Stefano Colferai is a young Italian illustrative artist based in Milan. Armed with a good sense of humour, his medium of choice is Plasticine. Having established his own workflow to create instantly-recognisable imagery, Colferai begins with modelling as the base of his compositions, which move over to computer-based software for final image enhancement.
Harnessing a little-used medium to evolve an individualistic approach to design, Colferai is a rising talent, with youthful ideas and a childlike approach. Won over by the Italian’s warm naïvety, we sat down with Stefano for a chat about Plasticine; inspirations; travel, and pizza…
Tell us a little bit about yourself…
I come from Milano in the north of Italy, one of the most beautiful and inspiring cities on the planet. As a good Italian, I love pizza (my favourite is with Parma ham, and lots of rocket), fruits and vegetables. I’m a big fan of cous cous too, and oriental food.
When it’s not raining (but sometimes even when), I travel through the city on my yellow longboard listening to a good dose of hip hop music. Travelling is one of the things that make me feel free. Who knows where I’ll be in ten years time; I just hope I’ll be in a sunny place. I think that the place where you live is not so important, but to surround yourself with good people and friends. And of course, have a good WiFi connection.
You’re originally from Italy, but had a spell in London — can you tell us where you live and work now?
I moved from Milano to London three years ago, to have some kind of adventure. I just jumped on a flight and, I have to say, that it was a one of the greatest experiences of my life. The main reason for moving was the need to find an unlimited amount of inspiration and adrenaline. I’m now back home.
At what point did you start to experiment with Plasticine?
Probably about a year ago. I was working only with clay before, and sometimes with 2D digital art. I was a bit bored staying in front of the computer, too scared about the ‘white paper’, and of all the flat digital stuff. I guess I was looking for something more playful to express as best as possible my ideas, and a way to be creative and enjoy it. I found 3D software a bit too complicated, and I’m too lazy to learn the software — it didn’t feel natural to me, though it doesn’t mean that I’ve ruled it out forever.
Plasticine is a wonderful medium, because I can see the results instantly — and you can also play with forms and colours and characters; which is really stimulating for creativity.
Where do you get your ideas and inspirations from?
Everywhere, but especially from the music I listen to, and things I see and observe. I love the paradox of daylight, for example, and all the silly things that people do are a big source of inspiration to me — but in many of my works there are also some reflections and self-deprecating parts of my character.
Briefly describe your working process; from crafting in clay to digital enhancement…
Starting with an idea, I immediately warm a good dose of Plasticine in my hands. The next step is to find the best colour palette to express this idea, and build it into an image. The rest of the process is modelling — working with the clay until my character is smooth, well-curved and ready for the photography session. Then I shoot several images until I find the perfect light. The final post-production process includes slight colour adjustments, and digital correction, but it’s really important to not distort it too much — as I like to retain that handmade feel.
Tell us about your client work, I understand the majority of your portfolio has been self-initiated?
Yes. I still don’t have a lot of clients, because up until now I’ve been focusing on refining my technique and style. I think that it’s really important to work on personal projects and self-initiated work, because it gives you freedom to learn, to express your ideas … but now I’m ready to start looking for commissions and clients; I really want to make a living from this.
Can you tell us anything about the projects you’re currently working on?
I’m actually working on a new series of characters right now, and learning how to approach stop motion animation. I’d love to make my characters move.
What do you love most about working with Plasticine?
As I said in my talk, with Plasticine you have infinite possibilities. You can play a lot with forms; stretching; mixing colours; twisting; making flat figures; and so on … I find it hard to switch off my ideas, and modelling with my own hands catapults me into a dimension where I can become a child again. It’s a kind of magical experience, and that’s what I love most about it.
Who would you most like to collaborate with?
There are many artists and brands that I would like to collaborate with, but one of my dreams would be to model characters for Aardman Studios.