Artist Interview : Mario Ucci

A little while ago, I featured a wonderful artist named Mario Ucci. After exchanging a few emails, I was honored to be able to get a quick interview with him and get some insight into the big bad world of art…..! 

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Tell me a little about your job. I personally feel that any job that would let me interact with art on a daily basis would be fantastic, but I think this might be a little naive. What are the ups and downs of working as an art director?

The tricky bit about artistic creation is that its divided into 2 bits: creation and execution. The creation side of things require your emotional intelligence, your spontaneity , your acquired knowledge of who you are and all the guesses and premonitions you might have… not to mention the accidents etc.  The execution side of things is the craftsmanship of the work. The ability to create a professionally looking piece, with the correct approach and finish for the specific idea or concept.

The common mistake an artist make is to think he is getting hired for a job to give his point of view on something.. to add a bit of himself.  That is rarely the case. Most often than not, we are hired to execute an idea in a craftsmanship capacity. No input required or needed. Deliver what you have been asked to do, quickly and thank you very much.

While that is a great way to get the bills paid and a way to show off your skills, it gets really frustrating after a while. You become more of an illustrator rather than a creator. A button pusher, if that makes sense.

That is why most illustrators I know that work somewhere to get the bills paid, have a blog with some very different and unique artwork going on.. thats the “venting” of the real artist inside the technician.

But, I think you are right. I remember thinking exactly that in the first years of my CG career. At this point, I cant think like that anymore but I am sure that if I go do something non-related to art, I would regret it.

Working with art but only as a craftsman, a button-pusher is good if you consider it as exercise time, training for when you go home and do you own personal work. The tricky bit is that you get home exhausted and neglect your real artistic voice. It has happened to me and to every single artist I know working in the CG field with me.  If you get well paid and recognition, then your personal work is dead and buried forever.

So I have developed a healthy HATE for my profession. That way, I still can get home hungry for more.

I hope that makes sense?

At what moment did you know you wanted art to be your profession? I mean, were you one of those kids who always doodled and then one day realized you could get PAID to do that, or was there a certain event/person who pushed you in that direction?

I think visual arts comes more naturally to introspective kids… I cant really pinpoint when I decided to be a painter but I remember drawing when I was 12 or 13 looking at comic books and feeling great.

It could all have started out of pure escapism and difficulty of socialising actually. But then when you get to your 20-25 and you mention to a girl that you are a painter, you realise it counts up in your favour and all of the sudden, what you know about art is relevant and people want to hear about it. I think it was then that I really was sure that I was a painter and nothing else.

What would you say is the hardest thing about being in the art world these days?

I used to think that to succeed as a painter it was all about the quality of the work alone. It is not! I can tell you that right now.

I decided to spend a month or so searching the web to EVERY SINGLE artist I could find… and I have found AT LEAST 200 excellent artists that are completely unknown and poor. The hardest thing about art these days is to have the combination of everything necessary to become great..off the top of my head:

  • Quality of work
  • connections
  • an influential champion that will promote your work
  • charisma (personal and in your work)
  • money and time enough to PAINT
  • last but not least at all: LUCK

I see you’ve sort of done everything in the field, photography, illustration, video spots, etc. Is this a requirement for your job, or is this a personal desire to do and learn everything? Which medium do you think you subconsciously like the most?

Thats out of indecision.. But also out of curiosity. The video spots like the Gorillaz promos exist because I need to pay the bills. I dont have extreme satisfaction in doing work for other people, following their rules at all. Photography is a field I have extreme fascination with, but the one I spend the least time on. The medium I really would like to spent 100% of my time is painting.. Oils.

Until that happens, the constant switch of medias really help each other. My CG work always improve when I spend 6 months photographing like crazy, and so on.

A friend of mine, Joao Ruas, a Brazilian painter once said that  other than WORKING, nothing improves more your visual work than reading a book, watching a film and plain living. There is not a better way to explain that.

Top 5 favorite artists, of course.

This is a list of LIVING artists top 5.

Phil Hale
Jenny Saville – My absolute favorite
Justin Mortimer
Alex Kanevsky
Adrian Ghenie

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Thanks so much for Mario for taking the time to do this. Some great words to think about here! If you haven’t already, check out his diverse collection of work.

http://www.uccimaru.com/

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