Can you give an overview of how you got to where you are today?
Where to start? I think it all began in Florence when I first met Luca Guarini and Luigi Vitali; we were students and flatmates at that time. Then after about a year, I went to Barcelona to study graphic design and Luca and Luigi went to Madrid. We decide to start DUST magazine to follow our passion for photography; we started it without any expectations. I still remember we built the first issue via skype and then we met in Poland to finish and print it. I still get excited when I think about that period, we were very young and full of dreams and motivation. I think we still are, maybe that’s the key to keeping it together, with a big dose of perseverance. From there a lot of things have happened.
Where are you based?
I actually travel a lot, I work several months in Berlin during the year, and when I can I return to my hometown Catania in Sicily to spend time with family and enjoy the sun.
At the moment I'm DUST magazine’s art director and graphic designer and also working on this new project that’s called DUST capsule. We started it two years ago, and we’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with differents artists and designers like Peter De Potter, Jurgi Persoons, and Vava Dudu. I love to experiment and challenge myself with new projects; learning is what makes me feel the most alive and approaching this new field is something that’s really exciting for me.
How does DUST put together an issue from start to finish?
At DUST we are like a family, we do everything together, we all propose ideas for who to work with and discuss all aspects of the issue. Although everything is a collaboration, Luca’s main priority are the shoots, Luigi writes and commissions, and I look after the design.
So after we decide on the theme for the issue, we start building out ideas for shoots. For that, we start with photographers and stylists that we want to work with, and then we build out from there. At this point, I start the graphic design research and propose ideas to Luca and Luigi. When it's time to start putting the issue together, we all go to Berlin, and I propose various layouts and then together we chose. At this point, we’re working nonstop for about two weeks. The production is done in Lithuania and Luigi goes there to see it through.
How do you work as a graphic designer to help convey DUST’s message?
I think that clarity and simplicity are the most important things to have your message well received, to be strong and loud you don’t need to have a catchy graphic but a strong message. It’s also important to always be in line with our aesthetics and who we are. I like to experiment and bring news ideas to the table, but we have to make sure it’s inline with the DUST way that we look at things.
What would you say is your biggest challenge right now?
My biggest challenge at the moment would have to be the DUST CAPSULE project as that’s where most of my attention goes (aside from the magazine). When I start something new I am always full of doubt, and I know that I have tons to learn, but at the same time, this is the most beautiful part.
What was your biggest learning experience?
I guess it was when we were printing the first issue of DUST; I realized that what I learned in school wasn’t enough.
Outside of Dust, has there been a favorite project that you’ve worked on?
There’s a few! One of them was this photo book we published in collaboration with Joost Vandebrug “Cinci-lei,” that focused on the children that lived in the tunnels underneath the streets of Bucharest, Romania. All of the proceeds of the book were donated to help the children.
Another one I really liked was in collaboration with McQueen, they launched a bag and asked me to design the logo for the bag and a small agenda that they gave during their presentation. I really enjoy creating logos and building brand identities as it’s something challenging but also very fulfilling.
How do you keep yourself engaged and inspired?
I never get tired of research, and I’m always listening to music, which constantly inspires me. I’d also say that visually I never get lazy, I’ll spend hours looking for new ideas and ways to be stimulated. Today we have everything in our hands, so there are no excuses.
When we came out in 2011, we immediately had good feedback. Our main interest was focusing on what we were passionate about, on what we consider beauty and worthy to talk about, rather than thinking about marketing strategies and positioning. We wanted to say something, and when you are honest, and stick to what you think and like, people resonate with it, it may take time, but it's the only rewarding, the only secret for a long lasting project.
DUST continually works with the best photographers, stylists, etc. in the industry. How did you all first get them involved and interested in DUST?
We started to work on this project seven years ago, and since then our effort has been to create a product that could be meaningful, could have high standards, and that could reflect an uncontaminated vision. This has made many people in the industry interested and motivated in working with us, most of them approached us directly. We didn't have to convince or brief anyone, the magazine itself has always been our business card.
What are some of the challenges of being a part of a newly founded publication?
The editorial world is a very challenging one. Hundreds of printed and online magazines are born every day and the competition is tough. The biggest challenge is for sure standing out from the crowd, being recognizable, well respected, and creditable.
I think what I’ve learned is that being loyal to your ideas means that it might take a bit longer to get to where you want to go, but it’s the only way that makes what you’re working on stand out.