Illustrator Interview: Sergio Ingravalle

Illustrator Interview: Sergio Ingravalle

Ikon Images

Describe your work in three words

Thought-provoking, minimalistic, observative

How did you get started in illustration? Did you always want to be an artist?

The first time I thought of illustrations 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 studied Visual Communication at the University of Applied Sciences in Dusseldorf, Germany where I always focused on illustration and got insights into other areas of visual communications. In the beginning, I created fashion graphics for various brands like Esprit and Marc O’ Polo. I liked the variety of illustration styles you need to provide for every single collection, but then I decided to make a change in 2011 and traveled to see how people on the other side of the world create, work, and live. The result was a design report for my thesis. In Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, and China I met fantastic artists, designers, and illustrators and after hours of inspirational conversations, I decided to focus on my passion when I get back home: Illustration.

Sergio Ingravalle Illustration of Artist at Work

How do you approach a new illustration, where do you start?

In general, there are two ways: The first one to approach is by trying to catch ideas and thoughts which pop out in my mind while listening to a song, reading the news, or talking to a friend. Afterward, I try to visualize these images in my head in the most minimalistic way possible. This is more of a personal project.

The second way starts systematically with a clearer route to follow. This is crucial when it comes to commissioned projects with a deadline and a problem that needs to be solved. In this case, I try to dig as deep as possible into the subject or problem by i.e. reading articles, watching related reports or movies, and talking with family and friends about it. In this phase, I sketch everything down on several sheets of paper: ideas, elements, symbols, metaphors, synonyms… Afterward, I try to find connections between them to create a visual which in the best case surprises the viewer and therefore catches the attention.

For both approaches, I try to surprise myself as well by combining or exaggerating elements and ideas as much as possible. Mostly it feels like playing.

Sergio Ingravalle Illustration of Man with Helium Balloons

What inspires you?

Movies, song-lyrics, news, creatives on Behance and Instagram, conversations with friends. I often find inspiration in the business world and the relationship of business people. I haven’t found out why, yet...

What’s been your favourite topic to illustrate / favourite illustration and why?

I think in this particular style I would feel bored if there was a favourite topic. The exciting part is to get in touch with subjects I never or rarely relate to before.

What’s been your most challenging commission?

In 2019 the Basic Law for Germany celebrated its 70th anniversary. On this occasion, I had the pleasure to be part of the redesigned book and created various illustrations to complement articles like "Article 1: Human Dignity" or "Article 38: Elections". The pressure here was different from other projects because I knew that this was a special one that a lot of people would hold in their hands. The agency and I wanted the viewer to have a positive feeling while going through the book and the articles and I wanted to fulfill this main goal. You can find the project here.

What is your favourite medium to work with and why?

For the creative part: A bunch of loose blank A4 sheets – when all elements and ideas are on the sheet it helps to spread them to find the connections between them. A sketchbook or ring book feels a bit too constricted.

For the execution: Photoshop and a Wacom tablet.

What does your workspace say about you?

Two screens: One for the work – one for a movie

Sergio Ingravalle's Workspace

Name a favourite artist or an artist who inspires you

The work of Jon Contino and Alex Trochut inspired me a lot, especially in the beginning. They made me realize how diverse the profession of an illustrator can be. For more editorial and conceptual illustrations I enjoy the work of Stephan Schmitz and Andrea De Santis as well as Jens Bonnke.

Sergio's 2 Minute Self-Portrait

Sergio Ingravalle's 2 Minute Self Portrait