Paolo cooperates with about 10 magazines all over the world – he supplies all these publications with articles and detailed technical drawings. In 1993, he also founded an industrial design firm called Multilinea. Since then, he’s been producing watches, bikes, means of transport, helmets, sport glasses and other stuff for customers such as Momo, Martini & Rossi, Mazda, Honda, Diavia, Philip Morris, Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Ibea, Universal and so on. We invite Paolo D’Alessio to give us five tips on how to make it in the sector of motorsport art.
- Try hundreds and hundreds of times
In the early spring of 1978, I started working with Autosprint – a famous Italian racing magazine – as a technical illustrator. I must say that my drawings were not really good at that time. Thankfully, Marcello Sabbatini, one of the prominent Italian journalists and Editor of Autosprint, saw potential in me and he convinced me to pursue this career. Since then, I have made thousands of drawings and loads of cutaways of the most important Formula 1 vehicles. I am also the only fool in the world to make the cutaways of ALL the Ferrari Formula 1 cars from 1948 up to today…
- Be true to valuable traditions while working with new technologies
Once it was easier to make Formula 1 technical drawings. I remember that in the ‘70s and ‘80s I went to the races with a notebook, where I had written the list of the details that I had to take pictures of. A lot has changed – the Formula 1 pit lane is now more guarded than Fort Knox and taking the needed photos is proving to be more and more difficult. Almost everything is digitalised, and this sport is becoming a kind of show that originated far away from the racetrack. It’s a world where everything changes very quickly. Sometimes, too quickly – even the Formula 1 technical art has changed profoundly. With a few exceptions, most of the current illustrations are nothing more than digital photographs processed with Photoshop and transformed to look like solid drawings. What a pity!
- Accept criticism and cherish compliments
I really don’t know how things work in other countries, but in Italy there are no proper schools for those who want to work in similar sectors. So, if you ever decide to take this path, you have to be prepared to receive a lot, I mean A LOT of criticism. Of course, you must learn from it rather than get angry about it. Sometimes there’s also positive feedback that completely changes your life for the better. For example, in 1987 I made a collection of lithographs and dedicated it to the Ferrari F1 Team. Enzo Ferrari, who I have met a few times, sent me a personal letter full of sincere congratulations! And Gianni Agnelli, who received the very first copy of my “Formula Ferrari” book, called it “the most complete work he had ever seen about the history and evolution of the team”. So these two particular cases of praise made all the hard work and criticism worthwhile.
If there are no specific schools or teachers, how do you get better?
- Learn from masters
Here’s a million-dollar question: if there are no specific schools or teachers, how do you get better? Well, I can give two pieces of advice – visit famous museums of cars, take pictures of the technical details and simply start drawing. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, it’s all part of the process. Also, spend hours and hours looking at works of the greatest artists of a specific area. In my case it would be someone like Tony Matthews or Bruno Betti. There are also individuals that are unique and extraordinary up to a level where it is extremely hard to understand how they work. For instance, the Japanese creator Inomoto is one of them – his drawings are the most complicated pieces that I’ve ever seen in this business. In one drawing Inomoto is able to show you the cutaway (cross-section) of the car, its engine and its gearbox. No need to stress that this is an insanely difficult technique, but you must explore a lot of work done by others in order to know the market, train your imagination and get inspired.
- NO for money, YES for passion
A warning to keep in mind: if you’re not from a rich family, your money prospects probably won’t be exciting. Nowadays the beautiful designs of the past have been replaced by digital images or virtual animations and it is increasingly difficult to find any publisher willing to pay for good old-fashioned design. So, if you really want to have a career in similar areas, I strongly suggest you secure another job. Personally, after graduating in architecture in 1983, I have been involved in industrial design…