Stefano Marra shares how he followed his artistic passion and evolved his career aspirations along the way.
I was born in Eboli, a small town in the south of Italy. When I was kid, my grandmother’s house, the football field and my family were my whole world.
Eboli is still the place where I live and work. Luckily I have been happy living here, even after I left my parents house.
I’ve always enjoyed drawing. When I was kid I used to copy the illustrations of Popeye and Donald Duck that I had on the VHS. My parents stimulated my passion for drawings. I wanted to be an animator, I always wanted to tell a story!
Growing up, I’ve never lost this passion so I decided to believe in it and I chose to study in the artistic high school of Eboli. I was older and now my dream was to be a cartoonist. During high school I met Mauro, one of my best friends, who had moved from another school. He was the one that introduced me to graphic design. I fell in love with that new world and my dreams changed again.
At the end of the high school I decided to study at the School of Design in Vietri sul Mare, a beautiful place near Salerno. There I continued to study graphic design and illustration. After school I met Ilaria Grimaldi, an illustrator (who became my friend) and taught me a lot of things of the illustration world and suggested I stick with it, even if my education was more focused on graphic design.
Now I work as Art Director at nju:comunicazione and as a freelance illustrator for many clients around the world. This gives me the opportunity to express myself.
My first commissioned work on a magazine was an infographic. Francesco Poroli, the art director of the NBA Italian magazine, asked me to try. The result was cool and I have to thank him for give me that opportunity. After that work I had several commissions from other magazines or private clients and I learned a lot from those first works.
I had the fortune to work with clients like NBA, The Wall Street Journal, Wired, Fast Company, Y&R and many others.
One of my favorite projects is a series of cover books illustrations that I’m doing for Caffeorchidea, a young publisher that gives me the freedom to work on particular stories.
I’m also working on some personal projects and I try to complete it when the commissions allow me to do it. One project is “what’s going on”, an illustration series where I experimented with a new approach.
My creative process is very simple. I try to make a lot of sketches and work to the idea that I have (if I have already an idea) or try to bring the inspiration from art and artist that I like. But the idea could come from other sources. So I’m always curious to find a new inspiration.
I think that the idea is the center of my work. If the original idea is good, if it can transmit something, then you can work on it in many ways. Never be trivial, try to find your own way to communicate something.