What is your name and your current occupation?
I’m Daniele Afferni, illustrator, concept artist and co-founder of StudioASC, a creative team specialized in pre-visualization and illustration for advertising, film and TV commercial located in Milan, Italy.
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
Drawing and painting are the only things I’ve done in my whole life! After attending an Art High School and a qualifying course in comics drawing, I directly moved to my first job as an inside-man illustrator in a big advertising agency (Armando Testa). (I don’t think it’s crazy …all the nights we were forced to spend into the agency to deliver our works on time …those were crazy!) Then I became a freelance illustrator and later I founded the creative team ASC, in association with two friends of mine, the illustrators/designers/animators Anna Citelli and Luca Mari.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
I had the thrilling opportunity to collaborate with several interesting professional artists, like the Italian movie director Gabriele Salvatores in “Nirvana”, or the English movie director Nicolas Roeg. In Europe it is a common habit for the movie directors to do also commercial spots to enlarge their experience; just to give you an example, I recall with great pleasure having worked with Wim Wenders for the Ariston-Hotpoint tv commercial: really particular to see a director of a very high artistic level to “soil his hands” with a washing-machine!
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I didn’t start as an animator. Basically I’m a Visualizer and a Concept Artist. I finished my studies with the aim of drawing comics, but almost immediately I moved to advertising, where actually there were more job opportunities. I started working with “manual devices” (markers, watercolors, oil etc) … later came the computer, Photoshop, Painter …and then digital compositing/editing, After Effect, Premiere, and 3D modeling…The more I grow older, the more I have to learn new things! So…I didn’t begin working as an animator, but in the end I’ve turned into it!
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
I sit in front of my tablet and… I start drawing! Actually it is not exactly like this… sometimes it is really everything but drawing! At the moment we are working with photographic animatics …so we start by shooting models, then we assemble and post-produce with Photoshop, composite and edit with After Effects, Premiere…and finally we model and animate 3D objects if necessary…We always work with a LOT of urgency: we typically have only few days (4 or 5) to finish the work, without stopping… so 4 or 5 days are as a single workday to me!
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
I like creating places and environments that do not exist .. even if they are just a common sitting-room where people drink a Coke! I like putting lights, shadows, create atmosphere…Recently my team and I are moving to Concept Art for movies and videogame industry, where we have the opportunity to invent and visualize more exciting and fantastic worlds that are closer to my basic imaginary…
(I’ve grown up with Star Wars, Alien etc… so… let’s admit… which little boy able to draw wouldn’t like to portray monster, aliens and spaceships?)
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
Being paid! We are a team of freelancers and we do everything by ourselves, and to chase after money is a terrible job, not creative at all!
What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis, how has technology changed in the last few years in your field and how has that impacted you in your job?
Basically we work with Photoshop, After Effects and Premiere… and also with a lot of 3D applications (Modo, 3D Studio Max, Poser etc…)Technology has completely revolutionized the way we work … hundreds of pages would not be enough to describe it! As an illustrator and concept artist (as well as a painter) I must say that the infinite possibilities that technology and computers have offered us have not chained creativity … they’ve unchained it!…anyway, I go on painting as well with oil colors… sometimes soil with oil is still funny!
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
Without considering getting paid (see above), the hardest part of our job now is to have the right contacts to make the activities more interesting. We would like to further expand our work into Concept Art business. It’s not easy to reach the “right-people in the right-place”! But we are always optimistic! (that’s an Italian way of living!)
If you could change the way the business works and is run how would you do it?
With regards to the European situation, more worldwide connections between artists and clients.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
Animation greatness not yet… but the day’s just started!
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
Advertising is stressful and always on a razor edge. You are not allowed to make mistakes because you have no time to do the work again! For me, one memorable tough situation happened during my first years of job, when this kind of pressure was unbearable… but the time and the experience have helped me to get used to this. Now, I may say, I’m really ready for any kind of challenge! I recall an horrible situation in my first work steps:…once I hadn’t completed an important visual, so, when the client asked for news about the delivery, I pretended to be someone else on the phone! I was very young and after a few minutes of masquerade I was unmasked! That client was lost forever, of course ah ah!
Any side projects you’re working on that you’d like to share details of?
I am an artist (a painter) and this is not a secondary activity for me… not at all! I do oil paintings, with subjects absolutely far from advertising world …creatures, monsters, comic villains etc etc…Seeing is believing ! (see the link below to my personal artist site or a my IMMAGINARIO webpage)
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?ah ah … I have never ever done anything other but drawing, painting, imagining ….24/24/365.
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
I really don’t know…I’m not very good at dispensing advice…I would say: never give up… follow your dreams! and believe in their own abilities (if there are, of course!)