I graduated in illustration from the “Istituto Europeo del Design” in 2000. I received my first assignment in 2001, but turned the corner only in 2005, when I finally matured my style into “Shout” which is the name I use to work with today. At the very beginning I was just Alessandro Gottardo, I was represented by Threeinabox, a Canadian agency; in 2003 I put all my experimental styles in the website www.ice9studio.com, all the stuff in there is mine. My first nickname was Sashimi, the second was Ice9, the third Shout. In 2006 I left the agency and I started to look for my clients on my own. Little by little I’m currently going back to using my real name.
How did you put together your portfolio and did you select your work based on the markets, subject matter or style?
At the beginning I never thought about a specific client when working, I would simply illustrate. However, when in 2005 I understood that the most important thing was the concept, not the style, everything became much easier. Art diretcors are always looking for a good idea. All kinds of art directors: for advertising, editorial, design, animation, book covers…all of these markets are constantly looking for a good idea. If you have good attitude to translate ideas into images just do it, don’t think too much about the style, your own style will come soon or later. My mentor Guido Scarabottolo says “Draw with your head, not with your hand.”
Who would you consider to be your influences?
Italians master artists: Painters: Mario Sironi, De Chirico Illustrators: Guido Scarabottolo, Beppe Giacobbe, Lorenzo Mattotti, Gianluigi Toccafondo, Franco Matticchio
International master artists: Painters: Pablo Picasso, Mark /Rothko/, Edward Munch, Egon Schiele, Toulouse Lautrec, Kazemir Malevic, Illustrators: Brad Holland, Mark Ulriksen, Craig Frazier, Christoph Niemann
Contemporary artists/illustrators I like best now are: Brian Rea, Josh Cochran, Silas Neals, Chris Buzelli, Yuko Shimizu, Edel Rodriguez, Amy Bennett, Water Martin and Paloma Munoz, Weesley Willis, Slinkachu, Marcel Dzama and many others
What were the most difficult aspects of illustration in school, after graduation at the start of your career and now?
In school everything was easy…when you are young you don’t need a salary! After graduating the hardest thing was establishing myself as an illustrator, as in Italy this job is pretty unknown. I had to find my own market abroad, by using the Internet, it was very hard: I used to consider myself an artist and it was frustrating to think I was expressing myself and then the art director asked me for changes. I then started considering myself a commercial artist, I understood that my work was commissioned, that the art director needed something from me, and at that point everything became much easier. Accepting the fact I wasn’t an “artist” was probably the most difficult aspect.
What do you thing of the current trends in illustration and where do you think this field is heading to?
I’m an optimist, I think that the borders between fine art and illustration are shrinking. People all around the world are looking at the field of illustration with more attention. Illustrators cost less than a photographer because a photographer needs assistants, tools, a set, etc.. Now that the economy is so bad I think illustrators can repreent a good resource for every market.
Describe your process from getting contacted by a client to finishing the project.
1. sketches stage: pencil on paper. A bunch of quick drawings on paper, I often write often key words beside the drawings. I look for a connection between the main headlines of the article and the concept of the article. I do a lot of photo research with google. 2. final color version after sketch approval: I work in digital using corel painter. 3. textures: I add them using photoshop. 4. project (sketches+final) alway sent to the client before final deadline
What do you think the best tools are to promoting yourself as an illustrator? Are book portfolios still in demand?
The internet is the best tool, therefore a web portfolio is the best solution. Look for clients using the internet is best too, show yourself on the net using every kind of tools you have there.
What advice would you give to an illustration student?
Believe in yourself always, especially when nobody does! Think yourself as a pro and not like a bohemien artist. Trust the art directors, don’ t be scared to show your raw art: your limit as a student is not the quality of your visual language but the fear of it being judged by others. Your market is the entire World, not only the city or your country you live in. Do what you like and not what other people like. Be hard with yourself, be an optimist always.
What is the most difficult part of being and illustrator and what is the most rewarding?
The most difficult thing is juggling different assignments at the same time (I am currently working on 8 projects for a total of 17 illustrations to be done in a week!) This may happen often! The most rewarding thing is completing all assignments in advance with clients happy with the final result!