About Gonzalo Alatorre

Gonzalo Alatorre is an award-winning designer, TEDx Speaker, Vancouver 2010 Olympic games creator, and creative director at Etude.Digital. Gonzalo studied Graphic Design at the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City and Mathematics and Evolutionary Biology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. As a Creative Director, Gonzalo has a relentless commitment to our client's vision and business objectives while empowering the Etude team to overcome their self-imposed limitations, build the confidence needed to tackle even more complex projects, build productive relationships with clients, and exceed all expectations.

Interview with Gonzalo Alatorre

Gonzalo Alatorre ("GA") interviewed on Monday, 16 May.

Could you please tell us about your experience as a designer, artist, architect or creator?

GA : I have been working as a designer since 1992 while I was studying Graphic Design at a university in Mexico City, Mexico. Since then, I have been actively working as a designer, except for the period between 1997-2003, when I studied mathematics and evolutionary biology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

How did you become a designer?

GA : I studied Graphic Design at the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City, but actually, I started working in graphic design during high school for a local design firm doing newspaper ads. I did not grow up wanting to become a designer, but it is something I discovered late in high school. However, I come from a family of architects and art collectors. So art and design were always a topic of conversation in our house.

What are your priorities, technique and style when designing?

GA : My priority is to make sure our clients feel well represented and that all of our work stands out in a market saturated with sameness and mediocrity.

Which emotions do you feel when designing?

GA : Everything! I've always described my design process following the same sequence of events as any Tom Cruise movie: Arrogance: I come in thinking I am a superstar. Crisis. I crash and burn; I can't live up to my self-imposed expectations and standards. Humility and lack of confidence: Maybe I am not as good as I think, and I should quit. I find my muse and obsess: I find that one perfect idea. And I obsess about it until I get to the solution. The exhilaration when I see the solution. I ride a motorcycle to the sunset with my muse.

What particular aspects of your background shaped you as a designer?

GA : I believe everything in your life shapes you as a designer. For example, my studies in Mathematics and Evolutionary Biology would appear to have, at first glance, no relevance to design. Yet, I would argue quite the opposite. They taught me to observe the system, not the organisms we studied. This plays a fundamental role in how I approach our projects. We don't look at just our clients. We look at our clients' competitive landscapes, understand their roles within it, and study the system to know how to make them stand out!

What is your growth path? What are your future plans? What is your dream design project?

GA : Our growth path is to get involved in more brand strategy and implementation areas. Get involved in the customer experience beyond the brand touchpoints that do not include face-to-face interactions. One of my passions is hunting, and I try to feed my family as much wild game meat as possible as a healthier alternative to industrially farmed meat. A dream project would be to work with Italian brands like Beretta, Perazzi, or Renato Gamba; brands with immense brand equity in the hunting world yet are radically underleveraged.

What are your advices to designers who are at the beginning of their career?

GA : Listen twice as much as you talk. Appreciate other designers' work, don't envy it or criticize it! You just don't know the context of the project.

You are truly successful as a designer, what do you suggest to fellow designers, artists and architects?

GA : I've learned that authenticity is essential to success in design. Take risks; it is not heart surgery. When we design something so that nobody hates it, nobody will love it either. Design for the few that will get it.

What is your day to day look like?

GA : Every day is an adventure and a blessing. My day is spent supporting my team to become better than they think they are and, interacting with clients, learning about how we can support them better.

How do you keep up with latest design trends? To what extent do design trends matter?

GA : I have never believed in trends. A trend forces you as a designer to put style before function. It is the equivalent of designing from an emotional position and not from a place of actionable intelligence.

How do you know if a product or project is well designed? How do you define good design?

GA : If it is fit for purpose. If it makes our clients feel properly represented and makes them stand out.

How do you decide if your design is ready?

GA : This moment is hard to describe, it is the moment when I feel at peace with the project when I can stop fighting to find a solution.

What is your biggest design work?

GA : There are a few. I designed the emblem for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. We also designed the brand identity for Tonic Active, an activewear company actively competing with large brands like Nike, Adidas, and Victoria's Secret, in 48 countries worldwide. As well, and most importantly, the brand identity that won this award for BTY Group. We've worked with them since 2010 when they only had five offices across Canada. 12 years later, they have a presence in 4 continents with over 17 offices worldwide. I am proud to say that we have collaborated with them since, allowing them to respond to opportunities.

Who is your favourite designer?

GA : Dieter Rams. Massimo Vignelli. Both of them understood the importance and elegance that comes from simplicity.

Would you tell us a bit about your lifestyle and culture?

GA : My favourite city is impossible to define! I feel alive in Madrid. I feel humbled by Paris; it is a monument to humanity! Music plays such a special role in my creative process that my design firm is named after Philip Glass's Piano Etudes.

Would you tell us more about your work culture and business philosophy?

GA : We believe in working with humility, leaving any egos behind. Always think about learning from each other, as opposed to trying to outdo each other. Our objective is to ensure our clients feel properly represented in their market landscapes.

What are your philanthropic contributions to society as a designer, artist and architect?

GA : I don't make any philanthropic contributions to society as a designer; my philanthropic contributions are focused on nature and habitat restoration.

What positive experiences you had when you attend the A’ Design Award?

GA : It pushes you to work even harder; it enriches you as a designer as you see the wealth of work presented and how creative people were with their particular projects. It is a humbling experience overall!

Gonzalo Alatorre Profile

BTY Brand Identity Logo and Applications

BTY Brand Identity Logo and Applications design by Gonzalo Alatorre


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