Interview with Pasquale D’Silva


published on September 12, 2008

Pasquale D’Silva is a freelance animator, illustrator, and designer based in Australia.  As many of you web heads may know, some regions of the world with people of high web interest at the moment seem to be the U.S., Eastern Europe, and Australia; welp, he’s from the last.

I cannot remember exactly how I got to his site the first time I visited, but I do recall reading a link to an illustration site.  The first time I visited I was amazed by the design and style of his website ( ).  The color scheme, layout, and artwork create a mood and I think that mood summarizes Pasquale D’Silva better than my words ever can.  After you have perused his site, check out his sketchbook on Flickr or his illustration work.  He is one of those people that is just so damn naturally talented that it makes you mad.

DarkmotionOh yeah, did I mention he’s still in his twenties and, oh yeah, he’ s still a college student?

I have shown his sketchbook to my students and I have to tell them daily to close it and get to work, no joke.  He is a super talented young man and thought would be a great designer to interview for my students.

And by the way, he’s just a nice guy too.

Give us your back story, how did you fall into this field?

I’ve always been interested in visual arts. In junior school, I remember learning the ins and out of html (possibly at the age of 8-9) and loved that I could create my own content to share with other people connected to this big thing called the Internet. Though I do deal with design, my first creative love is Animation & Illustration. I found that as a young artist and student, paying a firm to design a site, or using freely available templates was certainly not enough to push one’s self ahead of the pack. I started tinkering with layout and design, using the graphical illustration roots which I have, applying it to design for web. The result? Something that is unique, fresh and works to satisfy both clients and users.  Composition, colour, weighting and appeal all interweave themselves through art genres of all visual media, so the transition from traditional art to functional web design is made easier. It’s certainly helped to launch my work, so much so that it has allowed me to work with great animation studios and media firms directing art styles.

What's your educational background?

I went through high school and graduated in Queensland, Australia in 2006. I studied Information Processing Technologies, Visual Art and Multimedia. I am now in my second year of my BA Animation and screen media, and plan to travel with work for the new year.

Did you find your education beneficial to your field/current job? How so?

My early exposure to the web, and art certainly benifited my position. I received a rare internship with an animation studio who saw my work on my website in highschool. By applying ideas using the ‘nuts and bolts’ learned in an educational environment, the tools can be utilised to develop new working approaches. Essentially, learning the minimum is not enough to go far creatively. Initiative to experiment, and seek feedback from teachers and peers is essential for creative progression. Webdesign is art, and art is subjective, so the rich environment in an educational system to receive feedback is priceless.

Tell us about your work, what do you find yourself working on most of your days?

Honestly, it’s very wild being a freelancer. A great type of wild. One day I will be illustrating tribal men, bears and octopuses for web companies, and the next I could be wireframing and designing layouts for sales sites. I think it’s important to preserve a state of openess towards other mediums. I find myself combining Design, Animation & Illustration every day. The diverse spread of work keeps me coming back for more.

So I don't know if you've heard but the students at Damascus High School are studying Web Standards, Accessibility, JavaScript, AJAX, PHP, Databases, and more. What's your take on this?

I think that Standards, Accessibility and Functionality is where we should all be heading. The internet is rapidly expanding, and with so many new technologies to access and create information; we get hiccups with compatibility. As developers, we should be working around an architecture and infrastrucutre removes redundancies. We are spending more time with technology, and should embrace it, while respecting conventions. It’s only going to get bigger and better; so we need to think forward. While we do have all of the fancy new languages and frameworks popping up, we as designers have to make sure to hide all the mechanics of it, and present users with an aesthetically pleasing and ergonomically functional interface.

With Web Design/Development being in it's infancy in the occupational field there is a struggling number of quality undergraduate programs and no Masters' or Doctoral programs. What are your suggestions for a high school graduate who has decided to pursue higher education in this field?

I suggest making your mark now. Don’t wait till post secondary school to start to discover. The earlier you can dive into this field and experiment, the better. Community/voluntary work is great for this. If you have an aquaintance that requires some work, take it as a chance to apply yourself. Freelance doesn’t start off as a big league job. Like anything with ‘new media’, it requires investment of time, and commitment. Try and develop a collection of work which you could use to apply for in-house internships. Take any opportunity you can grab. Collaborate with peers and learn from each other.

If you could only design monochromatically from now on what color would you use and why?

teal/blue. Though it is a cliche, it works beautifully. It has a low natural brightness, so the contrast levels between bands of saturation and value feel rich to me. I don’t know how long I could live with working monochromatically though. I love colour.

If you could only program in one language what would it be and why?

PHP. It’s functional, open source, scalable and the most common.

If you could only read one blog for the rest of your days what would it be and why?

I’d tell you that it’s my amazing girlfriend’s blog, but since it’s a secret, I’ll cave and tell you #2 on the list : It’s a brilliant and regularly updated source of inspiration for cartoonists and illustrators.

In conclusion, if there was only one nugget you can pass on to high school students (14 through 18 year old) web design related or not, what would it be?

Take every line dangling in front of you, because on the other end could be something amazing. And what if there isn’t anything great there? Throw it back and catch another one, there’s always a fish (or giant sea monster) that’s right for you!

You’re awesome Pasquale.  Thanks for taking the time to fill us all in, but most importantly my students thank you.

So if you haven’t checked out his work yet, what are you still doing here?  Get over to dark motion!

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Jeff Brown
Montgomery County Public Schools
25921 Ridge Road
Damascus , MD , 20872 USA
(301) 253-7062