G’day Lorenzo! I hope I’m not patronizing by greeting you the Aussie way. How about we start with a little bit of yourself?
Lorenzo: Hi! My name is Lorenzo Bocchi and I’m a self-taught, Award-Winning Interactive Art Director and also part of the Jury at CSS Design Awards since 2015.
I moved to Sydney from Italy last year and now I’m working as a Senior Art Director with the Friendly Agency.
At the end of 2015 I received the “Special Kudos” as Designer of the Year on CSS Design Awards. Over the last 5 years, I’ve worked with companies in Italy, Germany, United States and Australia. I’m an Art Director but can also fill the roles of Designer, Front-end Developer, Motion Designer and Photographer. My goal is to create unique experiences and to deliver custom Websites and Apps. My work encompasses Branding, Corporate Identity and Responsive Web Design. I also love to integrate Photography and a mix of Interactions and Animations.
What I want is to bridge the gap between Design & Development to create kick-ass interactive web experiences.
From a small town in Italy to Sydney, Australia, how has the journey unfolded so far?
Lorenzo: Moving to a new city is always a bit of a pain in the ass 🙂 Especially, if that city is on the other side of the planet.
When I moved over here, I had to transform my small business that managed around 100 clients and start working for a company. It was difficult, especially in the beginning with the linguistic and cultural barriers, but I’m more than happy I did it and there’s no turning back.
When I left Italy, I needed a change and here I’ve found what I was looking for. I love Sydney.
You did not attend any formal school for design or coding, how did you manage to teach yourself so nicely?
Lorenzo: I’ve always studied, a lot. When you don’t know something you can just Google it! I don’t have much confidence in traditional schools and courses, whereas online, you can take the best of the best and do your own research.
My approach to learning is pretty simple: I just observe and analyse. The idea is to “deconstruct” the best projects out there and try to understand what separates your work from them. As soon as you realise what’s missing in your work you can find out how to fill the gap.
I still have a lot to study and I have a very very very long list of things which I need and want to learn.
In your early days, you had to go through a lot. A normal guy must have just given up, but you held your shoulders high and became what you are today. What was it that kept you going?
Lorenzo: Well, I don’t give up easily. When I was younger, I used to be a professional water polo player, and I think this taught me a lot about commitment and hard work. Then I think it’s in my nature to keep trying until I reach my goals. When you grow up, you don’t just struggle with your career. There’s many other things to consider, such as money, family and future. There are a lot of restrictions around and it’s hard to keep everything together.
I started this job when I was quite “old” compared to most people. I was 24 and living with my girlfriend. I did many different things, from being a lifeguard to working as a photographer in a nightclub.
As soon as you realise what you want to do with your life, you just have to keep on trying, and failing. Failure is one of the most important parts of the process. The most important lessons come from your mistakes.
Your designs are well thought, modern and nicely executed, where do you get all the inspiration from? Or is it all right in your head?
Lorenzo: It’s all about research and inspiration. It’s a daily job and it’s a part of my routine. Every morning I check my Behance homepage, and create collections with the best designs out there, you can check it out if you want.
After screening the best of the static-2D visuals, I move to CSSDA and review the best in terms of code, animations and interactions.
This is the the way to keep my mind focused on what’s out there and keep me vigilant in terms of trends and technologies.
What is your design process like? How do you go about a new project?
Lorenzo: When I start a new project, my flow is always the same. After the brief with the client (or myself when it comes to my side projects) I define the main look & feel in my mind with keywords. For example: “For this client I want something fresh, clean, but at the same time corporate and contemporary”. As soon as I have these keywords in mind I transfer these ideas into design, defining styles, colours, fonts, etc.
After that, I go through all my collections on Behance and I take inspiration from all the projects. I do the same with CSSDA; reviewing website structures and interactions. With a bunch of ideas in mind, I start sketching on my iPad Pro and I put it all together. I define the key design elements and the common theme of the project, page structure, etc.
My rule is simple:
I never start designing with Sketch until I know exactly what the design is going to look like.
I’ve struggled a lot in the past with this. If I go straight into design, it gets messy pretty quickly. Sometimes, you realise things during the actual design process, so some tweaks are necessary, but nothing more than that. I used to dive directly into the design, but this gave me more problems than anything else.
It’s the same with code, animations and interactions. When I’m developing something new, I do it in a “clean environment” and I test it before implementing it into the actual website.
With this process, the final design is always very close to my original idea.
I won’t put you in a dilemma by asking you to chose your favorite project, instead tell us about the project that had most ups and downs and the learnings it gave you.
Lorenzo: I struggled a lot with my earliest projects, especially from a technical point of view. When you don’t know how to realise things, you can have a lot of issues. As soon as you are confident with techniques and software, it’s much easier. Your problems are confined just in the “creativity and design” areas.
The latest projects have been very smooth from that point of view. My approach is to keep learning and testing in my free time. As soon as I’m able to realise something new, I’ll use it in my next project.
This is my approach, especially with code. I’m constantly working on my own framework. In the last couple of years I’ve written a ridiculous amount of versions of it. It’s my playground and my testing area. As soon as things are tested, they are available for the next project. All my projects are based on my latest working framework and now with GitHub, it is much easier to maintain 🙂
You also giveaway some beautifully crafted freebies like Gumtree, Withings and Facebook OS X, what’s your motivation behind it? I suspect you’re a fellow believer of the idea of giving back to the internet, is it so?
Lorenzo: I actually am, I do believe in the power of the community, but that is not the only reason. The Freebies Project was born to connect many dots.
At the end of 2015, I decided to break away from many things and to build my foundation for the future.
There’s a strategy behind Freebies and it’s straight forward. One of my many goals for this year is to reach 100k views on Behance and I’m around 70k at the moment. I started with only 2k in January. I also wanted to publish at least 4 new websites to keep up my presence on CSSDA. In addition to this, I’ve started working with Sketch this year and I needed to do as much practice as I could.
So, with Freebies this was the goal: A new website to design and build, and 5 new design projects to publish on Behance + providing the Sketch files. I decided to redesign famous brands because I know that they are the most shared on these kind of platforms. I’ve also used “Pay with a Tweet” to maximise the exposure through Twitter.
From a code perspective, this year I’ve started playing with TweenMax, and similar to design, I just wanted to test few things with it.
Funny fact: When the new Apple TV came out, I remember spending almost an hour with my mate Matt Lerat (Awesome UX Designer from France) at the Friendly Agency, playing with the new cards on it. When I designed Freebies, I really wanted to simulate that super-cool interaction 🙂
You’re also a judge at CSS Design Awards, how did that happen? Are they also a fan of yours?
Lorenzo: When I received the email from them in March 2015 with the approval of my presence in the jury, I couldn’t believe it! I actually thought that they sent it to the wrong email address.
When I started out in 2011, a “Site of the Day” was something incredible to achieve so when they approved my presence in the jury I really couldn’t believe it!
This has been a great year for CSSDA and I’m proud to have been selected as a part of the new team that redesigned and rebuilt the new website CSSDA v6. Behind CSSDA there are amazing and passionate people working everyday for the design community.
You call 2016 as the year of Disruption and Turning Point of your career, what’s so special about it?
Lorenzo: From a portfolio perspective, I felt like I wasted an entire year (2015). Mostly because moving from a country (continent in my case) to another is incredibly time-consuming.
At the end of 2015 I realised that I didn’t want to keep showing the same projects over and over again. I thought, “I don’t like this stuff anymore, it’s time to move forward”. That is why the first thing I did was create a new website for myself.
According to my schedule, there’s still plenty left to do. I still have 2 Freebies to release (one coming out in few days), and I’m also working on something totally new. Here’s a sneak peek: FromDesignToCode.
The release date for FromDesignToCode is early October, so stay tuned!
I’ve also been asked to be a part of the jury of Digital Design Days 2016 – probably the biggest event in terms of Digital Design this year. Follow #DDD2016.
There’s another super-secret project that will hopefully be live by the end of the year, but I cannot say anything about that right now.
Your story has been truly inspiring, Lorenzo. What advice would you like to offer to the many Doers out there?
Build your own brand. These days, it’s the most important thing you can do. Be online and keep publishing projects. You can’t do better than what your skills allow you to do, but you need to constantly be visible to grow. Don’t wait until you are ready to publish the “perfect project” because that day will never arrive.
Multitask! Don’t just focus on one thing. Especially in the beginning you need to experiment with as many things as you can. There are no limits.
Rapid Fire Round
Trip down the Grand Canal in Venice or snorkeling with sharks in Sydney?
Snorkeling in Sydney (maybe trying not to become someone’s breakfast, if possible 🙂 )
Designers and Coders are like _____.
Best friends or worst enemies.
Suicide Squad, a hit or a miss?
Big miss. Great visuals, but incredibly poor content.
A babe in bikini is like _____ in ______.
Can’t answer to this. My girlfriend would kill me 🙂
Favorite sites on the internet?
Design can change ______.
World would be a better place if ______.
Comic Sans never existed.
Best rescue when girlfriend’s mad at you?
Romantic dinner facing the Opera House.
If not Designer, Lorenzo would be ______.
A metalcore Drummer!
Darshan is _______.
A passionate designer and a great blogger.
I’ve been following Lorenzo for quite some time now and one thing about him in particular that amazes me, is his dedication, passion and utter love towards what he does. He could’ve easily gone to rags from where he started, instead he became what he is today, he’s a true fighter. While the internet is going crazy over debating about Apple’s latest launches, Lorenzo is disrupting the internet by creating great experiences. I wish him all the good luck with that.
Check out Lorenzo’s super cool portfolio site at lorenzobocchi.com. You can also connect with him on Facebook, tweet him at @BocchiLorenzo, follow him on Instagram, read his Medium posts and visit his well-crafted portfolio on Behance.
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