Matteo Bologna
What difficulties did you face at the beginning of your career?
I was pretty lucky at the beginning. When I was 19, I started doing illustration work for magazines in my hometown of Milan, Italy. I was still living with my mother at the time, which meant no overhead, no need to rent studio space, and of course, good Italian meals.
I’ve always thought that anything that comes your way only helps you to get better, so I don’t have memories of any real hindrances at the beginning of my career. It also helped that Italians have very little design standards. Honestly, I sucked — but it didn’t matter to most of the people I worked with, because most of them sucked too (with a few exceptions).
What should a young designer do in order not to get hired by anybody?
I’m tempted to say that if you want to lose your chance of getting a job… stop showering. Then again, my thesis is amply refuted by the fact that Steve Jobs was notorious for his body odor at the beginning of his career, and was meeting his investors barefooted.
Due to the fact that very little personal interaction actually happens before a young designer lands an interview, I think we can skip personal hygiene and go directly to the real core of the matter: the portfolio.
I cannot speak for other companies, but if you DON’T want to land a job at Mucca, you should do the following:
— Send me a paper portfolio that is bulky and complicated to open, and usually costly to make, in both money and time.
— Send me a digital portfolio as a PDF that takes up hundreds of megabytes.
— Send me a PDF as a .zip file (the PDF is already compressed, you moron).
— Send me a huge PDF with a Dropbox link (I didn’t ask you to send me a portfolio, and you want me to use my time to look at your stuff?!).
— Have a poorly designed resume (if instead, you WANT to land a job at Mucca, my suggestion is to incorporate your resume at the end of your PDF presentation — so if I like your work but not your resume, then at least you had the chance to show me your work).
— Have a website with a navigation that makes me wander around the screen clicking on too many different places (the ideal web portfolio: a slideshow with simply a Next and Previous button. I know, I know — I’m lazy).
— Send me a cover letter as a separate PDF (if you REALLY want to get that job, write the cover letter in the body of the email with a couple of phrases that shows your deep knowledge of the work we do at Mucca).
— If the website says, “Send work inquiries to” and you send it to a completely different email address listed on our site.
Are there any things you wish you knew at the beginning of your career?
I wish I had studied type design under a real type designer, instead of learning it on my own. I also wish I had been more business-savvy.
Are there any rules or habits that help you do your job more efficiently?
Never complain that there is not enough time. Often a tight deadline and a good dose of adrenaline will make your design awesome.
Would you recommend some books that young designers might find useful?
I think the following titles are a bit old — I stopped reading books on design a long time ago — but I think that they still make for good reading:
Stop Stealing Sheep & Find Out How Type Works  by Erik Spiekermann and E.M Ginger, The Elements of Typographic Style  by Robert Bringhurst, Thinking with Type: A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Editors, & Students  by Ellen Lupton, How to Be a Graphic Designer Without Losing Your Soul  by Adrian Shaughnessy.
Matteo answered the questions on July 7, 2014.
The answers were published on July 9, 2014.