Lead designer at 72andSunny Amsterdam
, Matteo Galinelli shares his passion for bringing ideas to life and figuring out how to make things as good as they can be. Born and raised in Rome, he was exposed to Italian culture and the creativity that went along with it. Having spent the majority of the last decade in Amsterdam, he keeps himself immersed in all the new aspects of the advertising industry.
Matteo Galinelli describes his childhood self as “a pretty active kid, very curious and always in motion”, continually challenging both himself and his parents with his energy. While Matteo mentions that nothing in his childhood would obviously suggest he’d end up in advertising, he says he’s “always been into challenging the status quo of things and how people see stuff.” He continues, “I’ve never liked to do things that people have done before, even if you risk making something that isn’t fully understood. It’s not necessary that everyone understands all the time.”
With his curiosity and drive as an active child, Matteo naturally became a sports enthusiast, swimming semi-professionally, becoming a black belt in Taekwondo and playing football, which he still frequently keeps up with. He says, “I like how sport can have a positive influence on your life and how it makes you approach life too. It makes you see things differently and understand that there is always a way to get where you want to get. You just gotta keep trying.”
Matteo describes his creative background as ‘pure visual and design’, honed through his graphic design studies as well as finding new ways to develop his craft. At school, Matteo studied classics, ancient Greek, Latin, literature and history, which he says very much broadened his general knowledge but also his aesthetic preferences. His knowledge, however, wasn’t limited to what he learned in the classroom as he became a self-taught 3D artist in the interim between leaving his initial degree and deciding to pursue a more arts-based course.
While Matteo describes his upbringing in a ‘normal family’, what’s clear are the ‘the pillars of life and respect for others’ that were instilled in his values from a young age. He reflects on how not being exposed to ‘fancy things’ gave him a sense of appreciation and he says, “coming from nowhere taught me the art of listening and observing everything around me to make sure to create a chance for myself to succeed in something, but also to give space for other people to express themselves.” Which he values as an extrovert who equally appreciates the space needed to freely express yourself.
It was self-expression and creative freedom that Matteo craved as he stepped away from his initial degree, longing for a less academic and more experimental, design-based environment. “I’ve always loved using design software, making matte paintings in Photoshop and creating small visual identities and t-shirts for friends, but never thought that I could really make it my career. It was when I signed up to the Academy of Arts in Rome, that I started understanding that maybe it was the right thing for me.”
Once he completed his creative course, Matteo wound up at Y&R in Milan and while it taught him a lot, he wasn’t the biggest fan of the formulaic nature of Italian advertising. He says, “I can't do things that are too much formulated, I need space and freedom to express myself and have room to try stuff. Make mistakes and then do the right thing, if there is a right thing.” It was at Y&R that he experienced his first professional project, Google, Les Heures Magiques. “I was quite new in the industry and it was a pretty complex project to work on since there were loads of deliverables and the more senior people on it had to move on producing something else, so I had to figure out quite many things on my own. It was fun, but very challenging. I would do it all over again. I learned a lot.”
After this, in 2013, 72andSunny Amsterdam got in contact with Matteo and he was ready to pursue something different. “So I decided to take on the opportunity and move myself, my six-month-old son and my partner over here. The agency was amazing at organising everything for us and making it feel as smooth as possible. I’m still here.” Matteo also went on to explain how he continually hones his craft and this largely comes from people he’s worked with in the past. “I’ve had the chance to work with many amazing people from this industry, writers, designers, creative directors, animators and directors and from each one of those people, I try to take something from and bring it with me in my journey.”
Part of being in the creative industry is using your curious mindset to evolve through experiencing and learning how to use new technology. Matteo says, “I’ve always been pretty curious about different software and try to learn as much as possible about design, animation and the whole process around the creative industry. Once you know it inside out, you are in a much better position to hone your craft and get the most out of the people around you.” Matteo also mentions his former manager, Simon Schmidt, as a real inspiration for how he’s adapted the way in which he works. “He really opened my eyes to the industry and how you should never stop fighting your corner and always trying to make sure your work is at the very best it can get. He really made me start caring a lot for everything I do. He taught me the hard way, but I’ve learned.”
Reflecting on the best aspects of his role, Matteo considers he also loves working with directors, fleshing out the production process and the initial creative development stages. “How you set up the work sets the standard for how good it can become. It takes time to understand it. And you have to learn it the hard way as you grow up.”
Challenges for Matteo come in the form of getting too attached to work he’s done in the past. His emotional investment can be difficult to let go of, but through time and years of experience, he reminds himself of how projects continuously come and go. “Things in this industry are very volatile, they exist for a certain amount of time and then they disappear. What I’ve done, is done, can’t be changed, so it’s better to let it live as long as it has to live and die whenever it has to.” Matteo also finds frustration with over-referencing rather than focusing on authentic craft and exploring new ideas. “There isn’t much patience and I think that gets in the way of the good work. Craft is not finishing something, craft is the whole process and the agencies that still manage to value the real craft are the ones that are still making a difference in the industry and that will keep doing so. Crafting something simple can be much more valuable than crafting something too cerebral.”
Aside from the advertising industry, Matteo has other interests, “I love video games and the whole video game industry. Much of my inspiration and love for craft comes from there.” And much like the rest of us, TikTok has become a pastime for Matteo to find content and see how people use their creative freedom. “It’s a great place for people to express themselves. But it’s also full of shit. Sometimes I have a lot of fun looking at how pointless people can be nowadays. And how much we celebrate nonsense.” He’s also kept up with his footballing, playing twice a week and continuing to keep up with physical pursuits by going for a run whenever he can. While 2022 has only just started, Matteo is eager to also use his spare time to get back into software such as ZBrush, to pick up where he left off and hone that skill.
Most importantly, Matteo says, “I’m still working on trying to make my son a decent human being. And I’m trying to write some short films that I would love to shoot in the next year or the following one. And yes, go back and find time for my CGI stuff.” He finishes with the reason he found advertising and why he’s still in the industry, “I really like my job. It can be very frustrating at times, but no matter what, I always try to keep myself ready for a new challenge.”