What is your name and your current occupation?
My name is Riccardo Messi and I am currently working as a concept artist and character designer in New York.
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
I had my first job in a ceramic factory. My main duty there was to design decorations for new products and collections. I have also worked as a music teacher and concept artist for amusement parks; then, finally, I entered the world of animation.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
Basically I am proud of all my work, because behind each stage of my carrer there has been a path to get me there. Because of its popularity I would say WInx Club, an Italian animated series that has been a huge hit in many countries around the world, makes me the proudest, as well as having done storyboards for Disney Channel commercials in Italy.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I was born and raised in Italy, where the animation industry, especially in past years, had not been at its best. Drawing is not easy, but my passion and desire were very strong. Thanks to all my sources of inspiration (Disney, Spielberg and many enterteinment products of the 80’s and 90’s) I continued to learn and grow as an artist, and by the time the animation industry started to develop in Italy, I had enough skills to be able to start working in my country.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
I work as a concept artist and character designer, and this is a creative job. I love every step of it, but if I have to choose I have to say that I love the moment when an idea comes to mind, and this can happen in any place; this could be in the subway, in bed before sleeping, in the bathroom, and once this happens all that is left to do is work hard to make it happen.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
Probably the fact that I always have little time to do the job as I would like it to be done. If I could I would continually try to improve my work but I have to meet deadlines and although my work it’s ok I always hear a voice in my head that says “I could do better”. But now with some years of experience I’m used to it and I understand in an objective manner when my work is ok!
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?
I always have my computer and my Cintiq with me, but also I still love to work with pencil and paper. I try to work with and mix all the techniques I know in order to get the best results; technology allows me to do that so definitely had an impact on me and I enjoy working with it.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
The most difficoult part is definitely to get a job, to feel always artistically updated and ready to work for different companies or studios. This can be stressful but then it certainly pays off when you see the growing that you get.
If you could change the way the business works and is run how would you do it?
I would try to move the business growth by giving to those who are novice to the field the opportunity to put into practice their work and their art thus creating a constant motion that generates a renewal of artistic trends and mixtures.
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
Leaving the country where I was born and raised, leaving family, friends and all affections to chase my dreams and to start from scratch a new life. Now that I’m in NY I’m already thinking of moving to LA, then the search will continue…new contacts, new studies, new opportunities…
Any side projects you’re working on that you’d like to share details of?
I do not like to sit and do nothing;I feel that I have the duty not to waste a minute of my time, cause I was given a gift, the gift to make art. In parallel to my work I m also doing stuff in the field of comics and I have a t-shirts brand where I’m the supervisor of graphics and printing.
Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
I spend the whole rest of my time playing bass. I have been a music teacher in the past, but now I keep all of my time for my music bands; we do mainly acid jazz and jazz funk sound. Other than that I have all the typical interests of people working in this field, and that would be movies and videogames.
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
The advice that I would give is what I usually do every day myself (especially now that I started this adventure in the USA); first of all always be eager to make art, to discover, to be interested and feel the need every day to create! Grow artistically, keep updated continuously on new techniques, new styles in vogue and especially see the work and exchange opinions with other artists. Live the internet era that we have today, just log in and look at facebook, linkedin or pinterest to get inspired. Good luck to all and remember that the work you have chosen is the best in the world!