Meet Valentina Ciandrini – the Italian visual designer creating quirky, colorful and thought-provoking commercial art.
Italian visual designer Valentina Ciandrini specializes in quirky and colorful digital art, branding, packaging design and social media content. Her work is bright, bold and eye-catching, and her creative style is all about combining everyday objects, textures and patterns to create thought-provoking yet satisfyingly aesthetic results.
Over the last four years, Valentina has worked with designers all over the world – flitting between San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Berlin and New York, where she’s had the pleasure of rubbing shoulders with design elite Jessica Walsh (Sagmeister & Walsh) and Maurizio Cattelan.
Valentina started out dabbling in digital art and design when she was just 12 years old. By the time she was 25, she’d already worked as graphic designer and prepress technician for brands such as Unilever, Nestlé, Whurt and Benetton, all while studying advertising at university.
Fast forward to now, the designer has just completed her Masters in Digital Marketing and Communication, and has recently launched her very own visual branding agency, Ciandreamy. The agency has enabled her to work with clients from all over the world and help them to create engaging and meaningful designs that add purpose and value to their business.
We sat down to chat with this creative powerhouse to find out where she gets her inspiration, what makes her tick, and how she uses Envato Elements to create her signature cute ‘n’ quirky designs…
How did you get into digital art?
I’ve always loved drawing. I created my first brochure at the age of 12, then when I was 17, I contributed to the set design of the play “Accidental Death of An Anarchist”, by Nobel Prize-winner Dario Fo. The following year I was mentioned in my city’s newspaper as Valedictorian of my class (highest grades at graphic design high school “Federico Fellini”), and by the time I was 25, I had already worked as graphic designer and prepress technician, for brands such as Unilever, Nestlé, Whurt and Benetton – all while I was studying Advertising at university.
I have since worked both as an employee and as a freelancer for clients from all over the world. After graduation, I worked as a digital nomad everywhere from San Francisco and Santa Cruz to Berlin and New York. I met Jessica Walsh (Sagmeister & Walsh) and I loved her graphic style, as well as the images she shared on Instagram. A year later I also had the pleasure of meeting Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan in person! I simply love his art and also his personal history. They have both really influenced me.
What’s the mission or meaning behind your work?
I’m always looking for playful, ironic meaning in my work, but also a conceptual look. The intention is to always have a message at the core, and to be able to transmit this message visually. I like the idea of making the viewer smile, but at the same time also making them reflect and think about particular issues (society, health, politics, sexuality, etc.)
Your work is so unique! What inspires your art and how would you describe your signature style?
I prefer a fresh and minimalist visual language, which is my personal expression of a neo-pop counterculture. My artworks combine photography, craftsmanship and design without any superfluous elements. I like to push myself out of my comfort zone with computerized processing (being a digital advertising graphic designer), as I believe that the combination of digital and real elements give the best results. I studied and worked in marketing and advertising which really inspires me – I love reworking a message in an ironic, thought-provoking way.
How do your ideas get from your imagination to Instagram?
I’m usually inspired by my surroundings and daily social events. I also follow the work of big advertising agencies and try to combine their commercials with an image in an ironic way to create a double meaning.
How does Elements help you create your work?
Envato Elements helps me with my work in so many ways. I particularly like 3D objects, so it often provides endless inspiration. I don’t always go to the site to look for something specific, sometimes I just browse and an idea comes to me. Envato Elements not only makes creating work easier, but it also makes it better with unlimited creative resources. I think it is really useful for all graphic designers. I think that, especially for 3D images, it’s the best tool available online.
I mostly use photos, 3D objects and sometimes mockups. For example, in my “BE HAPPY, STAY HEALTHY” image, I found everything I needed on Envato Elements. In this difficult period, I wanted to send a message of positivity – to stay strong and healthy. So I had the idea to mix boxing gloves (sport and wellness) with tomatoes (good and healthy food), or gym weights and lime slices, and from that point onwards there was a lot of photoshop massaging.
Where do you sell or promote your work?
I share my work on Instagram and on my website, but I also do commissions for other brands. For example, at the moment I have a contract with a large Italian company and a hip-hop music group who have recently contacted me for a collaboration. I will also soon be selling prints online through an art curator. One day I would love to set up an exhibition.
How does Elements fit into your creative toolkit? What other programs, tools and techniques do you use to create your work?
It depends. Sometimes I let myself be influenced and inspired by the photos I see while browsing the site, other times I go to the site after I’ve developed a specific idea. What I really appreciate about Envato’s 3D objects is the ability to choose the right angle. The program I use the most is Photoshop, but I also use Illustrator and After Effects, and for the prepress work I use ArtPro.
What’s the biggest learning you’ve had from becoming a digital artist? What advice would you give to others just starting out?
Use the tools available to you. I recently started exploring the style that is now on my Instagram, and it’s allowed me to connect with other artists and interesting people who have helped me find inspiration and develop. I think these types of connections are fundamental to the creative process.
What are your top tips for creating amazing, high-quality digital art?
I would say passion, persistence and not being afraid of making mistakes. Talent is very overrated – perhaps it is a completely invented idea! There’s no one who comes out of the womb with a particular talent. You have to learn through experience, by trying and making mistakes. While creativity is easier for someone with an open mind, the bulk is achieved with commitment and dedication.
How has digital art changed the direction of your life? Words of wisdom for others wanting to turn their art into a career?
Graphic design has totally changed my life, allowing me to travel the world and meet many interesting people. However, I would like to make the transition from design to art. I like the idea of having the freedom to choose what I want to do. For those who start this path, don’t be afraid! My advice is to immediately go and work as an intern at world-renowned artists or studios (in New York, London, Berlin, Tokyo, Sydney) to learn from the best. Also, never stop creating, and try to stay enthusiastic, even if there is no inspiration and when things don’t go as you would like.
Feeling inspired? There’s more where that came from! Check out this article about Creating Retro Collage with NaomiAmberDawn, this Interview on Creating Abstract 3D Art with Khyati Trehan, or exploring imagination with Emilio Rios. And head over to Elements to start creating today!