Diego Speroni: You need to have a true love and passion for what you do.
Hello Diego, you hold the #1 position among digital artists in the Lürzer’s Archive Ranking. In other words, no other digital artist has had their work featured in the pages of the magazine as often as you.
What did it take to get into pole position?
To be honest, this was never my endgame. I just focused day-by-day on doing my job as best as possible, focusing on color and detail, creating a style that would be my own, yet adaptable to different photography styles.
I tried to stay away from the latest trends and what everyone else was doing, and that I think is what made things fall into place for me.
I do remember more than two decades ago, while working at an ad agency, when I first saw a Lürzer’s Archive magazine and I thought how great would it be to have my work featured there someday? Little did I know what would come to happen years later.
Where do you come from originally, where do you live now?
I was born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina, I lived there most of my life. Since 2017, I have moved with my family, and we are now living in Madrid, Spain.
When did you first get interested in the field of digital art and photography?
Back in 1987, I bought my first personal computer, it was a Sinclair 2068 that operated on BASIC language, I started drawing very simple linear designs with it, and was immediately drawn into this new world that was just unveiled, we could say those were my first “digital art“ pieces.
Then in 1994, I bought my first PC-running Photoshop 2.5 and started experimenting with retouching. Back then everything was very new, slow and basic. Since then, as the software and technology evolved, I have never stopped experimenting, creating new workflows and techniques.With photography it was a different path. I was always involved with it because of my retouching and being constantly exposed to it while working with so many talented photographers. I was slowly drawn into it. I learned a lot just watching them work on set.
Some years ago, I really started to dedicate more of my time to shoot my personal work, and slowly started to put together a body of work that I’m now comfortable showing.
How long have you known Ale Burset, who’s a very frequent collaborator. When did you guys meet for the first time, and how?
It’s been over a decade now since Ale and I started working together. When I quit my agency job and started working independently, I was a bit burned out by the pace of advertising, so I focused on working mostly on fashion and editorial projects. It took several years before I slowly started to work on ad campaigns again.
By then I remember Ale was already on my radar. His lighting and pictorial style was very attractive to me, and I sensed the passion behind his work, I immediately knew we could be a great fit.
Fun fact: our first job together didn’t pan out the way we thought it would, but we bonded over our passion for lighting, color and detailed work, since then we have worked together on countless projects and have become good friends.
What would you say are the main characteristics a digital artist needs to have?
I think there are two main things to consider.
First, you need to feel a true passion and love for what you do. Dedicate many hours to it and enjoy the process, constantly evolving and pushing your boundaries to reach the desired results.
Second, yet not less important, is to create a profound visual and esthetic criteria. I always tell my students to observe everything around them, to find inspiration everywhere – in a museum, in movies, walking down a street, how is the sun reflecting on a building? Everything and anything can be a source of ideas for color, lighting, composition. Everything is there, right in front of you. If you train your eye and your mind, you can then apply it to your art.
Who are some to the artists that have influenced you and that you still admire?
That is a long long list that covers different eras and disciplines, from classics like Rembrandt, Caravaggio or Velazquez to Edward Hopper or Richard Estes. The aesthetic of directors like Wes Anderson or Tim Burton are also a great source of inspiration, as are great photographers like Peter Lindberg, Helmut Newton, Steven Klein, Eugenio Recuenco and many more.
Apart from Ale, who would be your dream collaborator – if you could choose any photographer alive or dead?
Some months ago I had the absolute pleasure of collaborating on a project with Eugenio Recuenco, whom I’ve always admired and desired to work with, so that happened! Another photographer I would love to work with is one of my all time favorites, Erwin Olaf.
How has the Covid-19 pandemic affected you and your work?
Logically, the volume of work has diminished, but not as much as I initially thought it would. What happened is that, because shooting on set is complicated at the moment, a lot of campaigns are being solved by composing and retouching existing images.
On the personal side, it has been very gratifying. I was contacted by an art gallery in Miami that is now representing my personal work in photography and illustration.
With the new normal of doing so much online now, I have been invited to participate in several online conferences and masterclasses. All this is very stimulating and I feel that it adds to my growth as a professional.
On the business side, I have started a representation for the US market, with a rep and digital producer based in Chicago. We just finished our first project together, the Burger King “Scary Places” Halloween campaign for Mullen Lowe.
What are some of your commercial projects you’re proudest of?
I would say the Lavazza campaign is one of my favorite projects, not only for the final results, but because I feel it was a turning point in my career. It was my first worldwide campaign for a big name brand, a huge production we shot in Milan, where everything worked out flawlessly. At the time I was already thinking about moving to Europe, and that project helped me make my mind up.
More recently, I worked on a worldwide campaign for Gatorade with Chiat Day, I was commissioned to illustrate Lionel Messi, Usain Bolt, Michael Jordan and Serena Williams. This was the first time I was hired to work on illustrations, which is a technique I love, but that I had only developed for my personal work up to that point.
Then there is my latest Halloween campaign for Burger King US with my friends at Mullen Lowe Boston. “Scary Places”, was a fun and beautiful project that, on the one hand, was challenging because of the timeline, but for which I was given a lot of creative freedom. I really love when the creative team has so much trust in my work and we have so much space for proposing ideas and making the project grow and bloom.
What inspires you for your work?
I draw inspiration from everything around me. As a kid, I took art classes where I found my fascination with drawing and painting, I loved landscape artworks. Pictorial images are always a main source of inspiration and I try as much as I can to make them part of my work.
Obviously photography (from all eras and styles), especially anything actually shot on film. I always try to give digital images a vague feeling of something from the analog world, either through color, texture, or both. But as I said earlier, I find inspiration everywhere – a still frame from a movie, the cinematic of a video game, wandering through the streets of European cities, from which I’ve drawn most of the images for my latest series of personal work.
How does Diego Speroni relax? How do you spend your spare time?
I’m actually very lucky in the fact that I find retouching images very soothing, but apart from that, I love to cook for my family and friends. I also find working on illustrations very therapeutic. I can spend over 100 hours to complete one artwork, so dedicating a few hours to it every week is very relaxing to me.
I also love to travel with my family, wandering around and getting lost in the streets of a new city is always a thrill to us. Hopefully we will all be able to do that again soon.