Sergio Ingravalle's watercolour & pencil illustrations of footballers are famous the world over, and as footy fans, we just love them.
Your works are known for mixed drawings, digital techniques and watercolours, is that something you always wanted to do when you started?
The decision to focus on illustration in general took its time. Especially because I studied Communication Design where I got so many insights in different areas like corporate design, web design, animation.
At some point, I decided to give my whole attention to illustration because it has always been my favourite area. After experimenting with different techniques I would always go back to watercolours and drawings. Combining them digitally has been the ideal way to work with clients, as I am able to do adjustments and changes fast and easy.
What are you working on right now?
I am currently collaborating with different sports teams on a regular basis which is always very exciting. For example, I create illustrations of the player of the month for FC Bayern Munich. As FC Bayern beat FC Barcelona in a historic match 8:2, I am already looking forward to the next briefing. I am also working on my next book about the Mindshot illustrations. You can find these personal illustrations on my Instagram here.
How has the recent pandemic affected your work?
The pandemic, fortunately, did not really affect my current situation yet.
But you never know and so I used my free time these days to focus more on personal projects in order to develop additional mainstays. For example, I started to give talks about my work and path at Universities or various conferenced before the pandemic. I enjoyed it a lot and did some preparations in the meantime.
When did you first develop an interest in illustration and the arts and do you remember your first paid job?
The first time I thought of illustration I was around 16 years old. I always enjoyed drawing and once in art class in school we were free to create anything we liked. I chose to draw the canals of Venice. My teacher and friends at school liked it and that was the first time I seriously thought about pursuing a path of art, creativity, and drawing.
I had the pleasure to work on drawing jobs during my study. For example, I created graphics for various fashion brands. But after I started to follow my passion as an illustrator, I do remember a job where my personal style was requested for the first time: I collaborated with a German ad agency and was commissioned to draw four portraits for one of their clients.
I loved it.
What is your favourite piece of work you’ve done and why?
After experimenting with different styles for months I created a personal series of sport illustrations where I combined drawings and watercolor elements digitally for the first time. One of the illustrations shows Andrea Pirlo (see below) from the football club Juventus Turin. My favourite player of my favourite team. It was so much fun and when it was finished I said to myself, "I could do these kinds of illustrations forever.“
Do you have a specific workflow and In your current workflow what equipment do you prefer to use?
After creating hundreds of illustrations I know exactly how to start.
1. Rough sketch
2. Detailed drawing
I mainly use Photoshop and a Wacom Intuos Pro. To get in the right, productive mood, I usually start in the morning around 9am and listen to instrumental music.
What kinds of commission works do you currently offer to you clients and how do you keep the work coming in?
A lot of sport-related projects but also portrait illustrations for annual reports or websites. For magazines, I create conceptual illustrations like the Mindshots as well, which request a totally different approach. And sharing the work online is crucial. I also enjoy staying in contact with clients by sending a personal postcard showing a recent illustration. I think it is quite a nice way to say "hello“ once in a while.
What is the most difficult part of being an independent artist?
The beginning. When I made the decision to work on my illustration portfolio and to reach out to clients from my home office, I thought that it would take some time to make it work – and it did take time. I just stuck to it by creating stuff and by sharing it on all possible platforms until the first requests arrived.
What challenges do you face today that are different then when you started?
The time for personal projects decreased throughout the years. At the beginning, I experimented a lot which was like playing as a kid. Actually working as a freelance illustrator is different. Creating illustrations is the most fun part. In addition, you need to update your online portfolio, prepare estimates, send invoices, look at the finances, deal with taxes, prepare promotional material, upload your work on Social Media channels, reply to comments, and more. I need to say that these tasks can be a nice break from the creative work and I usually enjoy these as well.
And why does illustration matter more now than ever?
Illustrations have the power to communicate through images, not languages. In our globalized world where continents and cultures are closer than ever, strong and effective images can achieve a huge impact in every sense.
Thanks to Sergio for taking the time to have a chat with us.
And if you are interested in commissioning him, you can get in touch with him on his site here or if you would like to talk through a project with us, feel free to book a free chat with us here. Otherwise go pick up a copy of Sergio's latest book MINDSHOTS and whilst you're at it, you should get a copy of STICK IT TO THE MAN!