One of Andrea Dell’Anna’s posters bears both his design skills and his poetic ones: “the voice of things/ eating power/ loses interest.” Cryptic as it may read, it’s about a phenomenon almost any designer would recognize: the request to come to a client meeting with three options at the ready. “Every designer in the world is asked to come up with three options for everything he does,” Dell’Anna tells me. “The more you produce, the more you’re asked to do the same thing, the more you lose interest in what you’re doing.” Elsewhere on the poster, the connection is more explicit—the phrase “three options” appears in large, emphatic type, before getting wavier and less certain slinking down the page.
Dell’Anna, an Italian designer now based in London, created the poster after freelancing and working for various agencies and studios in both countries, and being asked to produce three options for any number of clients: an airport in Sicily with Steer Davies Gleave, a Saudi Arabian marketing festival for Turquoise Branding, an identity for the Bianchi 1770 Group while at Künstler Studio in Rome.
On the side, Dell’Anna has kept up a steady stream of compelling poster designs—some of which, as we’ve seen, vent his frustrations from the other side of his design work. A second example is titled “Keep knocking: the art of not giving up” (though the letterforms that hug a chunky red line along the border of the poster actually read “Keep Knocking You Can Not Come In”). “This was when I was in the process of redesigning my website, and I was sending a lot of cold emails,” Dell’Anna says. “I was getting tons of answers from people who were saying ‘Your work is great, but we’re already covered.’”
The poster takes a satirical angle on an experience that anyone who’s endured the tediousness and emotional exhaustion of a job search knows all too well. As Dell’Anna says, “Don’t give up, keep knocking, but anyways you can not come in to work.”
At any rate, Dell’Anna did keep knocking. Now he runs his own studio called Andrea Deor—his last name replaced by his graffiti tag when he was a teenager. With his new studio—a one man operation—Dell’Anna takes on a lot of client work, so he’s still quite cozy with those “three options.” But he also maintains a steady production of personal projects, which he’s found is essential for striking a healthy balance professionally.
“Those are things that will satisfy you,” he says, “whereas branding is always business related, so a bit more restrictive… But really, I like challenging projects, so if something like a business challenge comes up, I get really excited about it, too—anything that triggers me as a creative thinker.”
Dell’Anna grew up in Lecce, in a small town in the south of Italy, before moving to Rome to study graphic design. As a teenager in Lecce, Dell’Anna found a talent and passion in graffiti, which he credits with leading him to a career in art and graphic design rather than law like his brother or accounting like his parents. “Thinking about what I was doing back then with my mates at 14, I can now see a close relationship to what I’m doing now,” he says. “A lot of graffiti is designing letters—it’s why I believe that I became interested in typography.”
After graduating from university, Dell’Anna stayed in Rome for two years to work full time for Künstler Studio, a small operation of three that takes on mostly business-to-business projects, like branding for the Bianchi 1770 Group. At the end of his two year contract, he moved to Milan to work in advertising, but quickly determined that the industry wasn’t his thing. It’s now been four years since moving from Milan to London, during which time he’s managed to transition from freelancing for agencies in-house to taking on clients under his own studio. Most of those clients come in through references or social media, or through collaborations with friends from school who also run their own studios.
In London, Dell’Anna says he’s found that more people are attuned to good design than in Italy; even non-designers have an appreciation for it, he reckons, and design is bigger business than compared to Rome or Milan. “In Italy [design is] more related to art, which is also something I really appreciate,” he says. “I carry that sort of thing with me: when I tackle a project, I still believe that beauty is part of design.
“I can see a lot of designers now who are starting to design ugliness on purpose, or that kind of anti-design design. I don’t believe in that. In Italy we are taught that beauty is a part of communication.”
Recently, Dell’Anna has taken on a commission that marries his interests in branding projects and more art-related work, and brings in a bit of his poster-making expertise to boot. For Wop Wop, a music festival located in the south of Italy, he’s designed three posters: two that are black and white, and a little Swiss—beautiful, but very much subdued. With the third, he brought in a lot of personality to showcase the bands in the festival lineup. “It’s really funky and jazzy,” he says. “I think that one comes from the graffiti world.”