Powered by creativity and social media
How do you go from Italy to Hollywood without even taking a plane? If you’re Federico Mancosu you travel thanks to your creativity and the power of social media. Even before Quentin Tarantino had a cast for his latest movie, Django Unchained, Federico had made a poster for the film. His passion for Spaghetti Westerns and his minimal graphic style brought Frederico’s work to the attention of Tarantino on Facebook and soon the Italian artist’s poster was at the center of Django Unchained’s publicity campaign.
Today, the young Italian graphic designer continues his heavy media diet and works on new projects, all while touting the ability of social media to bring artists recognition beyond the boundaries of their home.
How did your work go from a project in Italy to a poster featured in Hollywood?
Quentin Tarantino noticed my first minimal works in 2010 thanks to one of his assistants who had me send copies to LA. So, when they released the storyline for Django Unchained in Spring 2011, I wasted no time in publishing my own version of the poster based on the title and storyline. Given my love for Spaghetti Westerns it wasn’t hard to do.
When the first rumors about the film came out, but a possible cast hadn’t been announced yet, my artwork was used by blogs worldwide. That summer I still wasn’t happy with the poster, so I made a new one. This was when Tarantino was on Facebook and among his 100 or so friends was a friend of mine who had collaborated with him on the Italian Kings of Bs exhibit during the Venice Film Festival in 2004. He published my work on Tarantino’s wall, and within a few weeks I was contacted by a production team looking to buy the rights. Aside from being used on set during filming, my poster was a reference point for the official Django Unchained advertising campaign.
Which move genres or directors inspire you the most?
What I love the most is genre cinema, above all Italian genre cinema from the 60s to the 80s. Spaghetti Westerns, detective stories, horrors and thrillers are definitely what inspire me the most. Aside from Quentin Tarantino, the contemporary director who inspires me the most is Wes Anderson. If I had been born few decades earlier, I would have liked to collaborate with Sergio Leone and Dario Argento.
Beyond movies, what inspires your work?
I’m a cultural omnivore. Every month I buy several books dedicated to artists from all backgrounds and genres – books on comics, old toys and cinema and music posters from around the world – and I watch animation and TV series. In other words, I try to take in as much stuff as I can.
The roots of my minimal poster style are in the classic works of Saul Bass, who was known for his collaboration with Alfred Hitchcock. If we’re talking about contemporary artists then I must mention Mondo Tees in Austin, Texas which commissions movie posters from world-famous artists. Mondo makes and sells alternative posters for commemorative events or special screenings that mainly take place in the theaters of The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema. Among the artists that I love the most are Tyler Stout, Martin Ansin, Ken Taylor and Olly Moss.
Everyone is talking about your Django poster, but are there other projects you are proud of that haven’t garnered as much attention?
Other than Django Unchained, my most popular project is my tribute to 10 legendary music video clips. When I published the project I was the first artist to create this type of series and it brought me some modest success abroad, something that I didn’t achieve with my previous series on Italian genre cinema … My homage was probably a bit too specific and, since I left the titles in Italian, maybe it wasn’t appreciated very much outside of Italy …
Working internationally, what are the advantages and disadvantages of being an Italian graphic designer?
I personally don’t see any disadvantages. Everyone dreams of being published outside their home country … Italians come from a long and glorious artistic and creative past, from the masters of the Renaissance to the great designers and creatives of the past century. The only complaint is that we’ve come late to new technologies. This was a big mistake … Today I see many Italian artists working for international studios and this makes me proud, but it’s not enough … We need to take advantage of social media as much as possible to make our works known, above all beyond our borders, because that’s the only way they’ll become known at home as well.
Would you say that social media is changing the way freelance designers and artists work?
Sure, social media has played a central role in spreading the work of designers and artist. Whereas before the only way to make oneself known was to spend a lot of money organizing an exhibit, today it’s free to put your work on display. Other than spreading the work of artists from all parts of the world, social networks have raised the average quality of the work by bringing together different styles and genres, something that was unthinkable before.