Zooppa Highlights: Interview with illustrator Fatomale

One of the creatives selected for the "Let's Celebrate Women's History Month" project, Jacopo aka Fatomale tells us a little bit about himself.

This post is also available in: Italiano

Zooppa’s interviews and features continue! Created with the aim of giving visibility to talent—we want to continue inspiring the community and browsing through the “lives of creatives” in general. 

We had a chat with Jacopo aka Fatomale a designer and illustrator from Italy who was one of our selected artists from our Women’s History Month Open Call.

Let’s get to it with a short bio on Jacopo!

Fatomale portrait
I’m Jacopo! I live in Italy and I deal with illustration and graphics, collaborating with creative agencies and international magazines. I teach drawing to children through workshops and online courses. I like rainbows and plants. I can’t stand mustard.

What led you to become an illustrator / designer? 

Since I was a child, I had developed an immense passion for fantasy films. I often dreamed with my eyes open—playing alone and recreating worlds with plastic animals in the woods and for fun. I was the classic boy who was said to “have a lot of imagination”, shy and complex. And, I was good at drawings!

Everyone asked me for personalized designs and illustrations and I liked the way I made people happy by doing it—it made me feel included.

Fatomale Atelier

I have always liked Munari—the Italian graphics of the 60s and 70s—and all the fantasy films of the 80s. I think these were the fundamental factors that contributed to my life’s passion for the profession of the Illustrator.

Tell us about your journey… How did you get to doing what you do? 

With the arrival of adolescence, I put aside my passion for trivial and fun things like everyone else. When it was time to choose high school, my parents directed me towards a professional graphic design institute. I finished my “compulsory” studies, learning the art of pagination and the computer that, at the time, was not so big. But I had an immense love for Matisse, Gauguin, Picasso and Miro. 

As I got older, I had a small shock. I had finally admitted to myself who I really was—that I still felt that passion for drawing. My city (now) was close to me and I needed to start a new life. Some new friends I met from the internet advised me to visit Bologna. It was a free city full of art with a fervent subsoil and young people who came from all over Italy to chase their dreams.

I gathered all the courage I had in the world and asked my permission to leave. Then, I applied for a scholarship. I won it and I left. I have never regretted it since.

My years in the Academy of Fine Arts in illustration and comics were the most beautiful of my life. I founded a LOK ZINE magazine, which I followed for several years with my roommates and colleagues. We traveled far and wide, participating in drawing, comic, and illustration festivals and selling our magazine.

In 2014, I won the Ronzinante prize and I published my first and only children’s book “Stories of Dulcinea” with an introduction by Dario Fo. 

Then in 2011, I felt the tight grip of uncertainty again… In this case towards Italy. I left for Erasmus in Hamburg where I really came to understand that I wanted to become an artist by profession. After a year, I returned to Italy. 

In the summer of 2012, I decided to stop in my hometown and fell in love again. It seemed to me that Genoa had changed and become more open and metropolitan. I finally finished my studies, following a two-year period of painting in my city. Today, I work here as if I were anywhere in the world; online, collaborating with magazines and small companies but also with big brands and newspapers. 

Lately I happened to collaborate with:

Underpinned, Nike, logos Edizioni, DXI magazine, 21 Wallpaper, ARBLU, Il Corriere, Ilgiornale.

In Genoa, I teach school for a certain period of the year. I also created an art festival called COTONFIOC FESTIVAL together with many friends (which unfortunately this year has been paused because of the pandemic). Recently, I created a YouTube channel to stay close to my students and meet new people who love drawing. I make small videos on drawing and revealing tricks and tips of the trade. (In addition to my site.)

Who are your favorite artists / designers at the moment?

Amber Victoria, Tess Smith Roberts, Abbey Lossing and many others.

What piece work of your own do you love most? 

Maybe all the products I created for Hoppipolla Box. I created the pin of the planet and the illustrated recipe on the Amazon, that will come out in the June subscription box. In general, I like receiving assignments carte blanche because clients know my work well enough to trust me.

I believe that a good brief will help the illustrator to free his creativity by putting it at the service of the “message” to be transmitted. I usually don’t like it when clients suggest changes to the message. (It happened with a couple of customers and I don’t even want to see those drawings…) 

I also really like the free designs that I created for my Etsy shop, where I sell prints and handmade objects that my Instagram community seems to like!

What advice would you give to anyone who wants to take the path of graphic design / illustration?

This is a very difficult question but I will do my best to answer it. I tell everyone: study a lot, try to draw every day. But also: try to create your own world without being influenced by external factors such as money and fame.

Often this will happen to you (unless you are lucky to be born rich and with a house in inheritance or something): you have to work multiple jobs or stop drawing for a period because life is too hectic and there’s no time. In those moments, clench your teeth and keep your goal in mind. Keep submitting your work to different Art Directors and keep asking them for advice and feedback.

Fatomale artwork

Also, study marketing (I know it sounds boring) and don’t be afraid to ask when you don’t understand something. Always sign contracts before collaborating with someone. Connect with more experienced colleagues who will be able to show you how to protect yourself in these agreements.

In general, I would say: follow your dreams. There is room for everyone in the world and you will certainly do something wonderful even if you do not become Pablo Picasso.

That’s a wrap! We hope you were as inspired as we were.

The message we want to bring home from our chat with Jacopo is that many different things can be done in life: the important thing is to do them with passion. All that you do, your experiences growing and doing new things, are what you will carry with you and help you to truly understand what you love. Following your dreams is not easy. But it is the way that will lead you to “success” which looks not so much like fame, but like self actualization.

Keep following us to learn more about the Zooppa community and the stories of our creatives. Discover other interviews in the Inspirations section of the Zooppa Blog.

See you next time and stay connected!
Zooppa Community Team

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