“Great ideas are not born in isolation, but they emerge out of discussion, comparison and evaluation in the real world”
What made you decide that Art was your calling? Tell us about your journey from being a student of Art to being a successful Graphic Designer today.
I was born into a family of artists. I have been breathing art ever since I was a little child. I didn’t need to decide what school would suit me, it was obvious to everyone, including me. I was extremely good at visualizing concepts and communicating them. I felt that Art School would help me hone this talent.
After Art School, I moved to the Politecnico of Milan where I completed my Degree in Industrial Design and soon after my Masters in Communication Design.
I worked for many years as a graphic designer for other companies before starting my own agency, Until Sunday, in 2012.
What kind of formal training have you undertaken and how important you feel international exposure is for a student?
I moved from a small city in Sicily to the capital of design, Milan.
The Politecnico of Milan introduced me to a whole new world and my love for design grew year by year.
While studying I was also working at design agencies (Milan was extremely expensive for my family and I had to work while studying). In this way I was able to put what I learnt at the university into practice. I was sad that I couldn’t live carefree like all the other students, but today I am glad I that I had the opportunity to learn the secrets of my job ahead of time, while studying.
One of the most important experiences I had from my life as a student was the year I spent as an Erasmus student at the Brunel University in London.
I had the chance to meet people from different countries and to learn new ways to approach the design world. English Universities are extremely practical. During my year at Brunel I spent more time creating prototypes than studying and reading books. It was there that I learnt to work with graphic design programmes like Illustrator and Photoshop.
Besides, London was and still is an amazing city to live in, full of inspiration and museums.
How would you describe your personal style? Also, how is your workflow pattern or your approach towards a project?
When I started my studies in design, my dream was to design toys and books for children. I think this heavily influenced my very colourful and playful style and the way we work at Until Sunday.
The most successful projects are the ones done in strict collaboration with our clients.
At Until Sunday we develop our projects following the three-act structure that Aristotle came up with over two thousand years ago: beginning, middle, and end.
Right from the start we introduce our customers to the setting. We identify the main protagonists, the factors and the conflicts inside any given context. After this brief but accurate analysis of the situation, we move into developing the plot. Together with our clients we work to overcome conflicts and find authentic solutions. We analyse all the elements, how they act and interact; we then build a unique relationship between them.
The last part is the end: at this point we need to put all the elements together, making sure all problems are solved and questions are answered.
We have found this process really handy as it helps our clients come along on the creative ride. What is more, our customers are able to process this information, appropriate the new processes and elements and weave them into their strategies without any hesitation.
Which has been your most memorable piece of art that you have created? Can you give us a brief description about it?
Difficult to say: I love them all!
I think one of my favourites right now is the design we did for MoR passports.
MoR is a small toy company based in Norway that creates stuffed toys based on children drawings.
Until Sunday designed the brand a few years ago endowing it with a colorful and cheerful personality. In the last two years, the company has successfully expanded its business, adding new services, like the online shop and joint charity initiatives for children with cancer.
Lene, founder of MoR, had an idea: to create a birth certificate that would not only authenticate that the toy is part of the family, but that would also work as MoR’s guarantee of quality.
Our design of MoR’s passport draws inspiration from the new Norwegian passport. We illustrated the inside pages with three animals that are commonly found in Norway ( the bear, the deer and the fox) in their natural habitats.
MoR’s passport is larger so that children can unleash their creativity in its spacious pages.
We took into account the importance of tactile experience for children, so we created an embossed cover using MoR’s dot pattern. We love details so the cover boasts gold letterpress symbols that add a precious and official touch to the little booklet.
What tools do you use in your work? What do you prefer, hand sketching or digital work?
Both. I usually sketch my ideas on paper, adding lot of colours, funny elements and notes. Then I move the drawings to my computer and start to digitalize the final idea.
I like the freedom that sketching gives me. I call it “brainstorming by hand”. But I also love the precision of using the computer, the attention I can give to details, almost impossible to achieve using only pencil and paper.
Among various artists, who have been your most important influencers?
I think it depends a lot on the kind of project I am working on.
When I design websites, I like to look at the clean, consistent and harmonious layout of the Swiss International Style, represented by artists such as Karl Gerstner, Joseph Müller-Brockmann and Max Bill.
When my design requires a more provocative and out of the box approach, I look at Piet Zwart’s distinct style: strong diagonals, use of primary colours, use of different sizes of typeface, and rejection of the conventional symmetry around a fixed central axis.
Finally, when I need to create beautiful illustrations, my inspiration is the album cover art by Alex Steinweiss.
What challenges do you feel an artist has to face on the job front?
Understanding the request and mindset of the client can be a really laborious task.
Most of the time, the brief looks more like a “wish list”.
Intuition and experience is what teaches you how to discern what it is really important for the success of a project and what should be left out.
It is extremely important to guide your customers during this process and educate them in a sense, explaining every point of connection and every crossroads along the way. In this way you can work together to create an interesting, memorable and coherent project that grabs the attention of the final user.
Have you come across Indian art or any Indian artist that you were impressed with?
I cannot say that a name comes to mind. But now that you asked me, I would love it if some of our readers can suggest an artist.
I do love a lot Indian literature; one of my favourite books is The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy.
I am also fascinated by your writing and language. I have Indian friends and I wish I could turn their handwriting into a nice typeface to use in my work.
What message do you have in mind for the aspiring artists?
Be brave. Be passionate.
There are so many people out there that claim to be designers like you, but it is the love, the quality and the determination you put into your work that will make the difference in the end.
Do not spend hours in front of your computer, but live like a designer: get connected to other designers, share your experience and your knowledge, surround yourself with inspiring and inspired people, even those older than you. Find challenges and face them without fear.
Great ideas are not born in isolation, but they emerge out of discussion, comparison and evaluation in the real world.
Your creativity will be enriched and you will learn how to look at things from a different perspective.