I defy anyone to visit the Sic Est Vimeo channel and not spend far, far, longer than they intended sitting dumbfounded as the most brilliant, surreal, and frankly bizarre moving image works scroll in front of their confused little eyeballs. The exploding pig made of what appears to be its own bacon; the schlumpy, squishy bread, falling in delicious slow motion; the half-banana, half-whale confection! As you might have noticed, it’s very easy to enjoy this work, but somewhat harder to describe it.
Sic Est is the professional moniker of Domenico Tedone, who works in motion graphics, art direction, and sound design from his base in Potenza, southern Italy. He’s recently retuned to his home city after spending four years living and working in L.A., where he went for an English course and stayed for the “creative atmosphere.” He then went to Milan before landing back in Potenza to freelance from a more rural environment. “I’ve found contact with nature crucial for inspiration,” he says, citing playing jazz piano and listening to “New Age music—the weirder the better” as other touchstones for reaching optimal creativity. He’s an unusual chap, it seems, befitting of the superbly unusual work he makes.
It’s hard not to ask that most clichéd of questions with work that’s so baffling and original, but where on earth does he get his ideas? “I think inspiration indirectly comes from so many things; like reading a Saroyan book—I love books, I’m old school—a jazz piece, just staying in the middle of a wood doing nothing, or it can arrive after a good dense espresso, or talking with inspiring people.
I’ve found loneliness a big luxury nowadays, I think loneliness can bring us so many positive things, if we know how to ‘deal’ with it.
Tedone is currently working with mainly local clients, having made the move from focusing on illustration and graphic design to 3D and motion graphics. These works are created predominantly with Cinema4D and Octane Rendering, and Tedone is also starting to learn Houdini, which he describes as being “as powerful as it is tricky.” Most of the graft happens on screen, but Tedone says that “if I have an idea, say in the middle of the night, I’ll try to remember until the morning, then do a rough storyboard, and then straight into Cinema to make some mock-ups.
“This happens 80% of the time. For the other 20% I’d say that things happen by accident, especially while I’m playing with new tools on a program.”
His projects run the gamut of creative freedom and client restriction, from music videos, to more straight-down-the-line work with a company that specializes in 3D scans of food (hence the bread, I guess).
So what makes a dream project? Apparently it’s down to three main factors, “a well educated client with taste,” says Tedone. “I know taste is a subjective thing but I think it is so only up to a point, otherwise design and stuff like that wouldn’t exist or wouldn’t be taught.” The other two factors are clients that allow him to create his own sound design, and those that pay fairly. “I think the concept of cost is a big mess at the moment,” he says. “Many designers are very, very cheap with their clients and that ‘ruins’ the whole system, but I guess that’s the market.
It’s important to educate clients to make them understand that a motion graphic designer is like an architect or an engineer—they invest so much time in what they do, it’s not like you just push a button or two and voilà, the video is done.