Marco Melgrati born in 1984 in Milan graduated at Santa Giulia School of fine arts in 2006. He started working as a freelance illustrator in 2008, whereby he captures the times in which we now live. He currently lives off the coast in the heart of Canggu, Bali.
Introduce yourself and tell us how you first fell in love with art?
I’m Marco Melgrati and I’m an illustrator from Italy. I’ve always spent a lot of time drawing ever since I was young so it’s no surprised that I do what I do now.
Where are you from originally and what made you want to move to Canggu in Bali?
I’m from a little town called Cormano, in the suburbs of Milan just north of the city.
Last month, I was working as a lecturer at the CMU University of Chiang Mai in Thailand, in the printing department. When I was there I had met a friend who told me about the secrets of the Balinese lifestyle. So at the end of my contract, I decided to visit and have stayed here since.
How have you found the digital nomad scene in Bali and has it been easy to collaborate with other people?
Most of my clients are from the USA and Europe. I never really work in co-working spaces, because I think they seem quite overpriced in comparison to what they offer.
Most of the time I work from home or in cafes. I’ve met so many other digital nomads here in Bali, in different industries and from all over the world including Serbia, Indonesia and Germany.
When did you start designing, did you study this at school?
Yes, in high school and Arts Academy.
A lot of your work illustrates the problems of humanity in today’s society. Why did you decide to portray your art in this way?
Some of my work is based on commission, and as I mostly work for magazines, I usually have to illustrate a specific topic related to modern day issues. I do however, tend to have a lot of creative freedom and I’m free to find my own way of representing the topic at hand.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
You’ve built a massive following on Instagram with over 200k followers; how did this all start?
Honestly it surprises me, I never thought my work could reach such a big audience. I started uploading my work on Instagram a few years ago and since then I’ve had a lot of work come into fruition from this. For me, I guess it’s because people feel like they can relate to the issues I illustrate in my art.
Have you always been an artist/illustrator or did you have other ongoing jobs to pay the bills?
Like most people in the creative field, I needed to find other ways to earn money at the very start. I’ve worked as a brick worker and even tattooing at one point.
”One of the biggest pivotal moments for me was when I moved to Mexico City, where the rent and cost of living is far cheaper than Milan”
I had a few clients from North America at the time which meant I could work remotely and whilst working in Mexico, I slowly built up my reputation. The more I worked on this, the more I started to see results, until eventually I was able to focus solely on illustration and quit my other jobs.
Do you have any tips for new freelancers learning how to set the right prices and rates for their clients?
It’s a fundamental aspect in this field of work, but unfortunately there is no one glove fits all rule. Each field has different rules and prices. I do however, think it’s important to be willing to accept lower fees at the beginning of your career in order to build the experience.
As with every work sphere, the more you work, the more you can understand how much your work is worth. And only then when you start to earn a lot of commission you’re able to filter and choose the best offer.
What advice would you give to people who are late to the scene and want to try and pursue a career as an artist?
The first thing to note in building a career in this field is to be as professional as possible. Being able to draw helps, but also respecting deadlines, consistently producing high quality work and staying commission focused.
Did you start this out of passion or was it monetised?
Even if you do end up making good money with this line of work, it’s not the typical work you decide to do because you want to get rich. I love to draw and this was the best way to pursue my love for it.
Without passion in this work you can’t get anywhere. Of course, this doesn’t mean I don’t care about money, but it’s not the motivator of why I do what I do. To be honest, I don’t know of any successful illustrator that works just for money.
What does the definition of success mean to you?
Being able to do what you love for a living.
What’s the big dream for you as an artist?
I’d like to be able to develop and collaborate with artists in the animation field. But I do feel like I’m living out my biggest dream right now doing what I’m doing and waking up each morning getting to do what I love doing.
What would you change if you could go back in time?
Maybe to have moved to Mexico and started freelancing earlier. But who knows, maybe me leaving home at a younger age would have meant I didn’t have the same determination and discipline as I did at the time.
What has been your biggest challenge along the process?
As for everybody, finding those first clients who really believe in you and your potential.
What’s your one piece of advice for someone starting out in the creative industry?
Never give up.
If you truly think that this is your line of work and it’s your passion, stay focused on this target. Don’t waste time and use all your energy to be the best that you can be in your sphere.
What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made?
I like to invest in the materials and tools needed for my line of work, and so I guess my new tablet has been a pretty good investment.
Who has been the biggest influence on your life?
My grampa. He’s turning 96 soon and is still completely independent. When I go back home to Milano, he will invite me and my brother for lunch and cook us the best homemade risotto. He’s had a really tough life but instead of resenting life he’s remained such a positive person. He almost didn’t go to school but he’s just so incredibly intelligent and full of wisdom.
What does your morning routine look like?
I’m not really a morning person and I usually tend to wake up quite late as I work better at night when I can focus more. Although, since I’ve moved to Bali, I’ve had roosters waking me up most mornings!
My morning routine consists of breakfast with eggs, fruit and of course, coffee.
If you could gift one book to someone what would it be?
Hunger by Knut Hamsun.
What’s your philosophy on life?
To stay away from trouble and focus on the people that you like and to do the things that you love to do.
24 MARCH, 2019