Congratulations to Enrico Varrasso for his achievement (6th place) in the 3rd International Reggae Poster Contest (IRPC)!
Enrico Varrasso has been an artist and illustrator for over twenty years. He was born in Toronto, Canada and lives in a town just outside the city with his wife and three children. Aside from his art music plays a large part in his life, it raises his spirits and fills his life with joy. If you visit his website at www.enricovarrasso.com you’ll see many examples of the various musical artists that make his days complete.
Enrico talked to graphicart-news about his participation in the IRPC and his amazing work.
Hello Enrico. Tell us, please, how did you find out about the International Reggae Poster Contest and what was it that attracted you to participate?
– I was sent an invite from an online friend who really likes my work and thought my style would do well in the contest.
What’s it like having your work selected in the International Reggae Poster Contest 2014?
– It’s been great exposure and it’s thrilling to know my work is being enjoyed all over the world .
Is Reggae quite popular in Canada and when did you become attracted to the genre?
– It is popular in Canada. The city of Toronto (which I live outside of) is very multicultural, they hold celebrations for various religious and cultural events so I have always been surrounded by music from all over the world. Reggae is one of the many genres of music I love to listen to.
Tell us a bit more about your design, what is your design philosophy and meaning behind your winning poster?
– More than anything I consider myself an illustrator so when I tackled the poster I thought of it as a portrait piece above anything else. I wanted to create a single strong image that could stand on it’s own without too much embellishment.
Your illustrations are truly amazing! Did you study fine art? Share with our readers how you developed this technique and style.
– Thank you. I graduated from the Ontario Collage of Art in 1989 with an Editorial Illustration diploma and worked as a freelance illustrator and artist ever since. After a few years in the business I began to work digitally and that opened up a whole new visual world for me. I’ve always enjoyed experimenting with various programs and my current style evolved from combining different elements created in Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator and DMesh.
How do you approach a design such as the winning piece?
– As I mentioned previously I consider myself an illustrator more than a designer but I do think I have a very good eye for design. When I plan out my illustrations my goal is to create a natural flow and balance. I try to guide the viewers eyes throughout the image allowing them to rest on certain important elements within the piece.
Do you ever have creative slumps? What do you do then?
– I think we all do in some way. Whenever I feel myself getting into a rut I try to clear my head of the stresses (usually money) that affect the flow of creative juices. I’ll also try to focus on other creative endeavors like photography or painting which loosen me up and help get the creative flow working again.
Is there any particular artist or illustrator that inspires you?
– Countless artists and illustrators inspire me but there are a few that stand out in my mind: Cy Twombly, Ralph Steadman, Paul Klee, Andy Warhol, Gerhard Richter…to name just a few.
When did you get you first break as an illustrator?
– My first real break came from an art director at a magazine called “The Financial Post”. After going around the city of Toronto for months meeting numerous art directors (who all had nice things to say but no work to give) I showed this art director my portfolio and he handed me a job to create two illustrations for the next issue. I was thrilled. As it turned out I created many more illustrations for him over the next few years.
What is your first experience in poster design?
– When I was just starting out I remember creating a small, simple black and white poster for a piano teacher who wanted to advertise his services. He printed off a couple of dozen or so and posted them throughout the neighborhood.
In your opinion, what makes a good (poster) design?
– In my opinion great posters have eye-catching visuals, a strong message and a natural flow to them. If they are overworked or forced they miss the mark and fall flat.
You are a father of 3 children. How do your children feel about your work? Do you believe any of them will follow your steps? What would you advice them and all the future designers/artists
– My children (as far as i can tell) enjoy my work. my eldest, named isabella, keeps asking me to make a portrait of her and yet (because she’s a teen) refuses to pose for photographs…funny. much to my chagrin it appears that all three are currently planning to follow in my footsteps. i say that because I know how difficult it is to be a creative person in a world more concerned with the bottom line than with beauty and poetry. I recommend to all future designers/artists that they take a good hard look at the industry they are about to enter and decide if they have it in them to work really hard at not only creating but also selling themselves to the world.
What are you working on now?
– I’m just getting started on a portrait of this years nobel prize winner of economics for one of my ad agency clients. I’m also always creating new art for myself that ends up for sale on my website store, check it out here > http://www.enricovarrasso.com
How would you describe your work?
– Tough to answer but i guess you could say my work is the colour soaked place where geometry meets the real world.
What would you like to see as a career benefit coming out of wining this International design contest?
– Exposure is a big thing in this business so I am hoping many eyes will get a chance to view my work which in turn will lead to people purchasing my services and art.
What are your thoughts on “Intl. Reggae Poster Contest’s” objective to have the Reggae Hall of Fame museum built in Kingston, Jamaica?
– To me it sounds like the obvious place to build the museum. Most people would agree that Jamaica and reggae go hand in hand so what better place to honor the music then in its capital.
Before we close, who is your favorite reggae artist and what reggae tune gets regular play on your iTunes play list?
– I think the answer is obvious in my case: Bob Marley. I’ve created two separate illustrations of him over the years and in my eyes his music best represents and helps promote reggae around the world. The song that is getting regular play these days is “Exodus”… great song!