The spirit of creative studio Dedo Ciego stands in contrast to the grid structure of Barcelona’s Eixample district where it is based. Yet it is on these 19th century streets that Creative Director Joaquin Urbina and Art Director Ana Gale break aesthetic molds through art exploration. He builds on his Venezuelan roots and 17-years of experience in the entertainment industry, while she is shaped by her Slovenian roots and an admiration of freedom.
“Dedo represents something tangible, since our portfolio is very organic even though it is digital,” says Gale.
“It is a finger that uses the sense of touch to look for things; it is intuitive, it feels around to find things,” says Urbina referring to the name of the studio which translates as “blind finger.”
Their paths crossed when working for No-Domain, a studio founded in Barcelona in 2003 by Urbina and his Venezuelan colleagues.
“It didn’t have much to do with the Spanish world or Catalan design, which is neat, clean and rational.” he said. “Instead, it related more to a Latino visceral element, because we were all Venezuelan in the studio. With No-Domain, we almost created our own school.”
Meanwhile, Gale moved to Spain from Slovenia.
“I arrived in Barcelona after obtaining my degree in graphic design, but I lacked the confidence to experiment with dimension and movement. No-Domain opened up a new world for me. I was infected with this freedom that did not exist in my own country,” says Gale.
Dedo Ciego’s Roots
No-Domain set the foundation of Dedo Ciego’s experimental nature, which can be seen in the studio’s 2010 branding for the now-defunct over-the-air network 3XL.
“The creative concept was ‘to go through;’ they wanted to be the first multiplatform channel of the time and were willing to take this risk. We proposed using a glitch—blowing out and perforating the image in a myriad of ways,” says Urbina.
“It was not a clear concept. We needed to test it, so we requested three months for experimentation. The channel bet on something we had not produced yet,” says Gale.
Dedo Ciego incorporated an editable glitch into all the programming, delivering hard disks with an array of pieces, as well as a style guide.
Another project No-Domain handed off to Dedo Ciego was the branding of Canal Viajar, a travel network that’s part of Canal+.
“We asked No-Domain to fulfill communication expectations around a theme the programming team gave us every month,” says Ricardo Fernández Sánchez, head of design at Canal+’s Movistar+.“In addition to transmitting the values of the brand, they presented a piece that was surprising and relaxed, with a touch of humor.”
For Canal Viajar’s 2008 branding, for example, the studio created idents for each season around the concept of “a year of travel.”
Four directors combined their illustrations and animations into a collage for each season, such as birds migrating in the spring and a jam-packed freeway during the summer holidays. Each piece , ended in the winter, when all the characters gathered together to celebrate Christmas Eve.
Transitioning to Dedo Ciego
When No-Domain closed in 2011, Urbina continued working as a director using the studio’s name, this time partnering with Gale as art director. During this stage, they created a campaign for mobile network operator Yoigo, in collaboration with agency El Laboratorio and defunct production company 8 de Agosto
“Because it was a low-cost campaign, we wanted the production to reflect that aesthetic,” says Carlos Holemans, founder of El Laboratorio and current creative officer of Deloitte Digital. “We were exploring different ways to find, with limited resources, a level of art direction and aesthetics that were exquisite. We were looking for a video artist sensible enough to work in advertising, where freedom limits are not infinite,”
Another case is the campaign for car insurance company Direct Seguros, where Dedo Ciego teamed up with production company August and El Laboratorio.
“Our client’s tagline was ‘If it is unclear, it is not Direct,’ says Holemans. “We needed a campaign where we stood for simplicity and intelligibility. We all agreed that the minimum unit we were going to work with was going to be a cube animated with stop motion, stemming from text written below the word ‘Direct’.”
Around this same time, Urbina, along with production company Blackbox, created a series of Christmas bumpers for Movistar+’s Canal #0.
“At a creative level, we wanted to produce pieces with a holiday atmosphere, but without that atmosphere taking center stage,” says Fernández Sánchez. “We wanted to showcase #0 with a very experimental piece, aesthetically beautiful, in which the tagline ‘2016 is the year #0’ played with the idea that the new year is also part of the Christmas season.”
In the end, Dedo Ciego transformed the zeroes into snowflakes.
Establishing a Style
In 2016, Urbina and Gale officially became Dedo Ciego with the production of the clip Bailar by JMII, Jami Bassols (Hivern Discs).
“It coincided with a time in which we wanted to start with a piece of our own, marking our signature style, and that included a bit of everything we had already done,” says Urbina.
The spot distills the studio’s minimalist and hypnotic tone, where sound serves as a guideline for geometric forms that take on different identities.
Another experimental work was a pitch for Fox Movies.
“The brief asked to explore what you remember from films, like flashbacks where you can’t form complete memories,” says Gale.
The agency ended up creating a Dada-esque collage based on masks that combined different movie fragments.
“We produced many sequences to create flashes, and then joined them in a poetic collision,” says Urbina.
“We obtained something almost plastic, drawn,” adds Gale.
They also used typography and emphasized the shape of a triangle to depict a “play” symbol, born as an intersection between the line that connects the letters M and X in Fox Movies.
Another project was for investment management firm Swiss Partners, in which the studio worked for mixed-media producer Brut. The company invited artists from around the world to work around different taglines that started with ‘The art of.’
Dedo Ciego created ‘The art of performance,’ a piece that’s nostalgic about the world of cinema.
The studio intends to bridge worlds and techniques, and grow even further along the mixed media path.
“We want to continue exploring a narrative that has depth in filming and in all the manual techniques we make; to mix them at another level,” says Urbina. “We refuse to specialize.”
Version español: Creative Review: Dedo Ciego