Study of graphics today in Italy

Every Thursday until the end of August, you can read the long interview that Lorenzo Bruni did with six of the country’s best graphic designers. The extended version of them can be found on Artribune Magazine # 50, where you can also study the global map with about thirty other graphs reported by Roberto Maria Clemente, Riccardo Falcinelli, Jonathan Pierini, Silvia Sfligiotti, Leonardo Sonnoli and Francesco Valtolina.

Typography and the role of graphics are now a common topic of conversation and no longer a technical field for a few professionals. He is not alone in supporting him Shepard Fairey – the graffiti artist’s inventor of the “bottom-up” campaign that helped win the 2008 election a Barack Obama – or the big one Luc (as) de Groot – the creator of the Calibri font for the early Zero Microsoft Office suite.


The question to ask is: what are we talking about when we talk about graphic design? Graphic design is pragmatically everything that surrounds us in a modern society: from the packaging of fruit juices to the poster for peace, from road signs to the graphics in an editorial series; it is visual codes that make it possible to simplify market access on the one hand and collective reality on the other.
But in some years, even this definition is no longer exhaustive, as it still presupposes a society that is nicely divided between consumers and producers. Now we are all producers of opinions, services, visions, desires, but also of start-ups and political parties. We make the same choices on our digital devices every day – changing the image and font, creating letters and media, defining the text-image relationship – that only professionals could afford until twenty years ago.

Armando Testa, Punt and Mes Gotto.  Courtesy Gemma De Angelis Testa Collection
Armando Testa, Punt and Mes Gotto. Courtesy Gemma De Angelis Testa Collection


The definition of visual design is not unique in the six interviews with the six professionals involved in this study of modern graphics in Italy. To Roberto Maria Clemente, Riccardo Falcinelli, Jonathan Pierini, Silvia Sfligiotti, Leonardo Sonnoli And Francesco Valtolina definitions are the engine that guides them in their practice and enables them to produce solutions that are able to make them reflect on the major changes related to their profession, as well as to perform the tasks that the customer has trusted them.
Two exemplary attitudes emerge from the interviews. The first is based on the issue of three-dimensional graphics in the digital age. Sonnoli, Valtolina and Clemente perceive the role of the graphic designer in a different way, because – in connection with projects for art fairs such as Artissima, miart or Flat or for temporary exhibitions – they are not limited to invitation graphics or animated gifs, but they work with communication in the physical container. The graphic object for them is a starting tool for execution and not a place of arrival.
The second attitude responds to the great importance that typography has gained in the digital age, and provides an incredible variety of fonts and media. Falcinelli, Sfligiotti and Pierini respond with a kind of visual ecology, an approach different from the minimalist modernist. In addition to dealing with front pages for publication, they have in fact for various years accepted the challenge of running a specialized magazine such as. Graphic projectexpand its scope.


These interviews remind us that we can no longer be content with reading, where the history of Italian graphics is divided between graphics for public use (Albe Steiner, Bob Noorda, Massimo Dolcini) and creative graphics (Armando Testa, Erberto Carboni, Bruno Munari). Today, the client is no longer just the public or the private, just as the intimate and collective space no longer has such a clear division in the management of everyday life. Therefore, the relationship between producer and society must be re-read and studied with new interpretive tools.

– Lorenzo Bruni

Article published in Artribune Magazine # 50

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