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People to Watch in 2011 BACK FORWARD

Walter Porras
walter porras

SENIOR DIRECTOR FOR MARKETING CREATIVE, WALMART

I was born in Lima, Peru in 1966. As a child I suffered from severe asthma and was unable to play and be as active as all the other kids. From very young, I spent most of my time in the house and my mother sought things to keep me entertained. Everything changed when she brought me color pencils, water colors, markers and a box of Crayola’s. This was the start of finding myself. Instantly, I was fascinated with color. Living in Peru where everything is shades of grey, all I wanted was to be surrounded by bright colors. The simple gift from my mother made me forget what I was missing.

As early as elementary school, I grew fascinated with history books. Not because of the history, but by the pictures and simple layouts of the books. When I was lucky enough to visit Disney World for the first time, I found myself mesmerized by the brochures and advertising that surrounded me. If it was free, I took it. No stuffed animals or t-shirts. My suitcase was full of brochures. From then on I was obsessed with magazines, layouts, billboards, and even fabrics. I looked forward to school ending because each summer I was able to attend a fine arts camp. Through high school, too, I lived and breathed all things art. I knew that I loved Graphic Design, but I never thought one could have a career in the field. I just assumed you were a fine artist or nothing. In my family and in my culture, the expectation was that you finished high school and went to university to be something with a stable income, an engineer, a lawyer, a doctor. The only person I knew who was a “fine artist” was a cousin who had no money and lived with his parents. My father was sure the same would happen for me. He wanted me to study Computer Science in the US and enrolled me in a school in Florida. I moved to Miami to start school and after a couple of months, I learned that Graphic Design was in fact a career. It was all around me. The colors of Miami, the 80s influences, and Art Deco architecture were everywhere. I needed to make a decision. I quit computer science school, returned to Peru and enrolled in the Fine Arts Institute. I learned so much in art school but still struggled with my father’s disapproval. To him, I was making the decision to follow in my cousin’s footsteps.

After finishing in the top of my class and getting a first job in the art department at a large supermarket chain in Peru, I eventually craved more challenge and moved back to Miami with no job and no family support. What I did have was a dream and the drive and determination to achieve it. Eventually, I found myself freelancing for Office Depot; after six months, they hired me full-time as a designer. That’s where my career really started to take off.

From one position to the next, I was promoted to Global Creative Director. For 11 years, I worked hard to build and support the brand that is Office Depot. Next, I had the opportunity to work for Macy’s, and then, one day a recruiter called asking if I’d be interested in working for one of the world’s largest retailers. Little did I know that less than four months later I would relocate to Bentonville AR to work for Walmart, where I’ve been for three years now. As Senior Director for Marketing Creative I feel I’ve helped elevate the look and feel of the Walmart brand.

People ask me all the time, why I moved from sunny Florida to Arkansas. It’s always been about the challenge and about loving what I do. My passion since I was a little boy in Peru, with the Crayolas, has always been art and design. That’s what makes me happy, whether it be Florida or Arkansas.

Where were you born, where do you live, did this effect your design style or sensibilities?
I was born in Lima and live in Arkansas. But it was Miami where my eyes were opened.

If you were not a designer, what would you do?
Architect or fashion designer.

What advice would you give a design student or young professional just starting out?
Do what’s in your heart. Sometimes, a lot of times, you’ll have to make design compromises. Dream big and be willing to stand behind your designs. You should feel like every design you do is priceless.

Design Hero?
Architect or fashion designer.
Favorite Color?
Orange
Favorite Typeface?
Helvetica
Favorite App?
Angry Birds
Favorite TV Shows?
Charlie’s Angels, Project Runway, Flipping out, Glee & Oz.
Favorite Books?
Mario Vargas Llosa “La ciudad y los perros”, “Pantaleon y las Visitadoras, Irving Penn Photography “Still Life”, Vanity Fair Portraits
Favorite Movies?
Coco Before Chanel, Casablanca, Love Actually, Broken Embraces, The secret in their eyes, Never been kissed
Favorite Music?
Antonio Carlos Jobim, Carly Simon, Julie Freundt, Madonna, Edith Piaf, Pet Shop Boys, Eros Ramazzotti, Rosario, Lily Allen, Florence and the Machine
Favorite Fine Artists?
Peter Max, Jeff Koons
Favorite Gadget?
My camera
Bookmarked Websites?
trendnista.com, printpattern.blogspot.com, starck.com
Worst Habit?
Workaholic
New Year’s Resolution?
Spend more time with my parents

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