Leo Natsume: The designer
of many faces

04.05.2019  |  Share  —  Twitter   Facebook   Copy link

Leonardo Azevedo (aka Leo Natsume) is a talented visual designer with focus on Digital Design - UI/UX, interaction design and mainly illustration, currently working at Grupo RBS, based in Porto Alegre/Brazil. He has won several prizes and gained international recognition. Leo is working as a freelancer and has worked for and collaborated on projects with companies like Google, Uber, Twitter, Nike, Disney, Coca-Cola or The New York Times.

What led you into your current career path?
Choosing design as a profession was not a difficult task for me. I started drawing from the age of five, and designing ideas on paper is something I do naturally until this day. I've always enjoyed designing projects and the creative approach behind it, keeping it useful and important to people.
I studied Graphic Design at UFPEL - a University in Southern Brazil - where I acquired a lot of knowledge about art history, and learned many different techniques of design application, as well as management and marketing classes.
After my studies, I entered the job market, more specifically in the Grupo RBS company. Since then my career has grown a lot, reaching international scale, and allowing me to work with big brands.

How do you keep in touch with the creative world and community and how does the creative scene look like in your city? 
I really like Behance. I am currently the Brazilian with the highest number of followers and appreciations in the world, besides having received 68 features on the platform. So I have a lot of contact with other users, and it is also the place where I look for new inspiration in different areas like fashion, interaction design, advertising and graphic design. Behance has a curatorial team that filters the best jobs in different fields, which helps me find the best results and references. 

Dribbble is also a great platform for contacts, mainly to be hired for new jobs and projects for digital products. You can exchange ideas with other members and also seek references of what is being done in the digital world.
I do not like Instagram so much, and so I only browse the app very little.

How does the creative scene look like in your city?
Unfortunately the government in Brazil has not invested in the creative area and has made several investment cuts in the areas of arts, film and music, which makes me very sad. The cultural part of the country is getting forgotten.

But on the other hand, we have great artists and great studios here in Porto Alegre. The guys at Valkyria Inteligência Criativa make incredible product design and they manage to bring the culture of design to the company and projects.

Another great studio is Sweet Co. which also works in the area of packaging design and has works known internationally and collected many awards. We also have many advertising agencies that work with local markets in the region, and also some animation studios like the Alopra Estúdio, which produces many animations for Canada.

Illustration for Mercedes-benz commercial video

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3D Illustration for Google


Leo Natsume 

What creative(s) do you admire for their work? Have you collaborated or thought of collaborating with other like-minds?
As for inspiration, I appreciate Malika Favre's minimalist work as well as design and animation studios such as Golden Wolf, Le Cube and Buck. I would love to collaborate one day with these studios as they combine creativity together with great concepts in each of their projects in an incredible way.

What’s your favorite hack to get work done?
My favorite hack is listening to very fast Pop Punk songs! This genre inspires me and provides me with the energy needed to awaken my creativity to the fullest, and try to go beyond the limit in every project. So music is my main "emo"tional hack.

What are your 5 favorite work tools/apps and how do use them?
1. Adobe Photoshop
It is the tool that I use most often. I use it to sketch my ideas and also finalize most of my illustrations. Photoshop is just great, you know!

2. Adobe Illustrator
Illustrator is amazing and makes a great bridge between PS and AE. I use Illustrator very often, mainly to make illustrations for interface design.

3. After Effects
I work a lot with motion design. AE is a great tool to make experimentations with interactions, micro-interactions and even simulate some effects you need, to present to the front-end developer for specific web projects.

4. Sketch app
Perfect for interface design and prototyping. 

5. Blender 3d
I started with Blender 3D some while ago, replacing Cinema 4D and Octane (it seems like a lot of designers are using this combo!). Blender 2.8 surprised me with its quality of interface and simplicity in the commands. I also like Cycles being a great renderer, and also the EEVEE rendering in real time. And best of all: it's free.

Walk us through your workspace setup 
My setup is all Apple. I love sophisticated, minimalist equipment, and Apple brings this atmosphere to my setup. I work with a 21.5 "Imac, which is where I work most of the time - both for illustration, design and 3D!
I have a 13 "2018 Macbook - which I use most for traveling. I have an iPhone 6s to do interfaces prototype testing! You must be wondering: an iPhone 6s? But here in Brazil iPhones are one of the most expensive in the world! So it is not possible to change your mobile phone every year.
As for the tablet, I use an iPad Pro. Here's an important detail: I do not use the Procreate app as most people work on the iPad. I have chosen to use an Astropad app, which replicates the screen of my Mac computer, so I can work with all Adobe software, sketch app, and all the others. It's like a Cintiq feeling, but portable. It is wonderful!

…And of course I like to listen to music using my Airpods!

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Working - in- progress on my iPad pro illustration for Google.
I worked with Blender 3d to modeling and render the scene.


My main setup: Working with my iPad pro.

What creative or non-creative challenges do you face at work?
Dealing with short deadlines is the biggest challenge, for sure. This happens to most of the designers out there, I believe, mainly with advertising materials. Sometimes the project is incredible, and you have to dedicate hours and extra hours each day to make the work well done and with the necessary quality.

What projects are you most proud of and excited about? Are there any side-projects you work or worked on? 
Basically all the projects I have in my portfolio I'm proud of. They were committed with a lot of dedication and they mean a lot to me at the time they were made.
A recent project that I am very proud of were illustrations from the Uber Review 2018, in which the characters should not belong to a specific genre, and I would approach all users. The illustrations had a reach of 700 million users! It was amazing!

I also made a personal project based on the Vans brand, with some characters and portraits of the new generation of people who enjoy radical sports, opening space to discuss the new tone of voice of the brand.

In my spare time, I work a lot with freelance parallel projects for other brands like Google, Uber, Nike, Disney, Mercedes-Benz, among others. My services range from Digital Product Design to illustration in advertising.

These side-projects bring me great satisfaction, especially knowing that my work is reaching many people and I am receiving a lot of recognition for this! I meet people from different countries, with proposals of very different jobs culturally. This provides me with a lot of knowledge!

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Illustration for McDonalds Canada, about special treatment cancer for childrens

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Uber users year review illustration

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Illustration about Apple for Estadão 

What’s your passion or habit after work?
My passion is to study and discover new tools and ways to enhance my design. For relaxing, I like to go outdoors to skate with my girlfriend, always listening to music! New music inspires me a lot. My favorite kind of music genre is Pop Punk.
On weekends, I like to play video games on my PS4. I usually play action and adventure games, and my favorite at the moment is Final Fantasy 15 and Detroid Became Human!

What does a typical day look like? 
A typical day for me is with a lot of design work involved. When I'm not working, I look for references and set goals and objectives where I want to go with my work - both for illustration and for design. It is important that you absorb different content, whether by reading different books, or by searching for products that you would like to improve, such as case study itself. At times you will encounted briefings similar to what you were researching in the past, and you will already be prepared for this situation.
On average I work on 2 to 3 different projects in parallel, so I have to be precise in task managment and have to ensure delivery of all the work in the given terms to my clients.


8 a.m - at the gym near my house. I really love to exercise and go for a run at the gym.


10 a.m - one of the streets on the way to work. I live a 5 min walk away from my full time job at Grupo RBS.


10:05 a.m company entry.


Time to get some work done!


2 p.m - Time for lunch at the company's restaurant.


9 p.m - At night, when I get home after a full-time work I continue to work on freelance projects, on my iPad pro!


9 p.m - At night, when I get home after a full-time work I continue to work on freelance projects, on my iPad pro!


Vans concept design and illustration


Interactive website Chatheroes that we made for GZH. The users can talk with superheroes in a chat experience.

Any advice for ambitious creatives starting out?
For ambitious creatives who are just getting started: look for inspiration, get out of your comfort zone and research different subjects in the area! Another important point is to make an inner discovery of yourself, understanding your tastes and attitudes better! Many designers today do user research and more user research to understand different profiles, but do not end up looking at their own inner-self.
This greatly influences the creation of the personality in the design work of each one.

Anything you want to promote or plug?
Taking advantage of this space to promote, I would like to promote my handles:
Instagram: www.instagram.com/leonatsume/
Dribbble: www.dribbble.com/leonatsume
Behance: www.behance.net/leonatsume

All images shot by: Camila Raposa

"If you never try, you'll
never know.

Quote by Leo Natsume