Our interview for today features Graphic designer/Photographer Speranza Casillo. She had gathered several awards for her work, including the PWI as the Best Artist of the Year, and the Budget Oscar, promoted by Ferpi – Italian Public Relations Federation. She is a very passionate designer, and she shares this passion through her projects. Each piece that Spé creates is an inspiration and has a story to tell. Get to know more about this wonderful artist and be absolutely inspired!
Hello Spé! Thank you for letting us have this interview. Can you please introduce yourself to our readers?
I’m Speranza, I’m an art director and graphic designer and I live in Rome.
What made you pursue photography and design? Was this kind of work a childhood dream for you?
As a child, I loved to draw, but I really had no clear ideas what I wanted to do when I grew up… perhaps even as an adult I had no clear ideas… I like to think that things have happened naturally, without my forcing them one way or the other. At age 19 I moved to Rome to study design, as soon as I finished school I started to work. I discovered my passion for photography when my fiancé at the time gave me a Canon Ixus compact 2.1, only because it was on sale… :)
What image/person you have captured would you say inspired you the most?
I collaborated for three years with Roberto Saviano, author of Gomorrah. He lives under police protection because of his outspoken work against the mafia. I supported his ideas until they were in agreement with mine, eventually I stopped the collaboration. But certainly Gomorrah is powerful, it feels strong enough to move atoms, it moves people. And it inspired me and many others to do something to change our society. In the three years I collaborated with Saviano, I shot many photographs and I organized an installation piece against crime. More than 900 people sent in their photos as a way of saying NO to crime. That same year, I won a PWI (Italian Web Awards) award as “Best Artist of Year”. I have taken deep inspiration also from two other meetings, which ironically only lasted a short afternoon, when I photographed the Maestro of cinema Mario Monicelli, and Don Andrea Gallo, an unconventional priest, a true warrior. Both are the kind of people who are put into this world to recharge our energy and inspire us. And then I have a particular place that is inspiring to me and gives me creative energy. Everyone has their own, mine is Kenya.
“Next Africa” was an amazing work, which I think exposes the true essence of the country. What was your experience like working for the Maasai community, creating these wonderful brochures for them and having this work chosen to support the Project Migration?
I’m so glad you like this work, because I love it so much! I started this collaboration with the Maasai community in a magical way, without looking for it. The owner of the Kenyan lodge found my work on the web and he chose me as art director for the lodge’s publicity materials. He proposed a barter: I designed the brochures for their camp, in exchange for travel. When I got there I was overwhelmed by the beauty of this untouched world; in Kenya, in a tent surrounded by the lions of the savannah, I realized that God is the best designer. :) “Next Africa” is a way to share that Beauty; the images were processed with Photoshop and I added other objects and texts from my travelogue. This photographic project was selected to support Project Migration, a project created by Hilary Rowald and promoted by the musician Sting so I had a solo exposition in New York and in Rome.
What “tools of the trade” did you use in 360 DEGREE?
I wanted to do new experiments in photoshop, software that I love! I began creating images I had never done before. I took the photos in 360 degrees (I learned it was better to shoot vertically and without wide angle), then I created a panoramic photo, I worked on it using layer mask, and then I changed the coordinates using polar coordinates (Photoshop CS5)…Rome has done the rest :-)
Can you tell us about your project, “RIGHT TO HAPPINESS”? What inspired you to create this project?
It is a project about the Right to be Happy! The idea comes from the consideration that if it is true that those, who govern us, who instructs us, who takes care of a nation, at the bottom helps to make this nation happy, then you need to ask everyone their own idea of happiness, so the search for improvement can put the person at the center. I photographed ordinary people and very famous artists and intellectuals, in Italy, in South Africa, among Maasai people of Chyulu Hills in Kenya and Muslim population of the island of Lamu. I’d like to take photo/interview about happiness in other countries. First part of this work is on web www.speranzacasillo.com/dirittoallafelicita
Most of your works are very inspirational pieces, including “ROOTS, SELF PORTRAITS FROM MY PAST LIFE”, “BEING YOU” and “PORTRAITS”. What drives you to create or to capture an image?
Great question! I think that these inspirations already exist, they are in the air, and there are people who are able to capture them. Depending on the available tools, they can also transform them. If you’re a photographer, you transform them into images; if you are a musician, you transform them in music; if you are a baker of the finest breads… The project ROOTS www.speranzacasillo.com/roots was inspired by a book on white lions (Mystery of the White Lions by Linda Tucker) I think that each of us puts into the world vibrations that linger and influence the art of other people, in other places, perhaps in other distant times. The intuitions are there to be received, processed into new vibrations. The vibrations remain and will remain even after us. That’s why you should only express Beauty. For all these project ROOTS, SELF PORTRAITS FROM MY PAST LIFE, BEING YOU and PORTRAITS, I shoot the photos and develop them further with Photoshop.
What message do you want to convey to your audience?
I guess since this is an audience of designers, I would say do not ever give away their work for free, do not undersell it. We sell ideas, and we must be the first who respect ourselves, we must respect and defend what we create.
Do you have any new projects that you are currently working on?
Yes, at this time, I work in different areas such as music, tourism, and social cooperatives, producing image covers, brochures, websites, logotypes. My goal is to stay passionate, to do the best I can, with love. That’s what makes me happier, so much so that I really don’t need to go on vacation, because my work is already my vacation.
Can you give any advice for our readers?
I have no familiarity with giving advice, but I’ll try… My advice is: Create! Without expectation of gain or visibility. Be the first to appreciate your own talent, enjoy what you do and then …forget what you did, go beyond. And be happy! :-) Much love.