Interview: Francisco Tellechea
Today’s interviewee is someone very special to me: Francisco Tellechea.
He’s from the Southern part of Brazil, lives in NY, and works with the uber talented Creative Director Giovanni Bianco.
Francisco is always aware of what’s best and trendy, and has one of the best personalities I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.
In his interview for 917 Diaries, Francisco shared a little bit about his life in the Big Apple, his favorite spots in the city, and his relationship with fashion. A must-read!
My dear friend, thank you so much for this interview!
You are from the suburbs in the State of Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil, how did you end up living in NY?
I was born in Uruguaiana and moved to Porto Alegre [the State’s capital] when I was 9 years old. That’s where I lived for most of my life. I graduated in Administration with a major in Marketing at ESPM, and when I was close to graduating, on May 2010, I felt I needed to spend some time abroad. I could no longer stand living in Brazil. I lived in London for a while but had to move back home because I needed to finish my final thesis to graduate from college. I have always liked movies and wanted to work with it, so I started researching some film production classes at NY Film Academy. I had never been to NY, but I had always felt like coming to the city, and this was the perfect opportunity. It only took me two weeks between deciding to come to NY and actually moving here. I decided to take a movie production class, and ended up working in 10 short-films. I also wrote, directed, and edited two short-films of my own. We were a group of five people, and we had to split our responsibilities among ourselves to produce each of these short-films. As I was about to finish working on these projects, I started feeling desperate not to go back to Brazil.
And how did things work out? Did you end up staying for good?
No, because I had to go back to Brazil due to some family business. One day, I was having dinner with my aunt and she said: “you have always been a person up to date with everything [culturally and fashion speaking], I need to introduce you to someone. You need to meet Giovanni Bianco, whom I have been working with. You need to work with him.” I told her I couldn’t because I was about to start interning with Jaime Monjardim [Brazilian movie and TV Director]. But I went to Sao Paulo Fashion Week and ended up meeting Giovanni, and he told me to come to NY and do an interview. Since Jaime is a close family friend, I went back to Rio [where he would have been interning], talked to him about this new opportunity and asked for his advice. He [Jaime] said I should go for it – go to NY – because a chance to work with this guy [Giovanni] would only happen once. He also said the door would always be open for me to work with him. It all happened between December 2010 and February 2011, and by April I had already scheduled my interview with Giovanni here in NY. I had an interview with their Project Manager and I started working there as an intern.
And how did everything evolve? What is your role in the company today?
I interned for a year and when my year was almost over, I received an offer to work at Vogue Duomo. The studio [Giovanni Bianco], however, offered me to be one of their Account Managers – which would be the contact between the client and the company taking care of the Brazilian clients – and I accepted it. This happened a little over a year and a half ago, and I was just recently promoted to Project Manager. I take part in all projects and also take care of my personal accounts there. It’s that crazy, fast-paced NY life we all know. But this is a good thing and what makes this city special, right? Anyway, that’s how it all started and I just love working there. I have always liked fashion, but at first I thought I liked fashion but didn’t think I was going to enjoy working with it. I guess I was a little afraid. I have always liked [working] with Marketing ever since I started college, so when I saw this opportunity of working with Marketing in Fashion, it was the perfect match for me.
How would you describe your job on a daily basis?
We are both a graphic studio and a branding agency. So, depending on the client, we will work on different projects. There are clients – the majority of them – for whom we will work on a story from its creation up to their campaign concept; taking care of all creative aspects, following up with the shooting. Giovanni is the creative and art director and will also work on the post-production phase of it as well. So, we work on all the processes that lead to the shooting, the shooting itself and post-production, until everything is printed in a magazine. One other aspect of the GB65 is the creation of logos, the development of a brand identity, and everything involving the brand in question. And we also create all the invitations to our clients’ fashion week shows. We forward all the graphic material to them. It’s a lot of work!
Most people only think about fashion itself and all the pictures that are published on Vogue… People don’t imagine how much glamour this business actually lacks; zero glamour. Yes, there is this tiny little part that has a little bit of glamour, but it’s like one per cent of it all; maybe for a very short time while you are working on the photoshoot, after hours of work, when you actually start seeing the results and you think; “yes, so this is all the glamour there is in fashion.” There is just so much hard work behind it all, so many sleepless nights, so much research and dedication.
When you first started doing research for this job, was there anything that called your attention?
I really enjoy the early stages of every job, all the research involved, the creation… I also really like the projects Giovanni developed early on, when he first started working with DSquared2. It was something a little somber, something quite sexy, something completely different from what everyone was doing back in the day, so I really like his work from that time. There are also some editorial for Brazilian Vogue that Giovanni made in the past and that I think are incredible and some are quite interesting. I truly identify myself with Giovanni’s esthetics; it’s something modern and yet clean. And in my opinion, I enjoy everything he does. I really admire him, so that helps a lot as well.
Is there a campaign you were part of and that you think; wow, this one was special! Either because it was something that worked out well, or because you have an affinity with the brand… There is always one that touches us in a special way.
One that I have worked closely, and that I truly loved was the Arezzo’s Fall/Winter 13 [ Brazilian shoe brand]. We worked with model Sky Ferreira and one of my favorite photographers, Inez & Vinoodh. This one was one that had the chance to work directly with them and it made me feel like: Oh-My-God! But looking back at the studio’s history, there are just so many, it is really hard to choose from. I believe Madonna’s Secret Project is another very special one. Besides all the political ideas behind it [trying to revolutionize things and trying to change people’s minds] it is a very beautiful project, the video, the images… Having the chance to work with Steven Klein is always such a learning experience; his vision, his very strong esthetics.
Due to your work and involvement with fashion and art, is there a client that ended up having a special meaning to you?
Well, from our client list, I would have to say I am crazy about Miuccia Prada – the Miu Miu brand as a client – I think she is a true genius, simply exceptional! I also really admire Donatella Versace for the way she is rebuilding her brother’s empire, and she is making a big comeback. Versace has been doing extremely well and exceeding expectations for the past two years, especially after we started working with them. It is a partnership that really worked out. But MiuMiu/Miuccia is just unbeatable. All their esthetical structure, all the history behind it… You can notice how everything is well thought; the collection, the setting, everything is the way it is for a purpose. Seeing every model that is walking their runway, the casting… Milimetrically well thought, and completely focused on their clients and demographic. I really admire the way they think about their MiuMiu and Prada clients, in a way that is directly targeted and the way every brand should do it but that for some reason not always happen the way it should.
It is amazing how you start understanding the other side – I mean my final product as a consumer – you start admiring a brand because you now understand how this whole process works. You sometimes start liking brands that you wouldn’t otherwise as a consumer. I, no doubt, started admiring fashion even more after I started working with it and understood everything that goes behind it.
What would you say to someone who wishes to work as a creative director?
Well, if someone wishes to come to NY and work with this? I would say study very hard!!! Study a lot about history, photography, art, esthetics, how things have evolved over the years… At the same time the esthetics has changed, we are always revisiting older things. It is very important to know the background and know what has happened since the beginning so you can have a foundation to new things to come. You have to be very passionate because you really need to work very hard.
Your daily routine is no easy breezy. What do you do when you need to relax but can’t leave the city?
I run to the gym to do my spinning class or just run on the treadmill. These are my two addictions and my outlet. I also enjoy walking around town; it really relaxes me.
I know you really enjoy dining out. What are your favorite restaurants?
There is something weird about dining in NY for me because it changes all the time. I used to have favorite restaurants that I look back and think; “how did I ever like that?” Each restaurant is for a specific moment. If I were looking for a fun and cool place to go out, it would be Acme. The food is great, the atmosphere is great, pretty people around. This place tends to be unanimity among the fashion crowd (LOL). I also really like Gema. As far as the more traditional ones go, that can be hard, there are just so many options. If I had to choose an Italian one, it would be Morandi in the West Village. I lived for six months right next to Morandi, so the place sort of became my second home, and that is why it holds a special place in my heart. As far as the touristy ones go, I really like the Standard Grill, which, in my opinion, has the best octopus in NY. I like to go to Souen for healthy food. But if I had to pick the “ultimate one” it would have to be Acme. But I stopped taking my friends who come visit me in NY there because it is becoming famous among tourists, so it is starting to lose its charm. But soon there will be a “new Acme”. There is also this restaurant in my neighborhood [he lives in the East Village] I have been very into, Back Forty.
What is your favorite museum here in NY?
Oh, Momaaa!! (LOL!) I just love modern art. As far as painting goes, I am very into Jackson Pollock’s abstract and expressionist art; the mix of colors. I also really like Picasso. As far as photography goes, if I had to think of a list of photographers – dead or alive – Richard Avedon, whom I love and think has revolutionized everything in this field. For a more current one, it would have to be Inez & Vinoodh (Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin ), because I just really like their sensibility. The creativity behind their whole process is just simply fascinating to me, and they are absolutely great when it comes to photos and videos.
Where would you pick as your weekend getaway destination? Where do you like to go when you want to escape from NY but can’t really travel too far?
I like Fire Island very much; it is a place I can balance things with their native life. The fact that there are no buildings or cars, and that you can only walk around there. The houses and native, almost desert beaches, the beauty on the horizon… Seeing the sea is something very important for me to feel free. At the same time that you can have all this calmness, there is also a side with great parties, bars, and restaurants. It is a great place where you can balance both things.
You might travel a lot for work since you have a lot of international clients. Is there a specific city that has made you look at it with different eyes after going for work?
The first time I went to Los Angeles I didn’t like it. I came back thinking; “No, I don’t like that place. Don’t wanna go back. Argh, been there, done that!” I eventually went back to work on a project and I was not excited at all about the trip, but I ended up having the chance to see it through different eyes. The first time I visited it was all about clubbing, partying, and it was all very superficial. This time, however, I had the chance to experience a different side; a more real and professional side. I was introduced to a very rich cultural life that I didn’t know existed until then. There were several good exhibits and I didn’t know LA had such a great cultural life. I knew some of the great art galleries had started there, like the Gagosian, but I had no idea how good it was. I was truly impressed.
What is your favorite place in the world?
My answer is going to be one given by a very spoiled person; my mother’s house in Brazil! (LOL!). It is not necessarily the city, but the house itself. It is not the connection with the South of Brazil, but with her house and for the fact that I am very close and attached to my family. I talk several times a day with my sisters – from the time I wake up until I go to bed – until I run out of battery on my phone. If I spend more than two days without speaking on the phone with my mother – not taking whatsapp into account – it feels like there is something wrong. But if I had to pick a city, it would be New York. I can’t imagine myself anywhere else.
What makes you love NY so much?
It is actually a love-and-hate felling; otherwise there is something wrong. Ups and Downs. But what really fascinates me is that this is a city that allows everyone to be whoever he or she wants to be. It allows you to expose your personality in a way that no one will judge you and people actually value you for it. They value your work, who you are, value your story and how you got there. This is what I admire the most and what makes my eyes shine in this city. NY gives you the opportunity to be who you want to be. It is like they say in the song; “if you make it here, you can make it anywhere”. And I know everyone says the same thing but it is the truth. But as I mentioned before, it is a love and hate feeling. There are days that all I can think of is moving back to Brazil. But then I wake up the next day, go out, cross the street and see a yellow cab, and everything goes back to normal, and I start loving NY again! Whenever I am visiting Brazil, when it’s almost time to come back to NY, I usually start thinking that, maybe, I could move back there. Then I board the plane back to NYC and the feeling starts subsiding a little. By the time I land at JFK, all I can think of is; how can I not come back? I have finally arrived home!
The fact that NY is such a safe city is also very important to me. I walk to work. When would I ever be able to do such thing in Brazil? Never! Sometimes I even walk home later in the evening after a dinner. The cultural side of the city, public transportation that actually works… It is a democratic city in that sense and you can have a lot for less here [when compared to Brazil]. Everything is born and reborn here.
I was reading and interview the other day and they asked this person what was one of the things she liked the most about NY. She said it was the fact that she enjoyed working at a company where the person in a lower hierarchy than hers could have the same opportunities that she could have. I think this is wonderful about this city and truly represents it.
You are a very stylish person. How would you define your style and who are your style icons?
I don’t think I can define my style. There are times I enjoy more casual clothes and sometimes I am into something more formal. It all varies with my mood. But I am always seeking something that has a great cut and good fabrics. I am very democratic when it comes to choosing my clothes because I enjoy having different things and mixing them together. As far as my fashion icons go, I am going to name two people very different from each other. I love Tom Ford for his impeccable elegance and James Dean’s casualness and attitude.