with offices in Miami, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Guatemala, and Mexico. I led a team of art directors and copywriters with whom I developed integrated marketing solutions and strategies for global brands like MoneyGram, MasterCard, Microsoft, Abbott, Starlims, Samsung, Haagen-Dazs, AOC, and GE. Simultaneously, I continued drawing and painting, producing work for magazines, labels, packaging, galleries, and museum exhibitions.
Today, I live in Jacksonville with my wife, Ketty, our two sons, Emmanuel and Luciano, and our black cat, Guru.
What project best represents the work you have done?
It’s pretty difficult to select just one project when you have worked for several years with a variety of mediums and clients.
Here are three projects I felt represent my work well:
Ramadan TV campaign: After working with MoneyGram for several years and developing multiple campaigns for the Latin American market, we were given the assignment to produce a campaign celebrating Ramadan in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia. I loved the challenge and assembled a team that included a production company from Guatemala and an American film director. At the time, it was too risky to travel to the Middle East, so we decided to produce the three versions of the TVC in Guatemala with local talent. It took several weeks of research to choose the right talent, wardrobe, food preparations, locations, and decoration. After all the hard work, challenges, and meticulous details this production demanded, we delivered a successful campaign that exceeded our client’s expectations. I’m proud of the process, the learning, the great collaboration, and the results achieved.
Hyundai mobile branding: Hyundai wanted to launch a new product category: mobile phones. Our team was tasked with the development of the new brand strategy, which included a logo design, packaging for each line of products, and a website. To identify and differentiate this new category, we created a new icon, but decided to keep Hyundai’s wordmark in order to leverage existing brand awareness. This was a unique opportunity to build and develop a new global brand identity for an independent business unit that shared Hyundai’s brand essence and philosophy.
Malecon poster: This is a poster I designed in 2002 while still living in Havana and later had printed in St. Louis in 2012. By the use of small graphic alterations to the Cuban flag and omitting any text, I created a strongly charged image that purely communicates the matter of current Cuban migration. It is a cherished piece that has resonated cross-culturally as a metaphor of exile.
Where do you find inspiration?
Everywhere: magazines, books, museums, documentaries, movies, cartoons, music, poetry, nature.
I like to observe life.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
I love catching ideas and making them happen, inspiring others, creating beauty, and collaborating with talented people on meaningful projects.
Who is your biggest role model?
There are a lot of people who move me and make me a better person/creative entity. I admire the integrity of my grandfather Eulogio, the courage of my mother, the creativity of Francis Picabia, the clarity of Milton Glaser, the simplicity of Rumi, the ferocity of George Lois, the rawness of Charles Bukowski, the narrative of Quentin Tarantino … the list goes on and on.
What are you looking forward to in your role as creative director?
I look forward to creating exceptional work (strategically derived, sharp creative) that delivers a positive impact to consumers and the industry while ensuring client expectations are surpassed. I look forward to developing strong agency relationships and leading the team through collaboration and empowerment. Our positioning as a recognized strategic and creative entity is only as good as the delivery of the aforementioned points.
What is success to you?
Success is propelling others to greatness and taking care of my family.
Of the main client areas Brunet-García serves (health, safety, education, the arts, and environmental sustainability), what resonates most with you and why?
Education and the arts are especially important to me because both are paramount in flourishing people and societies.
Environmental sustainability is a must; I began thinking more conscientiously when I became a father.
At the end of the day, what matters most to you?
Creating beauty, honest relationships, enjoying life with my family, and serving others matter most.
Describe yourself in one word.