Rocco Malatesta : A rare interview

We interviewed Rocco having watched how his passion turned into a global business in no fewer than a few weeks. An inspiring talent, this is one to watch!

What do you do and where do you come from?

My name is Rocco Malatesta, I am an Italian freelance graphic designer and illustrator currently living in Berlin.

What company do you work for?

I currently work with several design agencies here in Berlin: Moccu Kreativagentur and Metadesign, to name but a few.
 Soon I will begin a collaboration with Studio-Good and Iconic and I have several clients scattered around here and there.

Rocco Malatesta graphic designer

Rocco Malatesta graphic designer

Rocco Malatesta graphic designer

What do you focus on / specialise in as a creative?

I have been working in the field of Communication for the past 15 years and I have always been a graphic designer. If you ask me what is the thing that interests me most, I can say I’m very interested in creating identities. Whether it’s the cover of a book or a video game or a company logo.

Rocco Malatesta graphic designer

What makes you unique?

I focus a lot on the study and research of a project before I begin. If I design a logo, for example, I keep drawing and redrawing until exhaustion. I am almost obsessive in this. At the end of the work I have a hundred versions of the same subject. Research is a fundamental part of my whole production process.
How did you get started with that / with your business?
What was your key motivation?

I remember perfectly the day I decided to become a graphic designer. I was about 11 years old and at school they distributed to everyone an orientation booklet for future school choice. And there it was my school! For me it was very clear, as if it were not written in ink, but carved in stone: Graphic Design School. My favorite subjects were all there, drawing, life drawing, graphic design, history of art and photography! But there is one thing .. I didn’t say the exact name was: Female Professional Institute of Graphic Design and Advertising. Female, yep. What an injustice (I thought), but then I called and asked if I could have access anyway and luckily they said yes! I don’t deny that at school was strong enough embarrassment when, in public, everyone had to tell the class their future choice. I remember my Italian proffessor teasing me in front of the whole class: “Rocco it is a girls’ school” with a smile …

Rocco Malatesta graphic designer

Did you study the art of what you are doing or was it something that you have picked up naturally or through other circumstances?

As I said right away I started to study graphic design very young and I keep learning everyday.
Has your city, geographical backdrop influenced what you do or how you do it?

I grew up in one of the most seedy and degraded place in the periphery of Milan during the ’80s, called Cesano Boscone in Italy. Honestly It wasn’t so bad for me. I had a good time and still have my family there. Things have changed and now no longer has a bad reputation. Criminals, jailbirds, nasty people, were all in my neighborhood. I’m now living in Berlin, which for me is very strong inspiration for my work. I consider myself lucky to be able to live and work in a context so interesting and lively. Cues are on every corner here. The context from where I come and where I am, certainly influence what I do, I’m sure.

Rocco Malatesta graphic designer

What made you realise you can or want to sell your work?

Friends and people who are close to me basically. Those, who, when they saw my work showed great interest.
How did you get your first sale?

Was sort of a moment was that?

It happened that I designed a poster for a personal project and I published it on my website. Suddenly and unexpectedly for me, this poster appeared in loads of blogs in the world and this thing gave me great visibility. I never thought it would attract so many people.

How long has it taken you to get to where you are today?

Well, hard to say. It was a long process made of constant commitment and determination, as far as I’m concerned. The motivation, then, has played an important factor in my professional career. It is certainly not a passing passion.

Rocco Malatesta graphic designer

Were there ever moments of doubt where you thought you should give up and try something else?

Fortunately not. Of course I found myself without a job on several occasions, but the important thing is knowing how to rise above it and lift yourself up always.
Is there anything that has become symbolic of your success or coming of age as a creative?

There’s one thing above all: the enthusiasm that I put into doing things. I have understood for some time that with enthusiasm you can just do anything.
What’s sort of relationship do you have with money?

What value do you place on having/ earning it?

I like to spend it on food and I’m not obsessed with money.
Do you have an office, studio, garage you work from?

I work from home, I have a small studio with my tools, colors, books and pens. I alternate my days between drawing and cooking. Working from home I can afford to do what I really love: cooking!
What do you spend most of your time doing?

My biggest passion is cycling, so as soon as I have free time I go out to do some ‘miles. Sometime I like the basketball court near my place. I read a lot and draw. I always have a sketchbook with me on which to draw or write something, wherever I go.

Rocco Malatesta graphic designer

Rocco Malatesta graphic designer

Rocco Malatesta graphic designer

What are the two most important things you have done to grow your business?

Research and consistent effort.

What’s your secret weapon?

I think the enthusiasm.
What’s the best tip you can give to a jewelery designer / photographer / artist / fashion designer / T-Shirt designer etc.?
or, what three pieces of advice would you offer creative entrepreneurs starting out today?

Believing in what you do, pay no attention to anyone or anything. Be straight on your way like a train. Sooner or later the results come in some way. And if not, well, patience. If you really believe in what you do, you don’t have any regrets. Better to try and fail, than the other way.

Learn more about: Rocco Malatesta