ArtCenter: You co-founded Bésame with your wife Gabriela Hernandez (BFA 89 Photography) — how did that come about?
Fergus Hernandez (BFA 90 Photography) CFO/Co-founder, Bésame Cosmetics: We’ve worked together since meeting at ArtCenter in the late ‘80s — helping each other on projects, then starting our first photo studio business together after graduation. We’ve had to redirect our passion along the way and that’s how Bésame came about. Whatever the medium, our best successes have always been when we work together.
AC: You created some of Marvel Comics first color palettes — what was that like?
FH: I was working as a colorist, and since I had a strong background in color theory, I noticed some color inconsistencies between the different teams. Essentially, everyone would make their own version of Spider-Man. This was around the start Photoshop, so I built palettes everyone could use for the different characters.
For me, it was a joy; I was an avid comic book collector as a kid. But right around the age of 12, for whatever reason, my parents decided they weren’t good for me and threw them out. So it was wonderful payback from the universe to create color palettes for Marvel superheroes.
AC: You worked on some of the last 2D animated films for Disney — what was that like?
FH: Interestingly, I was the first male color stylist for Disney Feature Animation; we created the color palettes that would paint an entire scene in a film. I had the joy of working under Roy Disney on Fantasia 2000 for three years, then Atlantis and Treasure Planet before the industry would change over to 3D. Each project took three to three-and-a-half years; once you’ve been on that side you can’t watch animation in the same way again — you can’t unsee the cuts. I left after the birth of our daughter to work again with Gabriela, just four months before the entire 2D crew was let go.
Around age 12, my parents decided [comics] weren't good for me and threw them out. So it was wonderful payback from the universe to create color palettes for Marvel superheroes.Fergus Hernandez
AC: How do you define success?
FH: Freedom to do the things you enjoy.
AC: Do you have any superstitions?
FH: No, the harder we work the luckier we are.
AC: If you could trade jobs with anyone for a day who would it be?
FH: Mark Cuban or Warren Buffett. I’m curious to see at what scale they operate — that would be fascinating and insightful.
AC: What’s the one tool you can’t do without?
FH: A pad of paper and pencil — it’s the only way to get ideas out quickly.
AC: What book is on your bedside table?
FH: I always read Shopology; I’m fascinated by marketing and the psychology that creates enthusiasm for people.
AC: Where do you go (online or offline) when you’re taking a break?
FH: DC and CW apps — I’m still very much a comic book and animation fan.
AC: What do you do to detox from media and screens?
AC: Describe a moment in your childhood when you first identified as a designer.
FH: I’d blazed through every assignment in my middle school graphic arts class, and my teacher Mr. Frances didn’t know what else to do with me. No one was using the dark room, so he suggested I take pictures. That was the turning point; it opened up a whole other world.
AC: If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
FH: That’s tricky because I’ve done a lot of research on that. It’d be great to fly, but unless you’re invincible, it could go badly. I’ll go with telekinetic, to move things with my mind.
AC: What’s your most irrational or rational fear?
FH: Fear of failure, for both. I’ve read it’s what keeps entrepreneurs on the right track. But it’s about balance. It can be a positive motivator if it doesn’t turn toxic. It’s a necessary evil.
AC: Where is your happy place?
FH: With Gabriela and the kids, anything with them is happy. My No. 2 is how we affect our customers. I read every single review and piece of feedback; hearing what customers appreciate is hard to put a price on — that’s what gets me up every day.
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AC: How would your closest friend describe you?
FH: Patient. Kind. I would hope they’d say funny, optimistic.
AC: What’s your best piece of advice for an ArtCenter student who’s interested in following your career path?
FH: Enjoy roller coasters. Make a lot of friends; they may help you or you may help them. Remember, it’s about passion and keeping the passion alive, even as the medium changes and inevitably it will. It’s a journey, so perspective will change with every mile. When an airplane flies from L.A. to New York, it’s never a straight line; you must make thousands of changes along the way to ever arrive.