Every brief you take, every business you make, I’ll be helping you
About the project
Traveling the world to shine a light on designers
In January 2018, I left my job to travel around the world to discover new talents. In every country I visited over the next 12 months, I arranged to meet, interviewed and photograph one person working in the creative field. My goal was to meet people, discover talents and design industries that are sometimes underrepresented, and show that everyone has an interesting story to tell, no matter when they come from. I asked them about their story, their process and the industry they are working in. I did the transcript of those interviews in order to create a website containing all those articles. To build a side project, it’s essential to underestimate the amount of work required. It took me more than two years to do this project and I don’t regret any seconds I put into it. There is a lot of countries out there I haven’t been to yet so Esperanto will forever be a work in progress.
Finding the right people and asking the right questions
I knew nothing about interviews so I started by learning more about journalism. I also read a ton of interviews about creatives to detect the common questions that I should avoid in order to be original.
Interviewing 16 creatives in 16 different countries.. it only took me a year and around 116 334 kms
1 - Finding creatives
I wasn’t looking for the most famous creative or the best at their crafts. I was trying to find someone who deserves recognition. I wrote more emails than I can remember and the answering ratio wasn’t great but I kept pushing.
2 - Interviewing
I went to 16 different workplaces. I got to see from the inside how creative people work across the globe and I was able to connect with them in a personal way. It usually took half a day to meet, get a tour of the office, do the interview, and take the pictures. We often went to grab some food afterward.
Souvenir from Sri Lanka with Lahesh Kavinda in January 2018
3 - Transcripting
I had approximately an hour and a half of audio recording to transcript after each interview. I decided to do it myself (and not pay a service) to analyze my way of interviewing in order to improve.
4 - Rewriting & gathering assets
Once the transcript was done, I needed to tweak some sentences to make it clearer and understandable. Almost none of the creative were native English speakers so I needed to make some changes without altering the essence nor the personality of the creative.
Me shooting Mikiko Kikuoka in the streets of Tokyo, Japan 🇯🇵
I learned the basics of photography and, I watched countless videos on how to direct photoshoots. I knew I wanted to take all the pictures myself because I think it’s the best way to learn and I thought it was a valuable skill to learn as a designer.
Art Direction that match the concept
I wanted the overall style to evoke travels, the adventures, and the personal connections that the Esperanto project represented. To do so, I knew I wanted a primary font with a humanist feel to it and a hand-drawn logo. This wordmark would look almost like what you draw on a notebook while looking trough the window on a long bus ride.
I had to wake up at 2 am to hike a mountain in front of the Bromo Mount in Indonesia to capture this sunrise. It was painful but totally worth it.
The Web Experience
Creating a unique and memorable experience
I wanted something memorable that will draw people’s attention. I knew that if I could design a unique experience, it will have more visitors hence give more expositions to the creatives interviewed. The timeline representing my journey is how I decided to tell the unique Esperanto story. You can follow my journey and stop in any desired country to discover a different creative.
Loader animation representing a compass loading from 0° to 360° that make you dive into the experience
Intro of the website to present the project and set the mood of the overall experience
Retracing linearly the journey
I knew I wanted a timeline to retrace linearly the journey I went through during the year of 2018. We decided to use the kind of vehicles I used the most in each country to add a bit of playfulness to the experience and help better tell the story.
Timeline that presents all the creatives interviewed during the year of 2018.
Finishing the timeline by a simple call to action for the next possible Esperanto.
Giving exposition to everyone with a strong design concept
The problem with telling this story in chronological order with a timeline is that the creatives interviewed at the beginning of the trip get more exposition than the ones after. That’s why I created a menu that gives quick access and the same exposition to all the creatives.
Menu to give a quick access to every articles
An about page to describe the Esperanto project
I didn't have a voice in this project. I needed a place to explain the Esperanto concept and this is where the about page came handy.
About Page to talk about the Esperanto project
The importance of the handheld experience
As this project is meant to be shared and viewed in a lot of different countries, it was important to have a good experience regardless of the size of your screen.
What did I learn?
Getting out of my comfort zone
Traveling for a year with only a backpack means you are experiencing new things every day. You need to adapt yourself to any situation, respect the cultures you are stepping into, know how to make decisions quickly, embrace the unknown, and many more.
Listening to people
My biggest problem during the first interviews was to stop thinking about my next question and to actually listen to the answer to my previous one. I worked a lot on that and I think I’m a better listener now in so many ways
Interviewing Yuan Feng in Beijing, China 🇨🇳
Learning to learn
Learning about photography, interviewing, audio editing, etc… made me better at learning new things.
All that and way more..
When you are traveling, you are constantly asking yourself questions. You are always trying to figure out where to go, how to sleep, or what to eat. You are always packing and trying to take care of your belongings. You are always trying to learn new languages to be able to get around and interact with people. As far as I am concerned, all that learning and new experiences made Esperanto the experience of a lifetime.
Showing the symmetry in the streets of Tokyo, Japan 🇯🇵
Esperanto propelled the careers of designers
"Far away but united by creativity"
The best way to understand the impact of Esperanto is to ask the interviewees how it impacted their career, their life, and their way of experiencing design in different cultures.
Testimonial video from the Esperanto's Interviewees
Product Designer, Sri Lanka 🇱🇰
Esperanto is one of the best things that ever happened to me as a designer. It brought me so much confidence and freedom to express myself. It helps designers to get exposure and it creates an open room to identify hidden talents all over the globe. I wish to see the project grow and see more designers on board and that it will eventually become the world’s first platform to identify best designer talents.
Interactive Designer, New Zealand 🇳🇿
Esperanto pushed me further into my career. I received messages from people that I’ve been following for years and it opened up conversations with agencies that I’ve aspired to work with. Esperanto propels designers and changes the landscape we work in. The love, sweat, and tears that Robin put in this project is pretty astonishing and the amount of effort for someone to do that on their own and unpaid is phenomenal!
Designer, Japan 🇯🇵
Esperanto made me realize that I am a part of this world.It also gave me confidence and a strong feeling that I may inspire someone. Esperanto reminds us of the importance to broaden our perspectives and how important it is to understand other cultures. I’m really grateful that Robin traveled all the way to Japan to give me such a nice opportunity. I am very happy and honored to represent my country in Esperanto.
Designer, Brazil 🇧🇷
We definitely need more project to document the diversity of our design industry. It’s refreshing to have access to so many design cultures that are not the traditional ones that we look for when we need inspiration. That's why, I feel so honored to represent my country, Brazil, in a project like Esperanto.
Digital Designer, Mexico 🇲🇽
Projects like Esperanto helps a lot the industry to create a worldwide connexion between us. We don’t speak the same language but we can understand each other with the language of design. It also helps to learn about other design cultures far from our own perspective. Esperanto is gonna be a big reference when more people will represent more countries. I really felt honored about representing my country with my work.
Illustrator & Logo Designer, Indonesia 🇮🇩
Thanks to Esperanto, I gained more credibility from prospective clients and it’s great to be more known by other designers. Esperanto makes us learn from other designer’s perspectives and it is inspiring for upcoming designers. I hope Esperanto can be held every year in different countries so we can be inspired by designers from all around the world.
Product Designer, China 🇨🇳
Esperanto is breaking the boundaries of our design industry. I think this project is really important for the community because it really highlights the fact that we should design for all human beings with a global empathy in mind. After Esperanto went live, I got messages from designers from different countries and it was amazing!
Digital Designer, Argentina 🇦🇷
For all designers and creatives out there: we are far away, but united by creativity! Esperanto definitely helped spread that message. In addition to the recognition that the project brought me, I loved meeting the designers and creatives from different countries: their way of thinking, their processes, and their final work. I’m already looking forward to seeing Esperanto 2!
Graphic Designer, Peru 🇵🇪
Esperanto gave me more confidence in my work and it also leads me to get new clients. A platform like Esperanto that helps designers by showing their work is great because it’s giving us the opportunity to make ourselves known for our work without being judge by where we are from. I'm very proud to represent my country so thanks again Robin for the opportunity that you have put on each one of us and the exposure you are giving us.
Side projects can take you further than you expect!
I had the honor to talk in front of 1000 people at the Awwwards Conference in Amsterdam! I explained the 5 rules to go from a simple idea all the way to a launched project. I'm also describing my year-long journey around the world to build this Esperanto project!
Talking at the Awwwards Conference in Amsterdam about Esperanto and Side projects in general. Am I a Youtuber now?