We first ran across Giulio Rossi during while hunting for our Top 9 at 99 nominees and were instantly impressed by killer illustration skills. The detail, personality and quality of his illustrations are not only inspiring, but mind-blowing!

We’re not the only ones who think so. Working from his Italian studio, Giulio designed singer Justin Vernon’s (Bon Iver) Art Nouveau-inspired tattoo, was selected for Madonna’s Art For Freedom project and has been featured in Rolling Stone (among many others). Check him out for yourself.

giulio rossi

Name: Giulio Rossi
Location: Italy
99designs handle: Giulio Rossi
Specialty: Illustration

How did you get started in design?

I’ve always drawn the things I’ve seen around me since I was a little kid. Drawing has not just been a form of expression, it has been a strong urge that I’ve always felt.

I took drawing seriously, two years ago, when I bought my first digital tablet. I discovered a whole new world where I could create images and multiple prints of them— I began to create a few portraits for commission.

Then, in the blink of an eye, my work began to spread all over social medias and blogs. I began getting requests to use my work in different publications. It was then, I called myself a graphic designer and illustrator!

Now, I sell my artwork online and work for movie directors, writers, publishers, advertising agencies and 99designs, of course! As a self-taught designer, I’m pretty satisfied but this is just the beginning. I want to work hard, improve and find exciting new challenges every single day of my life!

giulio rossi illustrations
Left to right: Book illustration for Tim Ferris; Daft Punk poster for a 99designs community contest

Describe your design style.

This is a hard question. I don’t really know my style, I just follow my imagination! I graduated in media studies and sometimes my style is influenced by my schooling.

A writer expresses things with words and I’d like to do the same except with my drawings, sort of like an “image communicator.” I believe the ultimate purpose of the creative process is to effectively communicate to the audience while pleasing them with your work.

Tattoo designs left to right: Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here”, a hip and dark personal tattoo and a concept for Ben Uyeda

What led you to start using 99designs?

I found 99design while looking for illustration contests to participate in. I was literally captured by the huge number of contests and the easy duration — you don’t have to wait centuries to get to the final results! I love to work under pressure because it pushes you to get better while training your creativity.

I pick contests that have an interesting brief and inspire me to draw. I upload my first design and if I don’t get a positive response (stars) from the client, I’ll ask what’s wrong with my design. If I think I have a chance, I review my first entry, make the appropriate changes and upload another one.

Often times, I’m invited to contests and I participate if I think my style fits their company. It’s important, to me, not to look at other designers’ work during the contest. I believe in originality which does not come from other people’s work! So I have no friends among the designers. 🙂

My favorite quote states: “Art is a deliberate recreation of a new and special reality that grows from your response to life. It cannot be copied. It must be created.” And that’s what I truly believe the most.

bon iver tattoo by giulio rossi
Tattoo designed for musician Bon Iver

What do you think is the most important part of the design process?

Designers often strategically divide the design process into separate steps and dedicate fixed time for each step. This is not how I work. 🙂

I think of each step as an assemble starting from the brief, leading to a sketch and finally the end result. It doesn’t matter if I equal the amount of time I spend on each stage. Sometimes it takes me a few minutes and other times it lasts hours.

The most important thing is the final result and the client’s satisfaction — it’s so cool when they tell me I’ve made something great and unexpected!

In your opinion, what are the key differences that separate great design from poor or mediocre design?

As I come from the so-called “world of art,” I admire the right combination between a great technique, the attention of details, a proper color palette and a great concept. All of these elements must be combined in a way that effectively communicate the company’s mission.

In my opinion, designs that don’t have these features are mediocre and poor. I, often, try to accomplish this in my work and, although I am not always fully satisfied, I enjoy my creations.

99designs Community Contest designs for our Oakland and “Design Done Differently” poster contests

How would you sum up graphic design in one sentence?

Graphic design is a good service when talented people offer their creativity to those who appreciate their artistic skills.

Graphic design is a bad service when “barely-able-to-hold-a-pencil” people get paid by those who don’t know what they’re looking for.

P.S. that was two sentences… sorry 😉

Do you factor emotional or psychological response into your work?

No, I don’t. I want to take design seriously and don’t want my mood influencing my job. A client doesn’t care if you’re happy or frustrated, he just cares that you create at your best — this is why he picked you after all.

Also my job is involved in the artistic field which is my biggest passion, so I’m always happy to create new things. I love participating in new projects every chance I can.

What is a hobby that you enjoy doing outside of design?

I used to work at home and as soon as I was done working I’d go outside and enjoy nature. I love to walk the mountains for miles, breathe pure air and enjoy the silence — I’m a trekking addict!

Want to see more? Check out Giulio Rossi’s 99designs portfolio.