Exclusive: Cut&Paste’s John Fiorelli Takes His Design Competition Global

Born back in 2005, Cut&Paste is a live design competition whose mission is to provide channels of visibility and inspiration for designers, both aspiring and established, to reach their existing audience as well as potential fans. Now in its fifth year, this digital design tournament looks to be the biggest, baddest yet, with a 16-city worldwide roster and a slate of three competitions (2D, 3D, Motion Graphics) per city — which is why we’re stoked that Flavorpill is a media partner.

Before the first of this year’s crazy competitions launches next Saturday, February 21 in LA (grab tix here), we caught up with Cut&Paste founder John Fiorelli for a brief chat about the evolution of his brainchild, the biggest misconceptions about the profession, and the triumph of good design in a bad economy.

Stay tuned for more C&P updates in the coming weeks. San Francisco’s up next with an event on February 28. If you live in New York, click here for the deets on the tournament on March 21; Windy City folk will have to wait until April 4th.

Flavorwire: Can you tell us about the origins of Cut&Paste?

John Fiorelli: The idea was born from an interest in seeing what designers do, sharing it, and having a party around it. We didn’t expect it to catch on so strongly in New York City; that first time, more people came than we expected. During the ensuing weeks after our first event, we sensed the opportunity to take this to a broader audience and we’re thankful it’s worked out so far. Sixteen global cities and counting.

FW: Take us back to that first competition. Have you kept tabs on what those original eight winners are doing today? Did the crowd that first year immediately “get” what you were trying to do?

JF: Yes, we’re still in touch with most of our competitors over the last few years, including some of the original contestants. Many of them have shared stories of how they found new work, new clients, new friends from the competition and it’s refreshing — it’s why we do all this. In the first year, I think our audience was very surprised and absorbed in what the designers were doing on stage. Before the event, there were some questions like, “How much can anyone create in 15 minutes?” After the first event, designers learned the answer was, “A lot!!” and they tried out in the following years. This year, we’re finding people are asking the same question about creating a 3-D model in 20 minutes — which is something we’re introducing for the first time. They’ll find out.

FW: What do you think is the most common misconception about the design world? How do you think a competition like Cut&Paste remedies that?

JF: One misconception we see is how some clients treat designers as merely instruments in the creative process, when in fact they are primary actors. We think learning more about what designers do as part of their process — deliberation, research, experimentation, iteration and technique — would help clients be better collaborators while leading better projects.

We admit that Cut&Paste doesn’t share all of that creative process, but only a glimpse. We hope the audience derives an engaged passion in learning more and we hope the designer gains more exposure.

JF: Do you have any design world heroes? Who is the person who has influenced your career the most who we might not have heard of before?

I have to say that it’s really hard to choose among so many great designers in the field. Coming from a background in film, motion design and 3D are really fascinating to me. Sites like Motionographer and Core77 help me keep up with what’s new and current. There’s just so much great work being done today and it’s really inspiring.

FW: Even in this bad economy, we read about cool stuff happening in design every day. Where do you see the silver lining effect manifesting itself the most?

JF: We’re not fatalistic about the current economic situation, in spite of some signals pointing to more tough times ahead. Down economies challenge us to be more inventive and design in a more meaningful way. Conversely, strong economies can encourage complacency and cutting corners for cheap results or gratification. Even in producing Cut&Paste, we have to be pliable and fluid in how to make it all happen. We’ll take our licks, but we’ll adjust and do our best. Tough times make cream rise to the top and we welcome the opportunity to make the best of it.