Portraits, caricatures, editorial, maps, patterns, animation… with skills as versatile as those of Mario Zucca, you can end up working in so many different ways. However, if there’s one thing this Philadelphia artist excels at it’s creating massively detailed environments where hundreds of different characters are doing a whole range of things. You’ll stare and stare at one of his images, drawn in by the artist’s subtle jokes, Easter eggs and the sheer amount of activity going on.
And Mario is nothing if not an active illustrator. Vastly experienced, he’s worked for major publishers, broadcasters, agencies, corporations and even sports leagues around the world. Raised on a diet of Marvel Comics, and later influenced by somewhat crazier cartoonists such as R Crumb, Daniel Clowes and Charles Burns, becoming a freelance illustrator was a natural move for Mario.
Today, Mario is inspired by diversity, and it’s something that’s reflected in his images. Different ages, ethnicities, socio-economic groups, fashions and hairstyles all live together in his artwork, and this variety carries on into the architecture, machinery and environments he draws.
After earning a BFA in Graphic Design from the Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia, Mario picked up an MFA in Illustration from the University of Hartford.
Digital, traditional – Mario takes the best from both worlds in his creative process. Sketching starts off digitally, where he can edit, scale and quickly combine elements to form his composition. Transferring to Bristol board, he fills out the image using brushes and pens. Finally, the inked artwork is scanned in for colour retouching.
Mario works in a diverse range of mainly comic-inspired styles – some graphic, and some more nuanced. If anything, his motto is ‘more is more’ so the work he enjoys most is creating vast landscapes where entire communities of characters are interacting, often in interesting and unusual ways.
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