Paolo Maria Frattesi

Where did you grow up and when did you decide to become an artist?
I grew up in in a small town in the central part of Italy. I wanted to become an artist since I was 7 years old.

Did you go to an art school or are you self taught? How did you develop your skills?
I graduated from an Art High School and I also attended the International Comic School in my hometown.

Have you always been supported in your artistic path or has it been challenging to let your family and friends understand your choice?
My family has always supported me, with my friends was a bit different because they never understood animation could be a career. Back in the days, here where I live it was a bit difficult to imagine that drawing cartoons can potentially lead you to an actual job.

What was the strongest influence you had when you were growing up ( artists, movies, cartoons, comics etc.. ) ?
Right at the beginning my major influence was Disney, then growing up I started to be very fascinated by all anime and manga. Authors that strikes me the most were Miyazaki, Rumiko Takashi, Masakazu Kazura, Akira Toryama and many many more. Later on in life I have also developed an interest for authors from many other countries such as France, Belgium, South America and Italy of course.

Did you have a favourite subject to draw when you were a child and do you still have one today? If you do, what makes it so special?
I like to draw a bit of everything, but I have a special spot for drawing characters. Unfortunately most of my work is job related and often I have little time left to draw something completely original.

From the initial client idea to the final work: what goes through your mind when you are designing and what is the method you use when starting a project? Could you describe it?
Since I work in animation, at first I try to understand what the director has envisioned. Then, I start drawing in a wide range of different style, trying to get the feeling of what he or she has in mind. Once I finally have a specific idea for what I have to do, I start drawing further material to establish and expand the overall vision of the project.

What is your process in colouring your art and what type of tools and media do you use?
It depends by the art style, but in most cases I star painting flat areas, then I add gradients and details. I use Photoshop for drawing and colors. When I need a smooth clean-up i like to use Paint Tool Sai.

What part of the creation process is the most fun and easy and what part is the hardest?
The whole creative process is fun and hard at the same time. When you start from zero you really have to put yourself in what you do. Once that the overall design for the job has been established, the work becomes mostly technical and therefore easier.

What is a typical day for you, and who are the people you work/collaborate with?
I start working at 8 and finish at 6. Being a creative director I mainly deal with producers,  writers, storyboard artist, painters, 3D artist and marketing people. One thing that I hate to do is preparing creative lists, but when you deal with a lot of people they are necessary.

What are some of the things you have learned from other artists who you have worked with or whose work you have seen?
I have learned ALL I know from other artist. I think that measuring up with other creatives is the most important thing if want to grow professionally.

What projects have you worked on in the past and what are you working on at the moment (if you can tell us)? 
Monster Allergy, Winx Club, Huntik Secret and Seekers, Regal Academy, Pop Pixie and many more that actually make me very proud since I'm working on them as the Art Director (at the moment I can't reveal their names).

What is your longterm career goal and what would your dream project be?
I would love to direct a feature length film.

Working for a company or freelancing: what suits you best? And why? 
I feel that for me it's better to work for a company. If I had to work from home I would get distracted too easily.

What advise would you give to an artist who is dealing with an art-block? How do you boost your imagination and keep yourself creative?
I take a break and I stop thinking about work and let the unconscious elaborate the problem. When I go back to work it seems like magic because I can actually menage to solve the block.

Concept art, animation, illustration, comics, there are lots of choices. When you’re young, sometimes you know only one thing: you love to draw. What should a young artist take into consideration to make the right decision when choosing an artistic path?
Unfortunately in Italy an artist needs to take what it's offered to him. There aren't many opportunities here because it's still a niche field. Artists need to be able to do a little bit of everything, but I believe that if a person really has to make a choice, he/she should go for something that he feels would represents him/her the best.

Many art teachers and schools suggest to their students that a commercial artist should always work in one consistent style if they wish to have a healthy career. In your own experience, do you believe this to be true?
My experience in animation tells me the exact opposite thing. My ace in the hole has always been to be able to work in many different art-styles. This particularly suits you if you work in the animation field, when you work in a team you need to know what a director wants and be able to deliver his vision. If you work as an illustrator or as a comic book artist though, you might find more success with a consistent (and therefore more recognizable) style.

What’s your point of view about the industry today: what are the expectation for someone who wants to make a living with an artistic career?
In Italy this is a tough career. Talking to people who have worked abroad I have the feeling that in other countries this might be different. I hope that my country one day will develop a bigger and stronger animation industry. This would be such a great help for all the young talents we have over here, who wouldn't be forced to always look for opportunities abroad to pursued their artistic ambitions and dreams.

We have a soft spot for hand drawn animation, what is your opinion about the future of this art form?
I really wish to this art form to survive. In my opinion 3D animation hasn't reached yet the broad level of emotions that 2D can deliver.

Social networks, crowd funding websites, print on demand online service, you name it. New media on the internet are connecting the artists directly with their fans like never before. In your opinion, how is this affecting the industry and what are the pros and cons?
Pros: it's great way to exchange ideas
Cons: someone has developed a big ego out there.

Finally, Where can we see your art online and get in touch with you? How can we buy your creations and support your work?
Unfortunately in the past 5 years I have been developing a lot of new project that, for several reasons, have never saw the light of the day. The legal team from the company I work for has unfortunately forbidden me to show this material (and believe me it is a lot of stuff!), so there's no so much to be seen right now, but I'm working on a new project and I'll be able to show you more in the near future. 

Thank you Paolo :)