Interview with Tomás Fliess

We recently had the opportunity to interview Tomás Fliess of NNSS Visual Universes. This talented designer from Buenos Aires, Argentina, focuses his expertise in the Identity, Print Design, Packaging, and Interactive Design arenas. We want to thank Tomás for not only agreeing to the interview, but for taking the time to answer the questions, we really do appreciate it. So without further ado, here is a closer look inside one of the creative minds behind NNSS Visual Universes.

Are you a freelancer?

No, I am not a freelancer, together with my partner, Federico Engelmann, we have been working during the last ten years in our own project, NNSS visual universes. A design studio that aims excellence in graphics and concept design.


What are your best methods for finding/attracting clients?

I imagine there must be a lots of methods. We usually try to be concious that a good work will attract new clients and projects. That is why we believe that having a good portfolio is basic for clients to trust us. We have to consider that we offer something that is intangible, something they can’t see or touch when they buy our services. Besides selling creativity and design, we have to transmit trust and confidence and one way of doing so is having a good portfolio. We believe every work has to be considered the most important one. And doing so, makes us achieve great results, helping us attract new clients.

Another important part of finding new clients is to maximize all the channels of communication. And there, internet plays a critical role. We try to use internet as a part of our communication as much as possible. That is why we try to update the web constantly, and to create a database with all the people who contact the studio. Specially to send them information about new projects or news.

We also try to post our works in blogs, so people get to know who we are, and what we do. Specially other design studios.

Please tell us more about your art and design background and what made you become an artist and designer?

Particularly for me, since I was a kid, I was attracted to everything that had to do with manual and creative stuff (drawing, painting, building and un building products, fixing devices , etc).

I come from a family of artists, we have architects, designers, make up artists, etc. Mi mother studied arts and crafts. I imagine we carry it in our blood.

I entered to study graphic design without knowing much about what it really was and I loved it. I live design all day long. I think is really important to observe and to have passion. It is a work, a profession, but above all, a hobby that I love. And when your job is your hobby, everything is easier.

In our studio we always try to generate in every project a strong concept that it is achieved after an intensive analysis and research of the essence of the client. We always try to create a story around a brand. That is why we talk about visual universes when we refer to corporate identity.

We try to generate in each case, a new and attractive universe that talks about the essence of the company with a personal and unique design. That is why we always say we just don’t want to create nice and beautiful designs; we look for something deeper, more powerful and creative.


When you first began your career in design, what were some unique challenges you faced? Were there any misconceptions that you had about the design industry back then? How has your perception changed now in hindsight?

In Argentina usually what is creative provoques a little bit of fear, because it is different to what we are used to see. Instead of taking it as an added value to distinguish and position themselves, business men are afraid to do something that it is different to what their competitors are doing.

I think we still have to build a design and innovation consciousness as I see other countries have.

What was your very first job or the first paid project you performed as a graphic designer? How did you land this project?

It was a brand I developed for a Pet Shop I used to worked while I was studying in the University.

What do you feel are the most important skills for a designer to have/develop?

I believe the designer must be an observer. We have to be like sponges that absorb everything.

Learn how to listen to our clients, to understand what they need and what they look for and be able to bring them a proper solution. We have to develop our empathy. To be able to understand our client’s mind. We are not 100% artist that we can create what we like. It’s true that we always put something of us in our work, but we have to understand that we are working for someone who has special needs and objectives.

Another important point for me, is that we have to learn to defend our thoughts and ideas. That is why we usually say everything has to have a why. We always have to explain why we did it that way. There is always a reason on every decision we take. And every reason helps us to defend our point of view and explain the client why we did it that way.


Where do you go for design inspiration?

I believe that the best thing to do during the creative process, is to get out of the computer for a while. The computer must be just a tool we use once we have a clear idea of what we want to do.

To get out of the computer and sit on a quiet place with a pencil and paper, is a good option. But I don’t have a special place for that.

How do you typically start a new project?

The first step is to organize a meeting with all the members in NNSS. Tell them what the project is about, who the client is, what they do, and what they would like. After that, we begin to do a research about the company, the market where they are inmersed, their competitors, etc.

We usually do this to understand the essence of the company. We do a brain storming, and propose alternative ways to talk about it. Once we decide which way best represents the enterprise, we start to look for a graphics adecuated for that unvierse.

Do you have any favorite websites for interacting with others in the design community? (flickr, twitter etc)

We began to be in contact with the design world through blog.

This blog was the one who motivated us. We started to look for other websites and investigate design sites. Logolovedesign is another interesting blog with a lot of interaction. In Argentina, facebook is growing bigger every day, but it is not a designer community. A few days ago we discovered a site similar to facebook but related to design ( We are starting to use it.

What does your typical day look like?

I arrive to the studio at 10 a.m. I drink my coffee while I check my mails. We see which are the activities of the day and in which stage each project is. We start to work while we listen to the radio. We usually take an hour to have lunch, ande then we continue working till 6 p.m. in the afternoon approximately.

What are your 5 favorite sites online?

Who, in the online world, would you say has had the biggest influence on you? (designer, blogger, entrepreneur, etc…)

Graphic Exchange it is a blog where we usually find top quality design. We usually enter the blog to see new projects and studios.

Non-Format, Páprika, Arsthanea are studios that have an amazing level and we admire.


What are the tools you couldn’t live without? (softwares, invoicing tools, time/task-management apps, pen/paper, online etc…)

These are some of the tools I use 90% of the time in work:

Paper and pencil
Internet Explorer

Founder, Chief Product Officer at Tinder. Designer. Foodie. Loves coffee and beta apps. Tweets a lot. for the rundown.


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