Artist Interview - Riccardo Sabatini

Feature Story

Riccardo Sabatini is a graphic designer and visual artist from Italy. His production ranges from graphics and typography to abstract visuals that he has recently started to put on walls. He has participated in international exhibitions including the likes of Playmobil Art and the Beijing Design Week in 2015, and the 36 Days Of Type showcase in Barcelona. His style features the use of acid colours and geometric forms, alongside bold typographic choices, and copy with a certain sense of humour. He has recently won two prizes at the 2018 edition of Communications Arts magazine in the typography category.

Florence, Italy 

How can you as a solo creator maximise your performance on a project yet retain enough vigour to launch yourself into the next one immediately if necessary?

It’s about properly planning your time; or liking your job a lot. Personally I love my job, but I’m terrible at planning my time. So it’s a draw.

Given that you do not have a boss or fellow-members of a team to criticise you, how do you know how well you can actually perform? Are you sometimes tempted to say “Oh, that will do”? Or do you always know when you have given it your best shot?

I don’t believe great creators say “Oh, that will do” — quite the contrary. Self-criticism is essential; you’ll always know when you’ve been lazy, bad or truly committed. Despite that, it’s the customer who really decides the final value. You could have successful ‘lazy’ works and under-rated masterpieces; just deal with it.


How important is patience?

Patience is important but indulging too much in something can be toxic. In some everyday projects I’ve done, it was essential to carry on, but I’ve also done lots of revisions for the same reason. In the end it’s more about perseverance. Talent is a gift for being stubborn in pursuing results.

How does a solo creator maintain focus during the repetitive and dull parts of a project?

Boring and repetitive are relative point of views. Details and refinements can often be that, but they can be also satisfactory. Having a bit of obsessive-compulsive disorder in this profession is not that bad.

Does a solo creator have the same access to all the best resources as a large agency would? Could he/she “blame the tools” as a cyclist might if they could not afford a premium bike?

The main problem for a solo creator is resources. A large agency is made up of solo artists, and they can hire other solos if they miss that specific resource. The point is not to aspire to have many resources, but to be a great solo performer.

A cyclist often faces poor conditions — the state of the road, bad weather, etc. How do you know what are the best conditions for you to work in and does client pressure sometimes force you to go ahead when conditions are not ideal?

I’m kind of bipolar it when comes to this. I like when the brief is super clear and the client knows exactly what he wants. Although it leaves little room for experimentation, it’s relaxing that you can work on the details to the fullest. The opposite is also true — getting lost under pressure can produce interesting results, sometimes even better than when everything is under control.