Meet Giordano Poloni: A Freelance Illustrator

Giordano Poloni is a freelance illustrator based in Milan. He studied cinematographic, worked as a video editor and motion graphics designer before becoming an accomplished illustrator.

Give your best when you’re young cause you won’t feel like working when you’re old!”

(c)Giordano-Poloni-2
Artwork by Giordano Poloni

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Can you please tell us a bit about your background? Please add at least one random interesting fact about you.

I was born in a little city in the North of Italy, near Milan, I lived through an average 80s youth life, growing with the best of Hollywood and having fun with tons of friends. As the most of my generation, I had a very “grungy” teenagehood, but I have to say it has been a great time of my life.

I studied cinematography at the university, then I started working for production companies as an editor for commercials and music videos, and after that, I started working as a motion graphics designer to finally became what I am today – a freelance illustrator.

A short period of unemployment gave me time to get my hands on something I had always had a passion for without ever practicing it, drawing.

I have worked as an illustrator since 2010 and it has become my only profession. This would be a short resume of my life and as asked here’s a little interesting fact about me and my career.

Till 2005 the national military service was mandatory in Italy, with the option to switch to community service. While you were studying you could postpone the call to service proving that you were taking exams at university. With zero exams taken in one year, you were forced to serve. And that’s what happened to me and I became sort of a park ranger for one year in the north of Italy while studying cinema.

What inspired you to make art?

I grew up in a little town surrounded by lands and when I saw some pictures or American movies of that time it reminds me in a strong way of my childhood. It’s a sort of Marcel Proust “Madeleine”. I really love those ambiences, that’s why my favorite painters are Edward Hopper and Dale Nichols. I really love European artists, but what really makes me excited is their kind of imagination. When I think of contemporary colleagues, I have to name Emiliano Ponzi and Shout who have been truly inspiring for me in my early career. The

The 70s and 80s movies are still my favorites in regards to esthetics. TV series don’t really inspire me but I have to say I fell in love watching “Stranger Things”.

Did you study at art school(s) or are you self-taught?

I did not study at art school and I’m self-taught. As mentioned before, I studied cinematography at the university, which I think is visual art like illustration, but very different.

I have to say, try to always take inspiration from movies frames composition, lights, and other stuff. That’s what I try to do and I also really like to add some sort of pending narrative. This helped me a lot in developing my style created around my need to tell an “instant story”.

(c)Giordano-Poloni-1
Artwork by Giordano Poloni

How did you develop your own art style?

I think every artist style is half a conscious mix of research coming from the inspiration of what you like and half something that flows unintentionally from the inside, something you have to accept and grow like a child.

I started reading and collecting comics as a child and I studied cinematography at the university so I’ve internalized the mood and the typical compositions of all the movies I love and also the way to compress an entire story in a single image. I love to crystalize the story in a single shot.

I usually search for inspiration randomly, there’s no single thing I like to focus on. I often like to start from a single object that I saw and working around it to create a world from nothing.

Personally, I don’t like to use logic and reason. I usually let the feeling and thoughts flow, till I find what I was searching for. As I mentioned, I try to focus on an object as a starting point to create the rest of the illustration.

How did you start making a living as an artist? What was your first paid art job?

I was already 30 years old when I started my illustrator career. I’m not sure how it happened exactly, but I suddenly decided to draw when I received a Wacom tablet as a Christmas gift.

I have to say that digital devices really helped me because I think that if I had to start learning traditional drawing techniques, I’m sure I’d give up in a few seconds, I’m not a very patient guy 🙂 LOL.

My first paid job was a book cover illustration for a big Italian publisher. I was very lucky in my beginnings because I’d met a few great art directors that asked me to collaborate on beautiful projects.

What do you live from as an artist now? What are your main income streams and what is the approximate % split of each?

I am fortunate that everything is going very well. My main income comes from commercial commissions. When I started, it was quite hard to get these types of commissions as clients usually want someone skilled that already worked on commercials so they tend to search for someone with experience, but once you improve your clients list it’s an “easy” deed.

I think 70% of my income comes from commercial commissions, the rest, about 25% is editorials, books, and 5% private commissions. To add further detail, 50% comes from the Italian market and 50% from the rest of the world (above all US, UK, and France).

What are you currently working on?

My current biggest project is an amazing children’s book about weather written by a very well-known weatherman.

I think climate ( and weather) is a very hot topic and I think it is important that young generations can learn about it in a funny and beautiful way. I’m also working on different book covers projects and on video animation advertising.

It’s a classic busy season 🙂

What do you think are the most important characteristics of an artist?

I think the consciousness to exactly know your place inside the entire illustration world. How do you place yourself in terms of artistic skills and aesthetics compared to the other artists?

Sometimes I see illustrators that are at a very low level that keep asking why nobody hire them for projects instead of just thinking that they really need to improve their style and skills.

I always compare myself to the greatest and this keeps me very aware of my position and gives me the chance to improve and do better things.

(c)Giordano-Poloni-3
Artwork by Giordano Poloni

What are the art tools and other products and services you can’t live without?

As I only work digitally, I think I can do only by getting a high-performance laptop and software.

There have been many coming out in the last few years. I love to test-search for the best one.

What are your favorite art and other books (fiction, non-fiction)?

I own art books of my favorite artists like Edward Hopper, Henri Rousseau, and a great American painter called Dale Nichols.

I really love comics book authors like Alan Moore, Daniel Clowes, and Charles Burns.

Talking about narrative books my favorites are US writers like Stephen King, Frazer, Philip Roth, and lately, I’ve been reading a ton of scientific essays about animals and plants.

What advice would you give yourself as a beginner artist? Or alternatively please include your favorite quote and the author.

Do not rush! There are lots of great artists that have reached their top very late. Patience and perseverance are the most important things. And also, give your best when you’re young cause you won’t feel like working when you’re old!

Get in touch with Giordano

Thank you, Giordano, for joining us today!

All artworks by Giordano Poloni, used with permission.

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