Questioning Creatives


This article was written on 26 Mar 2013, and is filled under illustrators.

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Sarah Mazzetti

I’m a 27-year old illustrator based in Bologna, Italy. I graduated in Illustration from IED in Milan in 2010, but before studying illustration I took a degree in Communication from Bologna University. Let’s say that I’ve been working only as a free-lance illustrator since 1 year or so, this means that I’m not looking for any part-time shop assistant-like job, or graphic design internship.

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When did you decide you wanted to be illustrator?
In Spring 2007. I was about to end my Communication studies, and I had to decide in which branch to specialize. In the beginning I wanted to go for Semiotics, or Socio-Political Studies, but then I realized that it was my last chance to start all over again and do something drawing-related. I was very confused at the time, but still I was sure it was the right choice. I’ve always drawn, it’s always been my favorite way to entertain myself, and I think I taught myself lots of important things with that daily playful practice, but I actually had no real ambition about that before 2007. What I mean is that I was not frustrated or anything for studying something different, I really enjoyed my University course, but thanking God at some point I changed my mind.

Would you recommend studying at art school?
I would totally recommend it. It bounds you to face the fact that illustration is a job, a beautiful one, but still you need to be able to shrink your ego (and when you’re very young you ego is so huge!) and meet somebody else’s needs. I get itchy when people speak about “creativity” correlated to “passion”, because they make it seem like something innate that comes from your stomach and doesn’t require much work. While I think that the most important thing you need to develop to do something truly creative is a thinking and trained head. Anyway, maybe you won’t have found “your style” at the end of your course, but you will start learning how to be professional and deeply committed to what you do, which is as important as designing great, fresh and powerful illustrations.

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How long was it before illustration became your primary form of income?
It took me more or less a couple of years after the end of my studies to make it quite stable.

Could you describe your typical day?
It’ s difficult to describe it, because it varies a lot, and I love not having a strict routine. However, I do have some habits: I wake up at around 9 am, unless it’s a super-busy period, in that case I will wake up earlier. I have breakfast and then I turn on my computer and check emails-facebook-news-random silly stuff…Then I start working. I prefer to get the drawing part of my work done by early afternoon, because I need to be very concentrated (I usually draw everything by hand, and then color in Photoshop). But well, again if it’s a busy period I will do whatever needed whenever I’m asked. I take short breaks during the day, and keep working until late, and I work at weekends most of the times. But I also take several days off if I need to and can, I go to fairs and festivals with my self-publishing label, I teach, and sometimes I have the chance to travel for work, so as I said, the pattern varies a lot. I would hate to do the kind of job in which you spend five days a week yearning for the weekend.

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What do you wish you’d know when you first started out?
Well, i wish I was a bit more aware of the financial aspects of my work, like how to do an estimate, and how much to ask for a certain job, but I think you learn those things with the experience, even though I’m still quite terrible at dealing with monetary aspects.

What’s the best thing about being an illustrator?
There are so many good aspects, I can’t tell you one, it’s just the best job in the world to me!

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What’s the worst thing about being an illustrator?
The up and downs, in your income but especially in your mood (but that depends a lot on your personalty).

If you weren’t an illustrator, what would you be?
I don’t know, I would have kept on studying humanistic disciplines and ended up being very confused at the end.

Any other tips you could share?
A very banal one: be courius!

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