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Interview with Christina Galbiati

Q: Can you talk about your brand and how you incorporated that vision into your promotional materials?

A: My design aesthetic is simple, clean and contemporary, while my illustration and artwork is detailed, tactile, layered and full of energy. Having promotional materials that showcase my artwork without competing with the design of the piece was instrumental to conveying my brand effectively.

Q: What advice can you give other illustrator/designers when it comes to developing successful self-promotional materials?
A: Promotional materials should be dynamic while still representing your aesthetic vision. Consider your medium, audience and what work you are trying to attain. Design something that not only allows your work to sing, but also showcases how your abilities can benefit their business.
Q: Do you work in a sketchbook to develop your ideas? Please detail your conceptual approach to design.

A: Absolutely! Organic free-flowing sketches are instrumental to the creative process. I start each project by creating a word list and thumbnail sketches in pencil, one idea right after another. The key is getting down as many good (or bad) ideas as possible. The number of thumbnails varies, from a few to several pages. I know when I’m heading in the right direction when I see it and feel it. Intuitive acumen is a necessary part of this profession. It’s the unexplainable, the ‘a-ha’ moment you are striving for, when you allow yourself to trust your instincts. Once I identify a few solid ideas, I enlarge the sketch by hand, do some color blocking and then sketch an outline on my canvas or illustration board (for my design work, this is when I start computer construction). I tell my students that this is what sets them apart from those who overlook the conceptual process of design and just hop on the computer without any direction. If you skip this foundation step, you will end up not only wasting time but your work will most likely end up looking mundane as well.

Q: You have lots of very tactile traditional materials in your work. Can you talk about what inspires such choices in your design work?

A: I gravitate toward clean and contemporary materials such as metal and clear acrylic in order to balance out the detailed, handmade look of my work. Since my art is very colorful, I need to showcase it, so I am careful to pick good quality paper, usually a smooth white 80-100# cover stock. I utilize a limited color palette throughout all of my branding materials (white, gray/black, purple and green) in order to create a consistent visual identity.  

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your approach to visual communications through the layers of mixed media you employ?

A: I am enamored with tactile forms of communication and have created a deeply personal aesthetic journey of photocopying words and sometimes images to create unique patterns. I then hand tear the resulting paper to form my collages. The unexpected outcome of rough edges, uneven tones, broken lines and dot patterns that arise from the xerography process are intentional. My work symbolizes the importance of print media communication despite society’s increasing reliance on intangible, digital forms of communication.

Q: You are drawn to dimensional surfaces as well as unique elements. Can you tell us more about this aspect of your work?

A: It’s my natural instinct to create something that is robust in order to exaggerate my concept. This aspect of my work aligns with my approach to visual communication.

Q: Describe your artistic working environment and how it helps support your distinctive process and approach.

A: I work on a large art table and do not concern myself with the messiness that occurs during the collage process. However, this is one of the main reasons I usually complete each piece in one sitting. This approach allows me to work unencumbered and promotes a productive working environment. 

Q: What are your artistic and design influences and where do you look for inspiration.

A: Everything that is beautiful inspires me. It may be a melancholy sunset over a still beach, an exquisitely designed living room that showcases harmony and warmth, or that perfectly designed poster that shows emotion. If it captures my senses, I take notice. I am particularly drawn to art and design that utilizes type and geometry, specifically the bold and meaningful work of the Constructivism, De Stijl and Bauhaus movements. Some of my favorite illustrators/designers are: El Lissitzky, Alvin Lustig, Frank Lloyd Wright, Andy Warhol and Paula Scher. I am also inspired by León Ferrari and Mira Schendel’s work, which explore the written word through art. It’s quite impressive. In the end, inspiration is about surrounding yourself with things that make you feel good in order to put you in that right frame of mind to get your creative juices flowing. I’ve accumulated a library of books and design publications, as well as several file folders of beautiful samples of print material (pre-Pinterest). Basically, if I see something I like and it’s well designed, I save it.

Q: What do you see yourself incorporating in your work as your vision evolves? Any other advice that you would like to share when it comes to promotional endeavors?

A: I would like to incorporate different types of paper, handmade perhaps, as well vintage ephemera.

Promotional materials are much like a billboard on a busy highway: many will glance, several may see, but even fewer will remember. So, it’s important to spare no time, effort or expense to create something memorable.   

Christina Galbiati specializes in art direction, graphic design, as well as contemporary mixed-media art and illustration. Her 15 years experience has allowed her to create conceptually strong, visually dynamic work for a multitude of clients in a wide range of industries. She received her M.F.A. Graphic Design degree at Marywood University in Scranton, and her B.F.A. in Communication Design from Kutztown University. She is an adjunct professor at Kutztown University and has also taught at Penn State - Lehigh Valley and Marywood University. In her free time, she likes to read, sketch, craft and travel. She resides in Hazleton, Pennsylvania with her husband and two beloved furry felines.



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