September 17, 2010

No Boring Thoughts To Be Found Here!

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

Click on any image to Biggerify

Welcome friends and prepare yourselves for a fun trip down ‘south’! Today we’re leaving the grey dreariness of the European midlands and heading to the lovely northern parts of Italy, namely to Mauro Gatti’s self-professed ‘
House of Fun.

Certainly at first glance, you may not be able to decipher a particular ‘label’ for Mauro’s work or that of his different business ventures. Suffice to say, our guest is an illustrator and designer that loves to draw and put on paper any and all ideas that may be swimming through his head at any given moment. Believing that ‘a smile is the cheapest way to be happy’, this affable and very talented illustrator is continually trying to capture the comical side of life, turning it into a simple yet funny and memorable work for his audience.

Whether your tastes lean towards collectible toys with a difference, eclectic graphic arts that seem to fit both the large and small needs of the market, or straightforward yet clever offerings including advertising graphics and videos for some of the largest corporations out there, Mauro has seen and enjoyed creating it all. We were very fortunate to catch up with this talented young man, who juggles his time between his own creations (see also
his blog), his creative studio Mutado, founded in 2004 in Milan, and his latest venture into the world of toys, Very Bravo.


Hi Mauro! Benvenuti alla fiera! (gods, I hope GOOGLE translate is working!)

Grazie, Ziggy!

Mauro, just a quick question about where you and your team are located: Milan takes over as the center of the universe in terms of fashion design, often several times a year. But what is the local graphic design and illustration scene like in the Milan area or even throughout all of Italy?
There is a lot of talent in Italy, with very gifted illustrators that explore many different mediums, several of whom are really inspiring.

However, what is missing in Italy is a strong sense of community, even a virtual center where designers and/or illustrators can share their knowledge, or even inspire and support the next generations of artists. It seems to me there are many small groups of talents but these have no connections between them. This is a shame because I just feel that so much creative energy goes wasted.

One of the main reasons for this talent dispersion is that we don't have many art galleries in Italy that offer young talents a place to exhibit their works. And in comparison to the fashion shows you mentioned, there are only just a few happenings where creative people can meet and network with each other. Living in Milan or Rome, sure, its a little bit easier if you're looking for a chance to meet a talented illustrator in person; but if you live in a small town, the only option you have is to look for community web-sites that are set up typically outside of our national borders.

But despite this problem, I am glad to say that some of the best illustrators that I have on my radar are from Italy. I’m proud of this and I look forward to see what the future holds for this beautiful and full-of-talent country!

Well, we’ve seen from various interviews including your recent one with KoiKoiKoi about WHO this Mauro Gatti fellow is. But where do you ‘come from’ in terms of learning the craft of an artist-designer-illustrator? Were you educated in the arts?
No. I've never been to art school. All I know and all I'm able to do comes from my twisted mind that developed as a boy who spent all day playing video-games, reading comic books and watching cartoons. In fact, this may sound funny but I really always wanted to become a doctor!

Then, one marvellous day, my brother started a course to learn Microsoft Office ... and a computer made its appearance in our bedroom. Within two months, I was completely psyched to be working with this new "magic box" (meanwhile, my brother left the course and a few years later, I left the University). Since those days I have never stopped thinking that a computer is the perfect tool to shape my ideas into something that people can enjoy and have fun with. Plus, considering that my art skills are limited to drawing like a kid, it just really changed my life!

I think that over time, really from day to day, I began to truly realise how much I loved to draw and to daydream, to let my creativity run free. This only grew as I began to meet other creative and talented people. I shared the same hopes as them, that my drawings would make people smile – while at the same time trying to explain to my parents what I was going to do for a living! Now I hope that this Peter Pan syndrome will never disappear and I can continue to express my creative side for years and years to come.

Who do you consider your main influences? I see, for example, similarities with Heinz Edelmann’s more iconic works, especially his work on the Beatles’ ‘Yellow Submarine’. Are there then any special ‘schools’ or other influences you try to imitate at times?
’Iconic’ is the best definition of what I always try to achieve when I draw.

Besides Edelmann as you mention – whose work defined the 60’s pop culture aesthetic and shocked me the first time I watched ‘Yellow Submarine’ (like taking a trip without LSD) – I've been extremely inspired by the work of
Raymond Savignac, the Push Pin Graphic collective (in particular Seymour Chwast) and Ryohei Yanagihara. They all left a huge impact on the creative world and their work taught me that the message is as important as the style itself.

I know this is a design blog, but I am curious about your ‘business plan’ if you want to call it that. You are the founder along with your long-time pal Lorenzo of Mutado, which produces print, video, illustration and mobile works. You are obviously then also very interested in pushing your new toy venture. What ultimately is then the push for the Mutado business itself? Are these areas all related or are you like a corporation with different divisions and focus areas? Is that why you’ve ‘split out’ the toys into a new company?
At Mutado, we're a bunch of creative guys and girls with skills and passions that vary from web to illustration as well as motion and print design plus mobile applications. The Mutado business is entirely based on mixing up all these different things to create "contents" for every kind of media, trying to be as flexible and as up-to-date as possible. For example, currently Lorenzo and I are very involved in developing small funny games for iPad – along with probably half of the developers on the lands above sea! ^_^

The Very Bravo adventure (and the Milan-based Atom Plastic shop as well) started after a talk with my friend Piero, who is the owner of the Atom Plastic brand, where we decided to join our forces and enter the world of toy production. We are both vinyl toy collectors and really maniacs about the medium. This new venture makes us feel like kids in a candy shop – at least until we take a look at the bills (laughs).

I really enjoy the sort of free-flowing style many of your pieces have! When you yourself are drawing, do you start out with a clear plan of where you want to head with your illustration? Or do you basically start with a line that becomes a shape that becomes a person that becomes several people in a scene and so on?
When I start anything, I have no clue, no clear plan on where I'm going. I just have a blurry idea that needs to be shaped.

The next step is drawing until I see something good and that I like, then refining every single element that I pick out from various pages full of doodles. It's like using a chisel to sculpt a block of stone, where I’m just removing the excess ‘rock’ to reveal my original idea. Even after everything is digitalized and it’s finally inside my computer and close to being finished, I leave space for changes and additions. You never know when your creativity can come up with something new and exciting!

I also read that Nike Commercial you worked on after Italy won the last World Cup was completed in only 3 weeks! Do you work better under such incredible time pressure or would you prefer to take your time wherever possible?
Since I’m very good at procrastinating, a tight deadline is like a shot of adrenaline to my brain! I think that when you have just few days to create an illustration, you try to stay focused the whole time… otherwise you'll end up saying: "This is the last ‘Call of Duty’ game I’m playing, then I'll start thinking of something…" or "okay, I’ll watch just 1 more ‘The Big Bang Theory’ episode and then I'm on it…" or just I’ll just waste 6 hours following my favourite sellers’ pages on eBay (spending in advance the project budget).

ZN – for another great peak at Mauro working on the above piece, enjoy the following video:

RE-INVENT YOURSELF WITH NIKE AIR MAX 90 from mauro gatti on Vimeo.

Continued in
Part 2

No comments: