Interview with Michele Mardorf from United States

Interview with Michelle Hausen from Germany
January 22, 2024
Interview with Ruoyong Hong from China
January 22, 2024

Michele Mardorf

Michele Mardorf is an art director from Spain, with roots in Peru and St. Maarten. She has traveled to over 40 countries and was influenced by a variety of cultures. She uses art to address personal challenges and wants to use her creative skills to address broader issues. She is passionate about using art to solve brand challenges and societal issues.

Interview with the 2023 Vega Digital Awards Winner - Michele Mardorf

1Please give us a brief bio of yourself and your design background.

Hi, my name is Michele Mardorf. I am an art director based in the United States with roots in Spain. My upbringing, shaped by a Peruvian artist and a German musician, spanned three countries – Spain, Peru, and St. Maarten.

Traveling to 40 countries with my parents allowed me to be exposed to many different cultures that played a major role in shaping my identity as the quadrilingual multicultural Art Director today.

2What made you become/why did you choose to become a digital designer/artist?

Art has been a constant in my life since I was a child, shaping my journey in a way that feels like coming full circle. Early on, creating art allowed me to address personal challenges through visual storytelling. Over time, this evolved into the realization that I wanted to extend the impact of my visual storytelling abilities to address broader challenges.

This led me to pursue a career as a creative professional, where I could leverage my artistic talent to address and solve brand challenges, business issues, and societal issues.

3Tell us more about your business/company, job profile, and what you do.

Since relocating to the United States, my professional journey has been a dynamic blend of academic pursuits, internships, and work experience. Equipped with a Bachelor's degree in Advertising and a Master's degree in Global Strategic Communications with a focus on Art Direction, I am currently pursuing my third degree in Digital Design to further master my craft.

Throughout this time, I have developed expertise in working as an Art Director and Designer with companies within the entertainment industry ecosystem, spanning music, sports, and technology. My commitment to continuous learning and diverse experiences has allowed me to bring a well-rounded skill set to my current role in the music media and content company today.

4What’s your favorite kind of digital design and why?

I'm drawn to digital design that seamlessly weaves cultural references, and music, and incorporates interactive or technological elements. I feel like these elements often resonate with people, which is one of the ultimate goals for me when I work on projects.

5To you, what makes a “good” design?

I have a deep affinity for conceptual design. It's the kind of design that not only engages your mind but does so with simplicity. In my line of work, I find immense satisfaction in the moment of clarity, that Eureka moment when it feels like you've cracked the code of a project. The rush and excitement are unparalleled, especially when you can sense that others have had similar breakthroughs in the design you're looking at.

6Describe your design style and its main characteristics.

My design style can be characterized as bold, elegant, and infused with innovation. I aim to create work that closely aligns with my vision of good design, always mindful of the overall goals of the brand or campaign, which serve as my guiding North Star.

7Tell us about your design process.

My design process typically starts with thorough research, delving into aspects such as the target audience, the product, and the industry landscape. From there, I seek visual inspiration from platforms like Pinterest or Behance, tailoring my approach to the specific requirements of the project. Once inspired, I dive into the execution phase, iterating through multiple rounds of revisions until the result aligns with both my high standards and the client's expectations. In the final stages, I make a final push to exceed these expectations, often incorporating innovative, interactive elements or strategic gifts to enhance the overall result.

8Where do you draw inspiration from?

I believe inspiration can come from anywhere. Yes, there are your typical sites like Behance, Pinterest, Creative Market, Dribble, Tumblr, etc. But sometimes a walk on the beach with your dog, listening to the perfect song, or reading the right book, can also spark great inspiration.

9What current trends in digital design (or really anything digital related) are you most excited about?

I find great joy in the resurgence of gradients in design trends. The ability to experiment with perfect color mixes adds a layer of creativity that resonates with me. In addition, the current creator culture provides a liberating environment, allowing us to play with anything within our reach to craft innovative designs and various forms of content. This is an exciting time of limitless possibilities.

10Congratulations! As the winner of the 2023 Vega Awards, what does it mean to you and your company and team to receive this award distinction?

The recognition received after investing time and effort in brainstorming, conceptualizing, and executing this project was an incredibly gratifying experience. This particular project stands out as one of my favorites, and I always find joy in working on anything related to music.

11Can you explain a bit about the winning work you entered into the 2023 Vega Awards, and why you chose to enter this project?

The inspiration behind this project came from conversations with friends deeply involved in music production, both professionally and as a hobby. Through these discussions and my personal curiosity to explore new areas, I realized that getting into music production can feel overwhelming given the steep learning curve. For far too long, aspiring producers have embarked on this journey with limited official routes, often relying on observation to learn from established producers in the field. So I thought, what if we partnered with a music platform like UnitedMasters, which allows independent artists to take control of their careers, introduce a gaming aspect to the learning process, and tap into the brain's natural desire for mastery and progression?

12What was the biggest challenge with this project?

The main challenge was figuring out how to effectively use AI tools to visually recreate famous musicians like Swizz Beatz and Pharrell. Since I was still getting the hang of AI, setting up the correct prompts was a bit tricky. However, my commitment to the project's vision and determination to learn and make things happen played a crucial role. Even though I was new to AI, I tackled the challenge head-on, and my dedication to learning helped me navigate the complexities and move the project forward.

13How has winning an Award developed your practice/career?

Securing a win has been transformative in liberating me from the occasional impostor syndrome and cementing my standing in the industry as a creative professional who loves working in music. It stands as a personal testament, reinforcing the belief that those sleepless nights are indeed an investment that yields substantial returns, especially when dedicated to the pursuit of one's true passion.

14What are your top three (3) favorite things about the digital industry?

I really appreciate the constant innovation and the ever-evolving landscape that keeps me on my toes. The collaborative nature of the community, where ideas flourish and inspire, is another highlight. Finally, the vast potential for creative expression and the ability to reach global audiences seamlessly and effectively are among my top favorites.

15What makes your country specifically, unique in the digital industry?

After eight years in the U.S., I would say the U.S. digital industry uniquely thrives on its diverse talent, culture of innovation, and robust ecosystem that encourages and supports digital entrepreneurship.

16Where do you see the evolution of digital industry going over the next 5-10 years?

I believe that the U.S. digital industry will have a significant impact on artificial intelligence, fostering innovation and a more inclusive multicultural approach to communications.

17If you were a student entering this industry or an aspiring Vega Award submitter, what advice would you give them?

Know what you want. Believe in it, and work hard at it to master your craft. After all the hard work you put into it, you'll be happy to have followed your own unique path in something you're passionate about no matter what anyone says on your journey.

18What resources would you recommend to someone who wants to improve their skills in the digital industry?
AI is one of the resources that will take you to many other places. You just need to know what to ask, and for that, you need to know what you want. The entire Creative Suite is amazing for creative professionals. And lastly, just always read what's new in your industry and the ecosystem that surrounds it.
19Tell us something you have never told anyone else.
I truly believe that the arts can heal people, so I often daydream about using my creative powers as therapy to help others by creating conceptual art in a therapeutic setting.
20Who has inspired you in your life and why?

Conceptual music artists like Kendrick Lamar inspire me to intentionally inject music into my work. Creative influencers, including Rick Rubin, guide me in tapping into my creative potential. Visionaries like Es Devlin, known for bringing their vision to life on the world stage, especially in the field of music, also play a significant role in shaping my creative perspective.

21What is your key to success? Any parting words of wisdom?
Being dedicated, committed to my craft, knowing what I want in my creative path, and loving what I do. I can't stress enough how important it is to do some self-discovery to really figure out what you want to do in this industry, who you want to be, and what you want your legacy to be.

Winning Entry

The Buddy System | 2023

The Buddy System is the bridge connecting humans and nature as one. By scanning endangered species’ silhouettes, ...
(read more at Vega Digital Awards)

Michele Mardorf

Michele Mardorf is an art director from Spain, with roots in Peru and St. Maarten. She has traveled to over 40 countries and was influenced by a variety of cultures. She uses art to address personal challenges and wants to use her creative skills to address broader issues. She is passionate about using art to solve brand challenges and societal issues.

Read more about Michelle Hausen's interview for the 2023 Vega Digital Awards!