Sonia Lamba

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You might say Sonia Lamba has some major cojones. That's pretty much what the 29-year-old designer needed to get where she is today, heading up the creative at L.A.-based motion design and editorial shop Goodspot. For one, when the U.K. native was applying to college in the early '90s, instead of choosing the obvious path paved by her family of doctors and lawyers, she took a chance at the prestigious London College of Printing, even though she was more a math brainiac than an artist. In fact, she had never really heard of the school and had no idea what graphic design was all about when she applied. After graduation, she pulled another fatefully clueless and cavalier move. Flipping through a weekly trade pub, she read an unnerving story about the scarcity of female designers in the industry. "This article absolutely riled me," she recalls. "It was saying, 'Why is it that when 50 percent of courses in the field are taken by women, only 5 percent of the workforce is female?' And in it this guy called Simon Needham, who was one of the founding partners at a company called Attik, which I'd never heard about before, was slagging off girls, basically saying they go off to be producers and do quilt design and this and that, and no one actually becomes a graphic designer. I was fuming so much that I called Needham and basically had a go at him on the phone. I said, 'You have no idea! There are some of us girls who have worked really hard and we are out here.' So he asked me in for an interview the next day."

The gutsy stunt, plus her creative skills, landed her a junior designer post at what unbeknownst to her was one of the most renowned print design firms in the U.K. "It was definitely a man's world," she says of being Attik's only woman designer for almost five years. Nevertheless, she went on to become the firm's first female creative director and even helped to branch the company (which at first worked exclusively in print) into motion design when she helped to launch a New York outpost in 1997. At both Attik's London and New York offices, Lamba oversaw network branding packages for the BBC, British Telecom TV and Bravo England, and collaborated with advertising agencies like TBWA/Chiat/Day, Grey and Saatchi & Saatchi. After seven years at Attik, last year Lamba pulled another ballsy move and relocated to Goodspot in Los Angeles, joining managing director and founder Richard Kaufman. "I am so completely opposite to what a California person should be like," she admits, "but I was up for a challenge and I wanted to do something new." Now overseeing a staff of 12, split into separate editorial and design divisions, Lamba's excited because the smaller outfit brings her back to the creative front line. An architectural vibe resonates in much of Lamba's Goodspot work, which includes a Lexus car show installation and a conference presentation for ABC Cable networks. There's also a graphically crisp opener for Nike's 2002 global conference presentation that pulls the famous swoosh logo from various media placements, like Friends episodes and Britney Spears performances. And in what seems like an out-of-nowhere turn from Lamba's admittedly hard-angled style, she recently brought the look of traditional Chinese painting to motion in a branding project for CCTV, one of the first government-sponsored cable channels to launch in China.

Another plus is the company's history of cinema projects, which was a new challenge for her. Lamba's Hollywood debut came in the form of a whimsical opener for the upcoming indie flick Cheaters. Playing off the film's "cheating" theme, the title flirts with the audience's notions of the 3-D world, taking place in a diorama of what seem like full-bodied images, which turn out to be flat as a pancake when the camera zooms around behind them. "The title itself is something of a cheat," she notes, revealing that, in fact, there was no camera work or live action involved. The entire title sequence was created using a combination of stock and Illustrator elements, pieced together in After Effects. The project was in line with Lamba's preferred style. "I like playing with the fact that you have a flat screen, which doesn't mean you can't have depth. I think that comes from being restricted to 2-D and print for so long. Now I can put an element on the screen and I can actually rotate around it 360 degrees," she exults.

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