The task of sending the right message through a drawing in the world of communication, with factors that combine to conceive an idea, requires great stylistic skill. Having a clear conception and past references loaded with force can help communicate concepts drawn with simple graphics.

Italian designer Stefano Marra knows this well, having grown up pencil in hand creating drawings of Disney and Popeye, and today approaches this work as something completely innate. “Dedicating myself professionally to this activity is something that has come about so naturally that I think it’s the best thing I could have done,” he says from his studio.

His works conceal no other intention than the message they convey literally. They are what you actually see, and though this seems something simple and very obvious, that is not the case. Getting a few simple lines to say what you want is the product of hard work and dedication. We can see it clearly, for example, in the use of colour in his compositions.

“It is highly relevant to my work – the choice of one tone or another can change the message completely. That’s why I spend so much time choosing the right palette, because I know how colours can help the message and the visual result,” says the designer.

One key factor in Stefano’s favour that helps make his work so valued and impactful is the language that he can intuit to see the end results of each commission.

Stefano Marra portrait.
Festival Ariano Folk 2017 poster.
Illustri Festival poster.

“Obviously my vision is important for the issues I take on, but I always try to have an ironic approach and try to give the work a double meaning that generates curiosity,” he says. “It’s like when I feel so happy and excited when I hit upon the right idea to create each project. As soon as I start on the sketch and see the right way of expressing it, I’m filled with satisfaction and I feel great. In any case, I’m never satisfied until I see the end result,” he says.

Prior research is usually a determining factor when taking on any project, although it is not always a compulsory step. It depends on each job. “I have a method that works perfectly for me. I start by meeting with the client to find out what they want and what references they have. Then I begin my research work and I look at all kinds of ideas from art, music, cinema, photography… When I’ve finally got a ton of clear ideas, I start drawing on paper – normally there are lots of doodles, and when I see that I’m on the right path and I have an early sketch, then I transfer everything to the computer screen,” he says.

Posters, publications in magazines, government campaigns… Stefano covers a broad range of expression which has provided him a loyal clientele in the commercial sector, but he has also not ruled out the possibility of displaying his work in an art gallery.
“I prefer working in the commercial sector, though it would also be nice to exhibit my work in galleries. They are areas that can work in an organised way if you know what you want. In both cases, you need to make your work known,” he adds.

“Colour is highly relevant to my work – the choice of one tone or another can change the message completely.”

He knows this because, in addition to his more personal work as a designer, in which he has full control over what he does, Stefano also works as an art director for a private agency. “I love both design and illustration – they’re both fields that have a lot of crossover for my work. Design tends to have stricter rules, but you can break them if you know how to do it. Illustration gives you more freedom, but you have to have a lot of control of the subject. In any case, I love anything that gives me the opportunity to tell a story,” he says.

On the left, a series of test illustrations and, on these lines, publication in the press.

Photos: Stefano Marra

This article is also available in Español