Cromatic Geek of the Week: Zavate Maria // branding | cinemagraphs

Hey there! This section of our blog will be dedicated to promoting our team, in any way they want to. We’re going to question them about themselves, their life, and their hobbies and obviously provide some juicy details too.
It’s gonna be a weekly thing, so stay tuned if you want to get to know us a little better.

You’ve read our previous article about Adi, our Brand Designer. Today it’s all about Maria Zavate, our Cinemagraph enthusiast. If you’d have to summarize her in a couple of words you’d say she’s a smart-dressed Visual Artist, passionate about traveling, movies, videography and nature. She loves hiking, nature and spending time in the mountains, like a true explorer.
Let’s explore her eye-candy world!

CS: Hey there, Maria! It’s not polite to ask a woman’s age, but we’re kind of rude anyway. And if we’re here and we’re obnoxious, how about telling us about your adventure of moving from your hometown to Bucharest. We’ve heard it’s a good story.
M: Hello! I really see no problem in sharing my age, or even asking others about it. Hehe. Every age has its perks. I’m 26 and I’ve recently embarked on this ‘’big city life adventure’’ in February 2018. I’ve studied Art History and Graphic Design in Iasi for about 5 years. Iasi was the kind of city that you never want to leave, you know? But professionally, it wasn’t my cup of tea. After a few failed interviews, where some of them didn’t even bother to respond and others had bad offers, I decided to leave. But not right away. 

After this series of unfortunate events, I decided to freelance for a year, but then felt the need to be part of a team, to get on that feedback loop, to feel supported. This became my number one priority. And with this thought, there I was on my way to the capital. I’ve always rejected the idea of moving here because I’m more of a nature person and Bucharest is more of a concrete jungle. In 2017, I found myself on a two week long trial, enjoying the warm September breeze, on the streets of Bucharest. I was just getting a little taste of the city and I could understand its perks, its magic. It got me then and there.

I decided to start looking for jobs. I googled ‘’Design studios’’, but no one was looking to hire. That didn’t discourage me, though. I was like ‘’what the heck? I’ll send at least one email.’’

And I got really lucky because in February 2018 that email paid off. And here I am, writing from the Design studio that was number 1 on my list.

I’ll have to admit, as a Designer, I was and still am a work in progress, but Cromatic believed in me and I will always be grateful for that. 

CS: A little birdy told us that you’re kind of a cinephile. What movie would you say that influenced you the most? And why?
M: I can’t answer without feeling like I betray some in favor of others. But I’ll try. I love everything Denis Villeneuve creates and I’ll always be mesmerized by the disturbing pace of Paul Thomas Anderson’s movies.
Generally speaking, I’m always into movies that challenge my beliefs. A movie can either be pure entertainment, – which I sometimes enjoy with a big bowl of that preposterous popcorn -, or they can play a crucial role in the ‘’intellectual awakening of people’’, like Audrey Totou said in an interview.

CS: You’re a bit of a Swiss knife at work. Explain in a sentence what your job title is at Cromatic Studios. But there’s a catch! You have to explain it as if you’re talking to a 5 year old. GO!
M: Oh, wow! That’s a nice compliment! Thank you! A sentence, you say? I’ll try. It sounds something like this: ’’Hey, kiddo! You know when your mom says that you have to eat your veggies? I’m that person who makes avocado look like ice-cream and salad taste like chocolate chips. Let’s say I create useful imagery in eye-candy form’’. Okay, it’s a phrase, but you can’t say I didn’t try!

CS: Besides creating beautiful imagery for our Instagram account and our clients, what other projects can you brag about right now?
M: Well, I’m pretty self-critical. I wouldn’t say I’m at that point where I can brag about my projects, but there are some I’m pretty pleased about. The art direction I did for AGVA (my colleagues did an amazing job following my visual directions), the series of cinemagraphs I did for Two Minutes Coffeeshop the Branding for Let’s Grow (including their website). I can’t say much about other projects, but I’m really excited because I’ve learned how to use different programs like Adobe XD (a blessing in disguise for Web designers everywhere) and After Effects. Especially useful techniques such as Croma Key and masks. Those really helped take my cinemagraphs to the next level.


CS: What’s with your obsession with the mountains? Do you have any cool stories?
M: I wouldn’t say it’s an obsession, but it’s definitely my favorite environment because I feel like I’m more in touch with my humanity there. Mountains teach you the art of being humble and help you understand fear better. In my opinion, if you get sucked into the mountain vibe, learn to read nature’s signs and understand that besides being dangerous, it can feel more like a home, you’ll love it too.

CS: About the movie thing, are you planning on becoming the next Tarantino?
M: Haha, not planning on it! But I thought so in high school. It was a time where I used to think I could be a film director, so I prepared a whole year to get accepted into UNATC  just to realize that I’m not so great at giving people directions. I don’t like being in charge because, tbh, I’m kinda shy and I’m always afraid of hurting people’s feelings. But then I discovered cinemagraphs, which are a combo between Photography (a much lonelier road than film) and Video. And the best part about it is that I don’t even need a whole team to do it. It’s a more approachable medium that still allows you to turn your creative thoughts into mesmerizing visuals. 

CS: What’s the most annoying thing about your job? Tell us E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G.
M:Oh, God! I don’t even know where to start! I’ll just let memes we make speak for themselves. I’m obviously kidding. I think I’m lucky to be working in this field. Sometimes I get a little bit frustrated when I’m not capable of explaining my ideas, so I have to turn them into visuals right away so that everyone understands them and that can be very time consuming. Other than that I kinda dislike doing small modifications such as changing diacritics or compromising a key visual to suit the client’s aesthetic needs (or lack thereof).

CS: We’ve been talking a lot about movies, Photography and Videography. But how about music? What music do you listen to? Do you listen to an artist based on how good their videos are?
M: I’ve never liked a song JUST because it had a good music video, but it definitely plays an important part and can make me understand and love the song more. For example, Jamie Xx – Gosh, or all of Alt-j’s music videos. Whenever they release something I prefer watching the video and not listening to the song beforehand because I know visuals will make me feel a certain way. If we’re talking about genres, my playlist is a mixture of oldies, jazzy beats, ecstatic trance, some OSTs, trip-hop and some guilty pleasure pop songs. Oh, and I want to add that Cromatic Studios is like a giant Jukebox. I’ve shazamed a couple of good tunes here. Here’s an sexy oldie.

CS: Tell us about some cool projects you have in the making right now.
Like all creatives out there, it’s hard to shut my brain off after work. In the previous post, Adi spoke about his future clothing line and I’d like to add that as soon as I get home, I also get immersed in my personal projects. I guess I’m a bit addicted to screen-time. I can’t help it!
I’m currently working on my website and I’m really excited about it. It’s going to be a mixture of my cinemagraph portofolio, Blogging, travelling, Film and life in Bucharest. It’s going to be a more complex extension of my Instagram account. So, yeah! That’s the coolest thing I’m working on at the moment. I have a stupid grin on my face right now, just writing about it. 

CS: What’s a normal day in the life of Maria? Details, please.
M: I think it’s the perfect time to tone down the storytelling and get real. A normal day in my life involves getting up, staring at the ceiling for no reason until I’m late, eating in a hurry, wasting more time on the toilet so that I’m extra late, then getting on my bike just to remember I’ve forgotten my helmet at home, going back to get it then biking my way to work in a race against time. Once I get to work, I work work work work work, join in on the food ordering train, from time to time, crack a few filthy jokes, then race back home, workout, eat something that I cook or just start a war with my roommate because I decide to eat their food and I end my day with personal projects (that’s code for endlessly scrolling on Instagram) and a good book or Netflix show and some well-deserved rest.

CS: Do you follow any good Instagram accounts? Why do you like them?
Oh yassss! There’s a lot of amazing creative work out there, for sure! But lately, I’ve been crazy selective with my content. I think that mindless scrolling can sometimes leave you insecure or alienated and most of the time it doesn’t add real value to your life. So now I just follow accounts that inspire me as an artist and as a person.

  • For example, Coffentropy is one of the honest Romanian accounts I follow.
  • Another one, if I want to get my dose of Fashion Photography and portraits, is Alessio Albi.
  • Jamie Beck, the inventor of cinemagraphs btw, is perfect if you want to shift your perspective on the world.
  • Chelsea Kauai is the account to check out if you’re into insightful, responsible travelling.
  • Another cool Romanian account I highly recommend for nude Photography enthusiasts would be Chris Devour.
  • Oh, and Film_Geek is a good account for film recs and that’s enough for now.

I also follow a lot of people exclusively for their stories. Ig stories are different than Instagram’s feed because they allow you to be more transparent, more in the now and more in touch with your audience. I don’t care for eye-candy content if it doesn’t have a good idea attached to it, like an insightful text, or something witty or bits of useful information. 


CS:  Tell us about the mountains you had to climb since you’ve been exploring the peaks of Cromatic Studios. When did you come here, how was your journey and what have you learned about yourself?
I learned a lot of stuff in the last one year and a half I’ve spent here, but I’ll focus on one, in particular: dealing with feedback. With time, I’ve learned to listen to the client more because the final version of my work is meant to be shaped after them, not me. Even if they don’t tell me much, my job is to read between the lines then translate that into visuals.
And also, I’ve learned not to get too attached to my projects and put my ego aside, so that I can make room for my skills. This shift of perspective changed the way I work and me, as an individual. No ego, no stress. 

CS: What’s your usual creative process? Whether it’s Photography, Videography, Instagram or Design.
M: Research – Sketch – Work – Feedback – Final Work

CS: Ok, we’ve got the movie part down. But what TV shows do you like? Any guilty pleasures? You know, like Love Island.
Gosh darn it! I can’t skip this question, right? My current guilty pleasure is, *drumroll pls*, Gossip Girl. Yup! I’m into watching rich kids scheme, create drama and act like they’re the center of the Universe. Actually, if I’m being honest, the first thing I loved about the show was Blake Lively’s legs, but let’s ignore that for now!
On a more serious note, you’re not really taking advantage of the era of complex cinematography that we’re living in if you don’t watch TV shows like Breaking Bad or The Sopranos. My first option would have been Game of Thrones, but I’m still angry after watching the way the last season butchered the story.  Still, regardless of that, I’d say, hands down, that it’s the greatest TV show ever. Right now, I’m waiting for those damn books to heal my wounds.

CS: Say goodbye to our readers only using your own images.

If you have any thoughts join the conversation here.

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