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Meet Stella Musi

Today we’d like to introduce you to Stella Musi.

Stella, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I grew up in Italy, in a really small town in the North East, immersed in nature and slow living.

Every summer my mum and I would travel with our Volkswagen van abroad for one month, visiting all the European countries; from remote camping areas in nature to cities with art and architecture. This made me grow up to be constantly inspired by other cultures, art and even more by the beauty of nature, from the northern Scandinavian landscapes to the blue seas of Greece. Travelling has taught me the importance of communication and that art and design are international languages. This philosophy led me on a journey between countries and cultures.

I completed my studies in Design in Milan and partially living in Brighton, one hour South of London. In both of these environments, I got in touch with an incredible number of creatives and amazing experiences. I have to admit that I was extremely confused about my future. At the time, I was studying Product Design and I thought Graphic Design was “too artsy” for me, that I wouldn’t be good enough at it. But Milan is also where I started my career in Graphic Design. For a few years after graduation, I worked there in the Art Direction of Events. It was a hectic experience but it helped me grow a lot and understand what my path was.

Once I landed in the US, I had the possibility to collaborate with several organizations, from Advertising to Education to Entertainment, and this gave me the opportunity of learning a variety of aspects of design.

So this is my story. It is a complicated journey, a road full of detours and weird turns, but what I kept going and going and all of these experiences added on my cultural baggage and created the artist and professional I am now.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It hasn’t been smooth at all, but if I look back at it I don’t feel like my journey was a struggle! All that happened and the hard work brought me where I am now and I couldn’t be here if things were any easier! There is no way to achieve success without hard work, that is the base of any achievement. You need to be able to forget about the goal and the money when you work, and just think about the project and do your best work, always. You need humility. You need to listen to your peers and who has done this for longer than you. If you are able to get naked of all the previous concepts that society instilled in you, you can be free and your obstacles will become a fun game. Just don’t take it too seriously and push through!

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I offer my services as a Graphic Designer and Art Director. I specialize in printed graphic design and motion graphics.

I worked in several agencies in Milan and Los Angeles that exposed me to notable clients and taught me how to handle projects with determination and professionalism. When working in this environment mistakes are not forgiven easily and you are required a lot of focus and steadiness. I was lucky to be trained and to collaborate with some of the brightest professionals in the world of visual communication and creativity and I learned how to be a good worker, before being a good designer.

As a designer, it is easy to get upset when your work is not understood or you are asked to do the million edit, but that’s what makes our job challenging: make the client happy, and deliver the best results even if we end up with something different from what we had in mind. I am not saying to say yes to everything, but you need to know when it’s time to listen and when it’s time to give your input.

I think this is what most differentiates me from other designers, the ability to collaborate with my clients and listen to their needs, try to absorb their essence instead of imposing my visual identity on them. I want to help my clients to find their own voice, I am just a tool to their needs. When I don’t think I can be helpful, I have the honesty of turning down a request.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
I would have followed that feeling in your guts. When I was in University, after the first year at the Product Design course, my gut was telling me to transfer to Graphic Design. I had this feeling that Graphic Design was my path. I didn’t transfer. I decided to finish Product Design to avoid “wasting” time and credits. Years later, I found myself working as a Graphic Designer, and I never practiced Product Design in my life.

I don’t like to live my life in the shadow of “what ifs”, but that definitely taught me to listen to my intuition. I have to admit I still take most of my decisions with my rationality because it can be scary to go down an unknown path. But we should always choose courage over comfort.

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