September 17, 2010

No Boring Thoughts To Be Found Here!

An Interview with Designer Mauro Gatti
Part 2 of 2 (link to Part 1)

Click on any image to enlargementize

Mauro, you include lots of positive messages in many of your web offerings and other writings or interviews even. Why do you consider yourself such an optimistic and positive person?
I'm just happy to be doing what I'm doing. And I can't think of any other way of working than looking at everything I do through an optimistic lens. I am quite cynical – or perhaps better said, I am a realist – when it comes to politics. But I have only good words to say about creativity!

How did your fascination with the world of toys begin?

In 2001, thanks to the pioneer artist James Jarvis and the clothing brand Silas, I stumbled upon this incredible phenomenon of toys made of vinyl. Years later my friend Piero (the founder of Atom Plastic) started to feed my new addiction. I'm now the proud "daddy" of toy after toy, as well as many beautiful objets d'art! I'm pretty satisfied when I look at my collection!

Toy sales must be though an extremely difficult field to get into, no? Despite being obviously a multi-billion EURO business throughout the world, how do you see your more ‘eclectic’ toys fitting in with say the likes of Barbie or others?
I've always been a fan of the "limited edition" concept, especially when it comes to collectible toys. So definitely, ‘mainstream’, mass-produced toys are not what I'd like to see inside Very Bravo.

Your first toys that have been released feature two rather interesting ‘characters’ namely a seemingly street-wise version of Death called ‘The Ghetto Reaper’ (with or without gold tooth included) and also a vegetarian executioner called ‘The Carrots Slayer’ (with your choice of two different hood and pants combos), who we should also point out comes with a little chopped carrot friend as well.
‘The Slayer’ and ‘the Reaper’ are our first experiments in toy production. We still have a lot to learn but I'll always choose to invest more in quality than in profits. And I think that being a toy collector changes the way you see a toy: you are very meticulous about details and when you produce something it must fit your (high) standards.

At this point in our ‘business plan’ at Very Bravo, we're not trying to make a fast profit; instead, we're trying to give life to a product (and a brand) that can inspire people and be considered as good as some of the other brands that we love and respect.

Why start with something like these fellows that some might consider a bit, I don’t know, morbid?
Because my mind is morbid ^_^ – and because Very Bravo was born out of a very simple concept: bring a bit of humour to people. And my sense of humour is often associated with topics that go from sex to death.

That's why you see a smiling Death giving the ‘OKAY’ sign. I think this is the perfect icon for Very Bravo, where a vegetarian Slayer can be the perfect representation of our own mix of blood-fun-violence-cuteness.

Is getting your work ‘out there’ through primarily toy production your main goal now or again do different aspects of your design business aim for different end-use markets?
My main goal now is to keep on working on ideas and see how they can be applied to different mediums or products. For example, I'm really fascinated about the possibilities offered from the iPhone and iPad!

What would be your advice to a young student interested in not only design but especially toy design? How would you suggest that someone start and develop their career?
Build and share your own portfolio! Create some custom toys, get to know the toy design scene and brands, and send ideas and drawings to companies open to receiving input from new artists. Clearly, it's not easy to produce a toy; but if the idea is good, I'm sure that the big names in the toy business will be interested in it!

If you had to choose one area of all your different specialities – graphic design, illustration, video, toy design, etc. – to focus on today, what would it be?
100% illustration.

Also in terms of your business approach, when you get for example an assignment for Nike, MTV or Disney vs. say a somewhat smaller or more local account, how do you tackle such a task? Is there more pressure on something like the Nike account or do you have similar freedom to create with either type of assignment
I am very happy to say that I've been lucky enough to work on projects with a very high level of creative freedom. Sure, working for a big company like Nike adds more pressure on you; but in the end, all you have to do is breath, relax and do what you love to do.

One of my mentors once told me to put the same energy in every project or assignment, whether you’re creating a flyer for a small brand or on a big commission for a famous brand, or even if you’re working with a big budget or just for a proverbial pat on the back.

I love your opening ‘greeting’ on your web-site, namely ‘Welcome, Stranger. While You Are In My Territory No Boring Thoughts Will Fill Your Head’. Why is this attitude important to you?
Because the only target that everything I create has is to make people smile (and think).

Now you’ve seen your works in print and television ads, on tee-shirts, posters, toys and much much more. What is a medium you have NOT yet used that you’d like to either explore as a designer or to especially see your work displayed on?
Sorry to say it again (seems like I've been paid by Steve Jobs) but the iPhone/iPad is the medium showing up right now on my radar! ^_^

How does Mutado manage to remain in today’s market – in your own words – ‘a no bullshit company that keeps things simple’? Do you find it harder to keep things simple than losing yourselves in the work and winding up with something much more complicated that it has to be?
Keeping things simple is the mantra I always repeat to myself. The target for Mutado is not to grow it into a big "we-can-do-everything" company but to focus mainly on character design, animation and everything that revolves around entertainment.

I think that if you stick to your original plan and don't lose yourself in all the smoke and mirrors of the market, sooner or later you'll see the results you want!

What happened to ‘The Brainbox’? I’m just curious, that was such a great web-site name!
I know! I loved it and it took me a while to decide to drop it. But after so many years spent under the "thebrainbox" nickname I decided it was about time to use my real name. And my surname is pretty fun, too! Gatti means Cats in English… which earned me a lot of teasing back in my school days!! For 3 years my school mates used to say Miao (the cat sound = Meow) instead of Ciao!

What’s something that you would like everyone to remember from this interview about you and your work?
Life's too short to work the wrong job, to listen to boring music, to go on diets, drink bad wine and be unhappy. Oh, and a pug will change your life!

What’s next for Mauro Gatti, Mutado, your toys and more?
I'm thinking of moving for some months to Berlin. I love it there and I'm looking forward to making some new connections and having a world of new experiences.

Very Bravo is out and we're anxious to see how people react. So far, I’m pleasantly surprised by the nice comments we're getting!

Plus, Mutado is moving into version 2.0 so expect more and more good stuff in the future! In terms of myself, well, I’m always trying to find as much time as I can to focus on illustration, develop a better style and sharpen my humour and ideas. I'm open to new collaborations and adventures, so if someone is looking for an Italian touch, don't hesitate to ring my bell!


It is hard to add more about Mauro’s work than what can be enjoyed with a relaxing jaunt through the lands of his creative ventures. In addition to the ‘professional’ sites mentioned earlier, enjoy as well his Flickr Photostream, including some adorable pictures of his ‘friends’ Ozzy and Nena (excuse me, my ‘co-editors’ are looking over my shoulder: yes kids, they ARE cute, but no, we are NOT getting a dog!!), his toys from Very Bravo, new projects in the pipeline, illustrations galore and a whole lot more!!

And while you’re enjoying this, we can highly recommend you also pour yourself some fine Italian wine, maybe put on your KISS Greatest Hits CD, and even check out some vintage Playboy magazines. Heck, in his own words, just enjoy every funny thing you come across!

Mauro Gatti’s works appear on and/or in just about every medium imaginable, including
videos, tee-shirts, toys, album covers, snow boards, greeting cards, posters and so much more. He has worked with a wide range of clients, including Disney, MTV, Nike, AKQA, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, Paramount Comedy, JibJab, 55DSL, Diesel, Combo, BlackHole, and Computer Arts, among others. He has given lectures and presentations around the world, including for BD4D (‘By Designers For Designers’) in London and Tel Aviv, 2 MadInSpain conferences, and more throughout the Western world, including Canada, too. He has also been published in a number of journals and collections, and is featured in the most recent release of ‘Go Font Ur Self, a very popular exhibition of type-based artworks.


All pictures, videos and other media are used with written permission of Mauro Gatti or are available in the public domain (noting copyright and other restrictions, accordingly). No further reproduction or duplication is permitted without contacting the artist directly.

Some pictures have been modified slightly or combined only for the purpose of space limitations.

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