Rui Carneiro is a 27 year old graphic designer from Portugal who specializes in band merchandise and sometimes album artwork. Over the past year he’s worked with bands like Varials, Silent Planet, I Prevail, and A Day To Remember.
He says that “anything and everything that has to do with any sort of music style and movies inspires me. The more outside of the box, the better.”
He graduated college three years ago with no intentions or desire to create anything graphically. He took a multimedia degree that taught a bit of everything that has to do with the digital world: video, marketing, publicity, 3D, programming and graphic design.
Rui knew one thing: he wanted to be part of the music world. He’s been obsessed with music since age 14. His friends knew him as the “music encyclopedia” because he knew every song, every album, every band member change, every label. “I loved music so much that I wanted to know everything about all bands I liked,” he told me..
A year after graduating, Rui decided to create phone wallpapers on Photoshop of his favourite bands just to pass the time. He started posting them online and people really liked them. He kept posted. Eventually, he started experimenting with applying those same designs onto t-shirts. “Again, people resonated with them really well so I decided to start tagging bands on the designs I made in hopes that one of them would hire me,” Rui said.
“Years and months went on without any band reaching out to me. I did not give up. Through my dying love for music, I was already kind of a “friend” of my favourite band – the American metal band Silent Planet. I would constantly reply to them on Twitter and comment on all their posts so they already knew who I was (and lets be honest, Rui is not a typical American name – its easy to linger in the memory haha).”
“At around September 2018, Silent Planet announced their third album “When The End Began” and I came the conclusion this could be a benefit us both. I created a design that was a re-imagination of the Silent Planet logo in a retro style and posted on twitter. The band itself saw it and shared it on their page and it got a massive feedback from the fans. One day later I got a message from the vocalist – Garrett – and he wanted to have that design on the album pre-order bundle. I could not believe that my favourite band would want a design made by me to represent their new album. That was the start of it all.”
Up until February of 2019, he didn’t work with any other band. But then, it all changed. Rui kept posting designs on social media and through them, the band Casey, who were preparing their final tour, emailed him to create merchandise items for all their dates and shows. Rui ended up making 4 of the 6 items they had live and their tour backdrop.
“These news were monumental on two fronts: I was and am a massive Casey fan and they started a huge snowball of my career – tons and tons of bands came to because of those designs. The bands Issues, Lotus Eater, Varials, Thousand Below, A Day To Remember, Wage War, Dayseeker and many more hired me on the upcoming months and I decided to quit the job I had on May 2019 to pursue graphic design as full time job.”
Rui’s had a few memorable experiences as a graphic designer, he told me, “One of them is getting to work with Casey as I stated before. Not only it was my first ever big client but it was a really important moment to the band and I think most fans absolutely loved the designs I created.”He explained that getting to work with Issues in September and creating all the merch for their Beautiful Oblivion world tour was amazing. Rui said, “I even flew to the UK to see them live, met the band and they were so nice to me.” Back in November, Rui spent a week in New York, “One thing that will always blow me away and leave me breathless is going to shows and see people wear the merch I created. Even across the globe – I spent a week in NY in November and I got the chance to see Varials live, who I became great friends with after creating about 20 merch items for them and there was tons of people at the show with clothing I made of various bands.”
Rui was always a skeptical person. “I’d never believe those success stories you read online about people who break through, chase their dreams and get them. I’d never thought it’d happen to me. But hey, here I am.”
“Not only did I always looked down on my skills and abilities, I second guessed every move I made, always striving to be perfect. I’d suffer when I couldn’t match the massive high standards I always had for me. Not because I believe I am the very best, which I certainly am not, but because I was terrified of failure. I still struggle with these thoughts but I’ve come to learn that I’m constantly learning and improving at my craft. I learned not to give up even when I spend days without creating anything good enough.”
Rui reminds himself that people are all different in our own way and that we all come from different places, have different tastes and likes. “I might love a design and swear by it and a client might choose one that I don’t care for much. This taught me to be more understanding and acceptable of all opinions.”“Designing taught me to embrace all styles and opinions worldwide. We all come from different places in life and my vision is mine alone. I must be open to understand the we all like different things and sometimes we will not see eye to eye but we must strive to find common ground.” May is Mental Health Awareness Month, which can be personal for people. I asked him, “how do you think art and creating can help a person with mental health issues?”
“I always feel tremendously anxious when it came to “important” moments in my life: exams, tests, presentations. I was always terrified of failure,” he explained.
He sometimes feel the same with design, “I always want to improve and bring something new to the table and most times I find that my work is not where I want it to be.”
“BUT, on the other hand, it also brings me solace getting to do something I love just for the sake of loving it. Music has always meant so much to me and having the chance to have my work out there in the world bring me much pride.” He loves finishing a design and sitting back. Rui explained that it brings him clarity and peace.
Everyone has bad days and it’s important to bring to light these feelings during May, Mental Health Awareness Month.Rui said, “Those are always hard for me. I struggle with anxious thoughts and I wonder constantly if I’ll ever pull through or if I’ll ever be good enough. But I always do. That’s the key for me. Even with all the mist, there’s always a light and I always get there. It might take me more somedays but the light is always reachable. I just can’t forget that I CAN pull through like I always did.” He likes to take a step back, breathe, and try to distract his mind from these bad thoughts along with doing other hobbies. He said it tends to help. If Rui isn’t creating a design he is gaming on most days! He likes Final Fantasy games, Call Of Duties and much more, “I’ve been playing games even before I listened to bands and I’m sure I always will. Of course, I go out with my girlfriend and friends when they have free time too!”
If you had to share one tip about always staying creative and engaged in designing, what would it be?Thats a bit hard for me cause I struggle with being creative most times. Still, when I have no new ideas I looking for inspiration everywhere BUT what I’m trying to do. You wanna create a metal t-shirt? Take a look at movie poster. Cereals boxes – anything but it. For me, the small details can spark a tons of ideas.
What advice would you give to a designer who may be overwhelmed and not know where to begin?The internet is your biggest friend. You can learn almost anything with Youtube, use it! Photoshop tips, how to use illustrator, color theory, anything! Also, don’t be discouraged with other’s people success. No one was born a designer. Some of us started way older (I’m almost 30 haha) so don’t worry! Keep working and trying new things. I struggle with creating my own style and identity but I know I’ll eventually get there – through constant practice and never giving up. If I can do it, anyone can!
He set a goal for 2020: “95% of my work is merchandise so at the end of 2019 I told myself I wanted to created a full on album – booklet, vinyl variants, everything regarding the physical aspect of the record.”
Now in May he’s happy to announce that’s he already completed that goal, “I’m happy to say that I’ve done it at the start of the year and it’ll be revealed when the band decides so this year!”
One of Rui’s other wants is to work with pop artists since he mostly work with metal bands, “Their style is so different and forward thinking that I want to have my take on their merch too.”Lately, he’s been working with “metalcore” titans A Day To Remember and he’s super pumped for everyone to see what designs he came up with! Rui’s last message to the readers of For The Punks is: “Do not give up. Doesn’t matter what it is in life – whether it is designing, creating something, striving for a goal you set for yourself – you can do it. Take a step back and remind yourself that you have gotten this far.” He wants to say thank you to his amazing girlfriend Ana for always supporting him and him passion for music. He also wants to thank all of his family and friends for always lifting him up!
Rui says, “And of course, thank you For the Punks for this amazing interview!”