On this final episode of Wellfed season 4 my guest is New England based artist and illustrator, Chris Delorenzo. I would describe Chris's work as whimsical, clever and abstract. It is truly an example of letting your mind explore ideas fully and not letting the conventions of life bog you down in the process. His approach to creating work and experience has allowed him to collaborate with brands like Apple, Airbnb, GoDaddy, the New York Times, Target, and many more. Chris is truly a sincere guy and during this episode we discussed life starting off in the creative industry, working for one of his local heroes, mother nature's wifi, and how his work life has changed now since the pandemic. After a few months off I am so proud to share with you final episode of Wellfed season 4 with my guest Chris Delorenzo.
[00:00:00] Jon Sorrentino: Welcome to Wellfed, a podcast for hungry creatives. I'm your host, Jon Sorrentino, a designer based out of New York and on this podcast, I speak to some of my creative heroes to learn from their experiences and discover the ingredients to grow within the creative industry.
On this final episode of Wellfed season 4 my guest is New England based artist and illustrator, Chris Delorenzo. Chris if you're listening to this, I'm sorry it took so long. I would describe Chris's work as whimsical, clever and abstract. It is truly an example of letting your mind explore ideas fully and not letting the conventions of life bog you down in the process. His approach to creating work and experience has allowed him to collaborate with brands like Apple, Airbnb, GoDaddy, the New York Times, Target, and many more. Chris is truly a sincere guy and during this episode we discussed life starting off in the creative industry, working for one of his local heroes, mother nature's wifi, and how his work life has changed now since the pandemic. After a few months off I am so proud to share with you final episode of Wellfed season 4 with my guest Chris Delorenzo.
Before we get into the episode, I just want to share a few things with you first. If you want to stay up to date with the podcast, you can head over to wellfedpodcast.com, where I have all the episodes as well as videos and articles with tips for creatives, just like you.
Second for this season, I just launched a slack group that you can join by going to wellfedpodcast.com/community. There you can share work and connect with other designers, illustrators, and photographers from all over.
Last, but not least I'm doing free one-on-one portfolio reviews over zoom for anyone that signs up for the newsletter on the website, wellfedpodcasts.com. I've already had a few of these with listeners and we've talked about things like getting more clients, ways to present your work on your website and a bunch of other topics.
All you have to do is sign up for the newsletter over at wellfedpodcast.com. Now that we've got that out of the way, I hope you enjoy this episode.
Chris Delorenzo. Thank you so much for joining me on this episode of wealth fed. Um, as with most of my guests, I have been looking, observing, you know, consuming your work for a while now, and I love it.
I think it's, it's your style is for some reason, I just really aligned with it. I love the way you work with brands. I love the creativity that you bring to your work. And so, uh, I knew I had to have you as I think this is even going to be the last episode of the season. So I'm very excited to be wrapping the season up with, uh, with you as my guest.
So thank you for joining me today.
[00:02:01] Chris Delorenzo: Honor, to be here.
[00:02:04] Jon Sorrentino: Um, Chris, we before every episode, especially because we're now doing this over zoom and I used to do this over pers in-person. Uh, I like to start off each episode with what I'm calling five questions and 50 seconds, and now there's no real time limit here.
So feel free to expand if you have any, any stories or anecdotes that you'd love to share. And if you're ready, I'll go ahead and ask the first question.
[00:02:26] Chris Delorenzo: Ready.
[00:02:28] Jon Sorrentino: All right. If you had to give up bread or cheese, what would it be?
[00:02:31] Chris Delorenzo: I'm thinking cheese. Um, you know, as we get older, our bodies don't digest the dairy very well and come from Italian background.
So I like, I like some bread I can dip in some, into some olive oil, you know, before dinner.
[00:02:47] Jon Sorrentino: Absolutely. Absolutely. Italians do bread really well. Uh, what is your sign?
[00:02:53] Chris Delorenzo: Um, like the surfer symbol, um, before, uh, if you're
[00:02:59] Jon Sorrentino: horoscope horoscope,
[00:03:01] Chris Delorenzo: if you're speaking astrologically, um, uh, cancer, uh, crab,
[00:03:06] Jon Sorrentino: you were the first guest, you're the first guest to completely go in another direction there, which I enjoy, which is great.
[00:03:15] Chris Delorenzo: Cat, the dog dog. I'm allergic to cats. They've been my arch enemy for my whole life.
[00:03:23] Jon Sorrentino: If you could eat one thing everyday for the rest of your life, what would it be?
[00:03:27] Chris Delorenzo: Um, my dad's big ZD. He makes it makes great big city never gets old leftovers, fresh, everything.
[00:03:37] Jon Sorrentino: Last question, Spotify or apple music?
[00:03:40] Chris Delorenzo: Um, I'd say Spotify, but if we're talking serious talk audio, we got to bring Rdio back.
[00:03:49] Jon Sorrentino: Whoa, this is a, this is a first and I'm going to ask my, I'm going to ask my editor, Kevin, to put in some like air horns here, because I've never even heard of Rdio. Could you please explain?
[00:03:59] Chris Delorenzo: Rdio was kind of, it, it started around the same time with Spotify and Spotify kind of just like blew up. It took over and Rdio couldn't compete, but it was very similar, but the way it curated and allow.
Um, uh, friends and like social networking on it was really cool and very, it was very, design-y like the most simplest, easy to use interface. Um, it was like any designer I feel like would prefer audio over Spotify because it was so clean and it really updated you with new music every Tuesday. When back when the new music was every Tuesday.
It was very simple on like these, these are the new songs and it wasn't. So like Spotify is like, um, how. It's a lot of independent artists or unheard of like trap house music that just shows up as like, you know, hot 100 kind of stuff. It was very, yeah. This is music that people actually listened to rather than was promoted or paid by a record label to promote, you know, um, or very cool.
It was anymore. I dunno.
[00:05:05] Jon Sorrentino: Yeah. No, that's, that's cool. I'm going to have to take a look into it because I think, you know, as you mentioned, like it's a very design centric and of course, like being a designer myself and be like all about that. So that's, that's very cool. First here on the podcast, bring back RTO, um, bring back Rdio.
So, so Chris you're currently based in Massachusetts, correct. Did
[00:05:25] Chris Delorenzo: you grow up in that area? Um, I'm actually living in the town I grew up in right now. I moved back here. I didn't expect you, but my wife and I found a house that we liked and it's north of Boston. Um, And it's a gorgeous town on paper, you know, I'm like, okay, this is a town that we're looking for to start a family.
Um, this has it all. And I was like, okay, well, my, my wife's not from here. So she's like, I love this. And I was like, yeah, but I'm from there. I don't want to move back, but we did share the town I grew up in, you know, it's obviously it's been like 25 years since.
[00:06:06] Jon Sorrentino: Yeah. Some people have moved out it's there, there's still some like locals hanging around that.
You're like, oh, Hey, I remember when we were, you know, when I was
[00:06:12] Chris Delorenzo: a kid. Yeah. Like I run some like my next door neighbors, um, mom, you know, at like the bagel shop the other week and it's like, oh, it's so nice that you're here. Like I can see you. And, uh, remember me.
[00:06:25] Jon Sorrentino: Sure. Yeah. When you, when you were younger, growing up in, in, in your hometown where you sort of like naturally like gravitating towards.
Being creative and things like that, you know, like what were you like during school and kind of like those preliminary, preliminary years?
[00:06:39] Chris Delorenzo: Um, the town I grew up in was very creative. Um, it's very cool town where like the stoners hang out with the jocks and like the musicians are like the cool kids rather than like the sports players, you know, it's, it was a very cool fluid, um, kind of social environment.
And I mean, like since day one, it was always drawing. Um, Uh, entering like contests, like at the, at the, at the market basket grocery store where it's like, you know, holler in the scarecrow and when a huffy bike, you know, me like, and trying to enter that never won though. Um, they're regretting it now. Right.
And then, you know, mostly like kind of really fostered in high school when it. Um, other kids that also were creative, um, cause you'd go in your, your middle schools. We have a bunch of schools in my town and they kind of all, um, Congregate in high school. And so you go, oh, those are like the west kids. And those are the east side kids.
Now they're all here in high school. And so I was always like the art kid in my schools. And then I met the other art kids from the other schools, you know, and we combined, and, uh, I played lots of music, um, was in like art club and was always drawing. I took outside art lessons and then I started in high school.
I kind of taught the art lessons or. Um, like a TA to my teacher, who it was just like a woman in town over who had a painting studio in her basement and taught kids. And I would help out the kids. It was a lot of fun. She was
[00:08:14] Jon Sorrentino: like, this kid, Chris has got something, he's got something
[00:08:17] Chris Delorenzo: and you know, that's very cool.
Our school really. Uh, creativity and kids and being like, do you guys want to put on a show or do something? Um, we had a TV production studio, which was really fun. And so like making music videos and all kinds of art anyways, not even drawing like, um, my friend put on a rock opera. In high school, like a legit rock up.
I wrote the songs. He cast the people from the drama department. He got a letting studio who like did Eve six, um, like, uh, con writing and like the stage. And so, you know, making, um, uh, set designs and stuff for that, that's all kinds of stuff. It was it, there was always a project. That's
[00:09:00] Jon Sorrentino: very cool. So it sounds like a very fruitful childhood in, like you said, just trying so many different things, obviously drawing I'm sure is sort of the underlining kind of focus, but you were able to kind of like be exposed to all of these like different mediums
[00:09:13] Chris Delorenzo: and stuff like that.
Yeah. It was never just one thing and then get out of town, you know, it's all kinds of sure. Yeah.
[00:09:20] Jon Sorrentino: Coming out of high school, did you know. Did you have a sense of what you were going to do? Is it like apply to art school? Like, you know, what, what was that kind of process for you? Because for me, you know, it was crazy.
Like I had no, no way.
[00:09:31] Chris Delorenzo: Yeah. I definitely wanted to be in the creative arts in some way. Um, I didn't know what that was. I really was into film and I wanted to be like a storyboard designer, just, um, composing shots, more like cinematography. I love that. Um, and then, so I didn't want to go to like, but I also didn't want to go to a true art school.
Um, I don't know why it was mostly because I didn't want to do just art. I wanted exposure. I wanted to meet other people who weren't like weird. Um, Um, indoor kind of, uh, I'm sure. You know, kids like me, I want to meet like totally random people. Totally. No,
[00:10:10] Jon Sorrentino: no. I, I
[00:10:10] Chris Delorenzo: felt the same way. And that was like the impression you have in high school.
Like you're going to art school. It's just going to be kids wearing black and like carrying their portfolios around. And I was like, ah, I want something else. Um, but you know, I was just a small town kid. Didn't really know. I mean, obviously our school was a very varied and really great schools, but I really liked the university atmosphere when I went to go tour and, uh, ended up going to Syracuse up in upstate New York.
[00:10:37] Jon Sorrentino: Yeah, Syracuse, right. Like the perfect school to not just go to an art school. Right. Little, but little did we know? Right. Like after, I mean, for me, at least, like after a couple of years of being at a regular school with an art school, you totally turn into that. Like art kid. Who's like, guys, I gotta go like hunker down in the studio for a couple hours and like, you know, football games or whatever can wait, you know?
[00:10:58] Chris Delorenzo: Um, I have roommates like my junior year, they were friends of mine like that. Weren't art majors and that was so great. Uh, they're like a poly PSI. Um, and we would be like hanging out in the, in the common room and then I'd be like, okay, I gotta go, you know, into my room and work on a self portrait or something.
And they would always make that joke. This is around the time, like wedding Crashers, that movie. Um, yeah. And there was the. There is the, the brother of one of the girls. And he was kind of this weird art kid. And he would always go in my room painting, and then they would just always yelled at to me like, oh, I'll be in my room painting.
And I'm like, guys, it's serious work
[00:11:41] Jon Sorrentino: guys. I have to like creatively think deeply here, leave me alone. Yeah. I had the same thing where all the finance major friends and they were like, oh, you just draw all day. And I was like, listen, this isn't easy, man.
[00:11:52] Chris Delorenzo: And then it was great. And towards senior year when I was with all creative people in one.
And it was just like nonstop, like everyone's working and, um, you know, as it was, it was really great. That's
[00:12:04] Jon Sorrentino: cool. So what was sort of your focus in the program? I think I kind of saw that you did like communications design, which is, you know, sort of close to what you're doing now, but I I'm sure it was sort of a different fundamentals and, and things that they were teaching.
[00:12:17] Chris Delorenzo: Yeah. Communications design. It was very cutthroat. Like it was notorious in the visual and performing arts school within the Syracuse, um, that it was like, you know, half the people get weeded out on their first year. They won't, they won't make it to the second year. So it was very intimidating in that way.
And when you're talking to people, because you do foundation your first year that you pick your major, your sophomore. And so that was kind of a turning point of like, what do I do? Illustration painting, film, communication, design. And then, um, and so I ended up doing that because it ha it encompassed everything.
And you know, you do hard work and you build brands and you build campaigns. Um, but you, you think holistically, which was really cool. It wasn't just about here's how to use Photoshop and make cool graphics. It was, why are you making cool graphics? And if you want to make a cool graphic figured out yourself, we're not going to teach you, but we will agree.
Totally. You end up making. Um, so we didn't really have a computer arts class, like, um, we just would try to learn ourselves and he, you know, oh, someone Tim over there found out. You know, turn a shape into this thing and on illustrator, like, and we all go to town like Tim, how do you do that?
[00:13:43] Jon Sorrentino: Yeah, I think it's kind of, I think programs like that are really awesome because I agree that like holistic it's like design and some of, you know, working in that stuff.
Is more about the why, right. It's about asking the questions. And I find a lot of the time, like on, through social media and mostly through social media, that like, there's such a focus on like, check out how to do this cool effect. And it's like, when are you going to use that at times? You know, like one really is that practical to do like this crazy 3d thing, unless it's for yourself, you know, which is totally fine.
But if you're working in that practical environment, it just, it seems like. Far
[00:14:17] Chris Delorenzo: step away where it gives you the answers before the problem. It's like, well, here's how to make a wiggly man, um, and animation. And you're like, okay, cool. I'm going to use that for next project that doesn't even ask for a weekly man.
Or like may not even have a use, but I know how to use it. So I'm going to put it in there rather than being like, what does this project need? And then making a new thing you're going to,
[00:14:40] Jon Sorrentino: yeah. Did you going into communication design? Did you have sort of. That moment where you're like, well, painting might be a little tough or cause I was a painter growing up and I felt like, you know, at some, when I had to make a decision to like, think a little bit ahead and like, okay, how, what am I going to do for a job?
You know, all that anxiety. And so I ended up picking design, which I love, you know, which I'm thankful for, but I kind of had that moment. I'm curious if you had sort of a similar,
[00:15:07] Chris Delorenzo: similar time, the, the, the gossip, you know, or a rumor about. Um, you know, picking your major was like, well, what are you going to do for a job?
Like after, if you do anything else, besides communication design, those kinds of like people that were just unsure. And it was a very reliable, like, okay, I can get a job somewhere in a field with this education. Right. I'm just a painter. I don't know how to do anything else. Um, and so, yeah, it's definitely the, there's the art, like the, the pure art part that was within all of us.
That's like, well, I just do want, just do painting and I don't want to care about a job and promotions and things. And, but then you kind of like what you're you're way into too. And it's, it was, it was, it was very tough. I think it's the better decision for me, because I am more into a bigger picture. Um, the ideas, um, and the executions kind of like a second thought to me, whereas painting, it's like all about execution, like how you paints, like what you, what you do with the paint.
Um, and I just was more about like, you know, Conceptualizing rather than like, just putting on a smock and just getting to work for like nine hours a day and just painting a painting. I need more,
[00:16:27] Jon Sorrentino: I totally agree with that. Um, it's almost like the, because I, I look at people in the. Who have this like amazing background in painting or amazing background in film, whatever, but they are able to apply their work in a commercial setting or things like that, you know, because everyone has to get by somehow.
And it's almost like the curriculum at some point should be. You can pick your major. You can go into painting this, that photography, whatever, but like the underlying curriculum should almost be communication focused. If you choose to one day, you know, be more commercial or, you know, or if not, at least you have that to kind of fall back on,
[00:17:02] Chris Delorenzo: potentially.
Yeah. Yeah. It's um, giving those artists like more, um, opportunities or the idea of potential, like rather than. You know, make a body of work and show it at a gallery. It's giving a, having a painting class and like cross crossing that with the communication design class could open up their world. Like, oh, I can actually apply painting in this way, in that way.
But although I've been out of college for, um, yeah, like 13 years now or so. And so it's, um, I don't know what they do. I don't know what they do. They probably do that. Um, because I would have loved a, like a business class in our school that would have been amazing. I think they're trying to implement that more now because it's just a big pitfall that is not there.
[00:17:56] Jon Sorrentino: By the end of this episode, we may be business partners. You know, I'm feeling like we have a great idea, great concept here, um, coming out of school. So, so, you know, you go through this program, um, and, and let's kind of fast forward a little bit, you know, like another really big anxious point for a lot of students for a lot of creatives, like coming out of a program, it's like, what do you do next?
Right? Like what was sort of your situation? What did you have in mind? You know, what were you going to do? Cause you were in Syracuse, grew up Massachusetts. Um, you know, like what's the
[00:18:26] Chris Delorenzo: plan was, so you work your senior year towards the big portfolio day, um, which is like you, do you work on six projects throughout the year and they stem from you.
Come up with an idea, a concept. Like, um, a solution to a problem that you found in the world and you come up with a logo, an identity, a name, come up with a campaign. You come up with like the packaging design, you come up with whatever it is, um, the brochure, the magazine. Um, and so you make six projects like that, uh, three every semester.
And then those go into your portfolio and then your, our teachers would take those down to New York city and they would contact. All of these art directors from the city, from all areas around New York city. And there could be like they could be alumni. That could be just people that they've met. Um, people that have worked for agencies.
And now, um, you know, I've always heard about the Syracuse portfolio show. And so we sent it, we sent our work down there and people, all these art directors go through it. And usually that is like, what you bank on? You're like an art director is going to see my work. They're going to. They're going to write down their, like their name, their email, like call me when you graduate kind of thing, which like, happens.
Like that's what they do. They're like, this is great stuff. Give me a call. Um, you you're like, oh my God. I'm chosen, but, you know, chosen. Yeah. Um, and like, you know, bet. Oh, like Sarah, she got like three art directors. Want her to call them like, you know, or Tim is doing awesome. Like he got like five different agencies.
It was, um, so it was, had a really good turnover and that's why, um, like Syracuse and people go to that program for that. And so I was kinda just banking on that. And so I got, um, Um, emails and numbers and I had reached out. So, uh, after I graduated, I took my portfolio and met with those people. Um, some in Connecticut, some in New York city and kind of got a feel and did job interviews, um, based on initial them RTC in my work.
I'd rather than like, kind of like a cold call. And so I made a decision and, um, took a job at Saatchi and Saatchi X, which is a division of Saatchi and Saatchi. And, um, yeah, so I started there like in July, right after I graduated. So I was home for like a month and then packed up and, um, moved to New York and slept on friend's friend's couches while I had like a junior art director job.
[00:21:00] Jon Sorrentino: Damn. That's awesome. That's so cool. So, I mean, It sounds like, I mean, it sounds a little bit like a crapshoot, right. In the sense that, um, you know, you're just kinda like putting it out there, like most of what we do, right. You put it out there and you hope someone likes it. And I think, I think that's so it's still so funny how that, how that works, but it works.
Um, but then to end up at Saatchi and Saatchi, like super big company, like super well known. That's crazy. I also want to mention, because correct me if I'm wrong, I saw that you also worked for Johnny cupcakes. Was that
[00:21:32] Chris Delorenzo: while you were in school? No. So that was after, um, um, so yeah, worked, worked at Saatchi, Saatchi X, um, and worked there for about two years.
And then I realized, like, I didn't like advertising. I wanted to do more. Okay. Okay. So it was after. Yeah. And then, so I reached out, I wanted to go freelance because I was doing advertising, but then that itch of like, well, I like drawing a lot and I want to make. Things for people. And I want to see it immediately.
I don't want to do work on a campaign. Do millions of iterations presented a client. It never gets made, or it gets made. And it gets made like seven months or a year later. And then our, my creative effort comes in. Hey, that stuff went live. Um, check it out. I was like, what stuff? Oh yeah. That's cool. I'm over.
I don't care. That was like seven months. Um, so yeah, just that immediate reaction, um, kind of, I kind of craved, and so, and I love doing quick projects and fun things that were a bit more creative and didn't zap out the life, like, you know, at an agency, the first rounds always like pie in the sky go wild.
Like, and your creative directors, like just go man, like, yeah, that's awesome. Then we clear your client comes back and it's like, yeah, they want to scale it back. And then, so it just, all that personality just gets shipped out and ship that until it's like nothing left. So I had to leave. So, uh, uh, reached out to a bunch of people and I cold emailed Johnny cupcakes cause he's from Boston area.
And so I was like, I was thinking, I was like, who can I reach? Like who's not too far away and not. Hit up. Like, I don't know, whoever, like Nike to be like, Hey, I'm just a guy you don't know about. Um, I was like, who can I maybe have a connection with, Hey, I'm from your area? Um, I know this person or this person.
And they told me about this. Um, try to try to bridge some sort of gaps. And, um, I didn't hear back from him for like a month. And then he got, I got an email out of the blue and it was like, Hey. Yeah, like we don't really do freelance, but do you want to be our full-time designer? And I was like, oh, um, cause it just happened the right time that their full-time guy Clark or who was like my mentor for a while.
When I joined he's one of the best designers he was leaving to go for that. So he was like, we need to take someone and bring them in. And I guess they went through like the email. I sent them like a mock-up of like, here's a shirt that could work for your company. And. You know, they saw that, like I had ideas and it wasn't just like an idea that they had already done or something like that.
It was a bit taken it in my own vision. And yeah, they came to New York and they interviewed me, which is really cool. That's
[00:24:21] Jon Sorrentino: sick. They came to New York, they were like, let's go to
[00:24:24] Chris Delorenzo: Brooklyn. The Canon met up and we had dinner and like walked around New York. And I was like, this is amazing. Like it was him, it was Johnny and Clark.
And then. Danny Jones and Pascal the Silva, and they all came and I was definitely intimidated. I was like, this is like, these are four dudes who, to me, they were gods. And I was like, this they're, they're doing it. They're just kind of a kid still kind of fresh out of college. And me trying to like, yeah, I live in New York and I draw, yeah, you guys want me?
[00:24:55] Jon Sorrentino: Putting up a front. Yeah. I mean, that's awesome though, because like, you know, I can see. There was just so many things there, right? Like one, you realize that, um, you know, like advertising wasn't necessarily for you because of the process, right? Like you wanted to see work. And I think a lot of us get into being creative or naturally gravitate to this because we want to see, we want to create for people.
And so what happens usually? Yeah. At these agencies that won the work, you start out really big. Everyone likes it. And then like they have a meeting and then they're like, well, you know, this, that, and the other thing. And then it just slowly gets chipped. That's not
[00:25:27] Chris Delorenzo: processing, working towards.
[00:25:29] Jon Sorrentino: Yeah, and then it doesn't come out for another couple of months, you know, and by then you've already moved on.
[00:25:35] Chris Delorenzo: that's the way it usually goes, you know? And like, you know, any artist will tell you, like, you know, they love like chasing that vision and that. You know, it's like a personal pursuit and an internal happiness when they draw or paint something or sculpt something that, um, came out the way that they envisioned.
But still, we love like accolades and praise and seeing our work, you know, have reactions. Like we still like the social aspect of making art.
[00:26:03] Jon Sorrentino: Absolutely. And then not only that, but like you, so then to move on from Saatchi and Saatchi, which again was a huge, is still a huge, like giant in the creative industry and the advertising industry.
Um, you have the, like the IQ to reach out to someone that you like in an area that you were familiar with. It, you had a connection, which I think is super important for anyone who's listening to this. Like that is the best. I think that's one of the best ways to do it, right? Like, Hey, I grew up in the area.
I really admire your brand. Uh, I'd love to do some work for you. People tend to forget that, like, that connection is really important when you're working with someone. I th and I, you know, I think that's just like so awesome that you did that
[00:26:40] Chris Delorenzo: at the time. You know, there'll be like character designers or something out there that are like, why won't Pixar hire me?
It's like, you can definitely shoot for P X, R um, no, you know, uh, don't wanna stop anyone from doing that and going straight to the top, you know, but there's probably a small agency or, um, someone who has a script, a friend of a friend who has script that you might be great for that you can draw something for it.
So, you know, it's and then, uh, you know, I didn't want to go straight to, you know, like I was saying like, like Nike or Adidas or some big company that I didn't really know about, I just kind of knew that this guy likes that he had graphic t-shirts and I wanted to draw graphics. Um, but, and he's a local guy, so, um, you know, it was reaching for that first and then using that as like a, you know, a stepping stone to build something.
[00:27:33] Jon Sorrentino: Yeah. I mean, I remember Johnny cupcakes has like a one, a very design centric, right? Like very kind of graphic in that sense brand and admiring it as a young designer being, wow, this is so cool. You know, like all of that stuff. How long was. Well, before you decided that you were ultimately going to go
[00:27:50] Chris Delorenzo: freelance?
Um, it was, it was a while. It was, um, probably towards, I was there for six years. Um, and yeah, and I honestly didn't think I would be there for six years around, like, you're probably like my fifth year. I was definitely like where fourth, the fifth year I was like, how long do I want to keep doing this?
Where do I want to go next? What, um, I love this family and the people and the, and the adventures that we were going on because it's such a tight knit, um, um, brand, you know, it's a, it's a family run brand. And all the, all the people there just, you know, they were, they were my age. Um, we just hung out. It wasn't very much like a business, like a situation.
It was just, we're here, we're making, and we're doing it for our fans and for the people, we're not like, you know, we got to meet these numbers and try and do like, you know, we want it to grow, but we want to do it organically and within the scope of the brand. Um, and so kind of when I sort of felt a ceiling being hit personally, Um, you know, started to take on more jobs outside, and then that was giving me more, um, you know, um, fun or using a different part of my brain that, um, I wanted that I got.
Enjoyment from rather than just doing okay, cupcakes today. It's like, all right, there's other things.
[00:29:21] Jon Sorrentino: How do we spin this? You know, this brand I, when I started,
[00:29:24] Chris Delorenzo: when I started drawing and doodling more that wasn't cupcake related and having, and being like, okay, I can't wait to get home to do that rather than then, you know, once that sort of veneer rubbed off for me, Like, I still love going to work and like, what am I going to draw today?
But so like the, the ideas and everything were stockpiling, and I was like, I got to get this done or I'm going to like, explode. Like I need to pursue my own stuff.
[00:29:50] Jon Sorrentino: And then, so I mean, six years obviously says a lot because I think like, You know, me personally, I feel as if my last couple of jobs have been like, you're here, you're there, stuff like that.
So obviously when you find your place, you stick around. Cause it's fun and it's good. It's good to you, you know, um, what, you know, going into like, I struggle asking this question at the time. Cause it's like, I want, I want to go independent eventually. So like, like what got you motivated to, um, to really make that jump and like how would you convince or how would you sort of tell someone like, yeah, just take the
[00:30:25] Chris Delorenzo: plunge, you know?
Um, um, I don't, I can only speak to myself really in terms of like, how I felt about doing that. Cause it is a huge leap and. Um, you know, I probably talked about it a lot. Like, yeah, I should go freelance. Like it's probably
[00:30:41] Jon Sorrentino: I'm going to do
[00:30:42] Chris Delorenzo: it. I'm going to do it is a very, very tough decision. Um, uh, without having anything to go back on and like, it was really cool to quit my advertising.
To be like, yeah. Um, I just, don't like to say mom, I'm quitting. And then being like, well, what if we give you this and we'll raise your pay. And I was like, I actually took a pay cut, going to Johnny cupcakes. I was like, but you know, I was like, well, this is going to give me more freedom and I'm going to be happy doing this.
Um, and so that's, you know, that that feeling of quitting your job is great, but, um, I, but when you have something else to go to, but I didn't. And so it was in the end. I actually, um, Uh, technically I didn't quit. Um, as it was eventually let go because they were shrinking the company. Um, and like, they, like, their overhead was kind of too high.
And so they were making some adjustments internally. Um, so a lot of us got caught, let go. Um, but by then I was slightly secretly relieved cause I was like, oh wow. This made it kinda easier. Um, uh, because I knew I like financially, like it was already okay. Um, And so for me, it was basically when I got that job, um, outside of work, like, you know, I was doing work for anybody outside of my nine to five.
And when that got more enjoyable and when I was making a little bit more money, um, you had that realization of, if I did this nine to five and I actually put effort into it, How much could I actually make, um, rather than just doing it from like seven to 10 at night, um, it it's squeezing it in here and there.
So I think it's when, when you, when you are again, starting to get opportunities and you realizing that you can grow it, if you put the time in that time is during the day when you were at your day job. So you just have to do that math and say, okay, if I work nine to five, Monday through Friday on this, I could make more of than my salary right now because X, Y, and Z, all this stuff together.
[00:32:53] Jon Sorrentino: Absolutely. Yeah. I think, I think I've had some. Some of those thoughts. So maybe we'll see in the next, in the near future, what happens. But I mean now obviously like I, what I, from the outside, from a, from a observer, from someone admiring your work, you know, you've been able to work with apple the times, uh, some of my favorite brands Klarna in case, uh, de Deus ex Maki.
Um, you even, like, I think, you know, obviously stalking everyone's Instagram, I guess Instagram, I saw that you, um, did a, like, sort of the branding and the packaging for a company, a dip company that ended up in a store near year, right?
[00:33:29] Chris Delorenzo: Um, yeah, the, the honest stand. Yes. Yeah. Step companies. Yeah. And then I found it in the grocery store, uh, the town over from me.
Did you just cry
[00:33:41] Jon Sorrentino: for a second? You're like, yes,
[00:33:43] Chris Delorenzo: it is. It is like a, it's a very interesting feeling. It never gets old. Um, and. But like you are, you don't know how to celebrate it in a way I'm in the grocery store. I'm not gonna be like, Hey lady, check it out. Like she was like, get away from me.
[00:34:00] Jon Sorrentino: It's such a good episode of like, whatever, like, like TV series, like graphic designer, like finds out he's he's in the story behind this.
[00:34:08] Chris Delorenzo: It's better when, like you bring a friend with. It check it out and you're like, whoa. Um,
[00:34:14] Jon Sorrentino: yeah, but then the irony is also like, yeah, I made this, but like, I get nothing from you. Yeah.
[00:34:20] Chris Delorenzo: I definitely bought it at the store and I was like, I just want this, you know, so I bought it and I, you know, you're, you're like, love those illustrations on the packaging.
[00:34:30] Jon Sorrentino: Wow. That really convinced me to buy this dip specifically.
[00:34:33] Chris Delorenzo: Yeah. It's like, I remember when I did, when I was working at Saatchi, I went out to. We went out to Texas to south by Southwest. And I had, we had done worked for Wendy's and like, we did work for all their menu designs. So we designed their whole menu system and there's a paper texture in there that I used that I got from like a deli over like down in Soho, New York.
And I got some deli paper and I used that and I scanned it in and that became like, Th the background texture that they use for all their Wendy's, like across the country. And we were in Texas and I was like, Hey Dave, like my, um, that's set up, um, paper. Like I scan that, like I grabbed that from a butcher and brought it and he was.
Dude, you got to tell them that. And I was like, I'm going to tell the cashier at a Wendy's in Texas that I scanned a paper in.
[00:35:30] Jon Sorrentino: Yeah. I'd like a discount with my meal because, uh, there's a lot of,
[00:35:35] Chris Delorenzo: I was like, no, they don't care. And so when we got the register, like I ordered them. David's like, you know, he, uh, he did that. Um, uh, many of them. Th
[00:35:47] Jon Sorrentino: she was like, oh great. That's going to be, that's going to be 9 56
[00:35:50] Chris Delorenzo: please. Yeah. They were just like, okay, cool.
[00:35:55] Jon Sorrentino: It's just us. It's just an
[00:35:57] Chris Delorenzo: inside joke. It's a weird thing. Cause you know, packaging. Or an advertising, normal people outside of the field. Just take it as like that's a thing in the world. That's just, I will see, I will see bus ads. I will see packaging. These things will be that they just are. They don't think about like, woo.
Who's the lady up in New Hampshire that draws the flowers that go on this, you know, I'm really a greeting card. I always see. It's like, no, they just like grab it. Cause they're like, no, that's it we're facing.
[00:36:30] Jon Sorrentino: And we'd like to tell ourselves that that's like the that's good design when there's no real question going on.
So-and-so yet you, you have such a, um, I definitely want to talk about your style a bit because you have sort of. You know, stop me on my wrist if this is like totally off, but you have this sort of slightly abstracted, slightly minimal kind of a style that you approach the anatomy and illustrations with, but you also sort of mold in or mesh in typography when you can.
And I'm just, I'm kind of curious, like how did that sort of develop? How did that come about? You know, were there inspirations along the way that sort of led you to this sort of style that you're experimenting or, you know, working with now?
[00:37:09] Chris Delorenzo: Yeah, it was definitely, um, a big melting pot of interests, pretty much of, um, things that I did on my own and things that I saw in the world that like I wanted the communities.
I want to be a part of like, I think around 2009, Um, like in 2009 typography and like the topography and like blog scene was like really big. Um, and you know, that's like all you would see. And so everyone kind of took their hands. In that. And I was like, okay, like, how can I incorporate typography into my work?
Um, cause you know, it's not just fonts anymore. It's like hand drawn stuff. And that, that sells and, you know, loved doing fonts, like always did like my friend's bands t-shirts and um, all kinds of stuff like that. Like, uh, programs and stuff for our town and growing up and making t-shirts for, uh, our own, um, like music festivals that we put on when I was in college.
That's always been there and then, uh, um, uh, doing it with graphic design or doing it with illustration kind of came later for me though, because it was always kind of separate, like the text companies, the image, but then making the texts also the image, um, is, was kind of eye-opening in that, in that regard.
Um, yes. So it just kind of like kind of developed just, just because of a natural interest in it. Um, and obviously when you have to be to draw, um, Uh, and you want to put text over. It has to work together. I can't like sometimes the juxtaposition works, but for me it was more so if I can make it harmonize with my work, um, then the better it is.
And I think also the hands-on approach kind of cam, like I was obsessed with like Stefan Sagmeister for like a while when I was in college. And, um, and like, um, and afterschool and him like him kind of saying like, he hated. Going through a font library and just trying to pick out the tests, what fonts worked.
So that's how he developed his more hand drawn approach to typography. So I was like, yeah, I don't want to sit in from the computer, just click next next. And like, does that type work is that type word? So
[00:39:26] Jon Sorrentino: I will say I love. I love trying to find the most obscure type typeface and stuff like that. But working with brands like apple, working with brands like Warby Parker, GoDaddy, you know, how does that process sort of, how have you made that process work for you?
Right. Because, you know, as you mentioned, like in Saatchi and Saatchi and Saatchi in a more kind of commercial advertising, working with bigger clients, or you are working with bigger clients, but working in that sort of big organization, the work slowly tapers, and you know, some of the work that I see from you that you share.
It's it feels like you, you know, it feels very much your style and you kind of go into it and it doesn't seem, and I'm sure there are some back and forth, but it doesn't seem like there's a lot of sacrificing in that sense.
[00:40:06] Chris Delorenzo: Yeah. That's, I mean, that's a lot, what people strive for is to, how can I create my work that isn't diluted or void of my personality.
Um, and that's, you know, why the brands will contact. You are, you know, me, um, for me, it's like we can to you, because we want a hand drawn, um, humanistic approach because they're a big company. They don't want to look like they are just robots. So a more hands-on approach kind of makes them, um, personable and approachable.
So doing that benefits, um, that, and so they say we want humanism approach and. Clever witty stuff. And so that's my bread and butter. And I, what I love to do is finding those, those combinations that unlock that aha moment for an illustration like, oh, you know, The circle looks like ahead. Um, and then the head is the sun and cause they're both circles and, you know, just makes you think a little graphic graphic witticism um, I
[00:41:08] Jon Sorrentino: think graphic witticism is, is the perfect way to summarize it.
And if that isn't already a domain, I might just go and purchase it myself. How brands perceive your work and how does. Kind of lend itself to creating work. We're not sacrificing a lot. We actually are putting your style and your, your spin on it. So I think, I think you've covered.
[00:41:25] Chris Delorenzo: Yeah. Uh, uh, touching that more.
It's definitely, it comes down to the art directors a lot when they hire you, some are directors, they S they can see your work and some, they can see what your work looks like. Um, and some people in NASA and that's what I'd benefit from, or, and this is usually 50, 50. Some, they just see you draw like things wiggly, like, and it's clean.
Okay. Other than some people see, like you, you think with line differently than other people do, like, you know, with how you draw a line and what that line becomes. And so we want you to do that, like that. Um, It all, it all comes down to the art director or the, you know, the people that hire you and what they see in your work.
Um, and that's, you know, sometimes I get, I get very surface level stuff and sometimes I get, we want your thinking, um, and just go wild with whatever you're working on or approaching these days.
[00:42:27] Jon Sorrentino: That's cool. What'd you say, what'd you, what'd you say tools, like obviously sharing your work on Instagram and platforms like that really helped because.
You know, I wouldn't say I'm an art director, but I've worked in that sort of that, that sense. And the first place I go sometimes is just scanning Instagram or scanning, Tik TOK or whatever, trying to find people that. Have a great sense of style or a great sense of taste. And I want that work to, to, to kind of be the foundation of whatever the campaign is or, you know, whatever the, the objective.
[00:43:00] Chris Delorenzo: Yeah. I think that's what, um, a lot of our directors would do. They would, you know, like if you go to your feed, it's all depends on what you're looking at. Um, you know, that. Or like the discover page on Instagram is a big thing. And I think, um, if you're not director, you're like, okay, black and white or editorial or hashtag, or hashtag, uh, colorful illustrations.
And you find people that are doing certain things and then you curate and make a mood board and who can we approach? Like, there's so many illustrators now that I find, because I'm in a deck, like I'm in like a PDF with like a reference illustration. Um, and there's, uh, Yeah, there's a couple of illustrators that I'm like, who is, this?
Was this person's work. I always see in these decks that our director send me. And then like, my friend told me one time, I was like, is this burden? I was like, oh, okay. Like, but, um, It's like we're
[00:43:51] Jon Sorrentino: in the same circle. Just kind of like ruminating with. Yeah.
[00:43:55] Chris Delorenzo: So, so there's definitely a way that, you know, it aggregates, like if you liked Chris Johnson's work, it's line work and it's simple.
So this other person's work now is popping up. Um, so some people will see that and I don't see that cause I don't like my own. You know, so it doesn't pop up for me a lot. So I don't know. Of course, so, yeah. So that makes sense. That's what happens with a lot of that
[00:44:20] Jon Sorrentino: to switch gears, you know, I think like, um, You can correct me if I'm wrong.
I'm sure you're working a good amount, like a lot. Right. And I'm curious, you know, how do you sort of separate the time that you're creatively thinking creatively, um, to like relax and really like, you know, kind of like clear your mind in a sense, like, is there something that you do outside of your home or whatever, you know, in the area, you know, like how do you sort of take time to recoup a bit?
[00:44:47] Chris Delorenzo: Um, well, these days it's very tough. Um, I became a dad less. And so I have a 10 month old congratulations banks. And so that's been a big life changer and there's really, uh, that definitely recharges me or also exhausts me depending on what day it is, of course how they're feeling. And so, um, that is, is a, is a big factor, not really much on the relaxing side of things, um, but definitely gives me new life and new reason to create, um, Maybe sometimes the ideas aren't there, but I have like a, more of a passionate, like I need to work on something because I have someone to provide for now.
Um, but creatively, give me, give me a 10 mile walk in the woods and like I'm good for another three months. Um, hiking has been a big part of my life. Um, and, um, When I, when I need to get back and recharge, I just, I just get on that mother nature, wifi, and it like, you know, wireless charging and it re energizes my soul mother
[00:45:57] Jon Sorrentino: nature, wifi.
I got to say, you're coming up with some, some really good at like, you know, like phrases today. And I think we should write these down and collab on something because. I think anyone would be like, yes, I want to go there. Wherever mother nature is, wifi is
[00:46:11] Chris Delorenzo: she's got it. So I just, I just look up to that and then, um, you know, images pop into my head as I'm hiking and walking and, um, yeah, like that's why nature has been seeping into my work a lot more because you kind of come back to what you love and also where I am now.
Like I'm not in a city anymore. Um, you know, we moved here last January, so I'm just like looking at Robbins, um, you know, azaleas outside and, um, rhododendrons my neighbor's mowing their lawn. So. Very quiet, very quaint, um, and a very nature filled. So like that's awesome. Yeah. So like a lot of my stuff is like a women becoming flowers and people like stillness has started to infiltrate my work more.
And I kind of miss the hustle bustle where like the creative witticism comes into play because now it's like, you know, I'm just home in the suburbs, especially during. I feel like my, my woodiness has declined a bit. Um, so not, everyone's not making those, the graphic connections a lot right now, but that's why, like, I need to get out and need to travel traveling, and also just energizes me.
Um, you know, I feel like it's not, not, not any different from what anyone else would say. Just getting out, traveling, meeting people, having conversations, um, which, you know, this past year has totally been deprived of. Um, but doing. Is, is what makes me, uh, work work better.
[00:47:40] Jon Sorrentino: I'm a hundred percent there with you.
I completely share that same exact, uh, you know, like, like preference or that, that feeling that traveling and getting to know new people is like the most fulfilling thing for me. And so it's been definitely really tough in the last year for
[00:47:54] Chris Delorenzo: sure. And I like, I love watching movies. I'm a, I'm a big cinephile.
And so watching shots. Um, just Grayson photography, you know, always gives me like, oh, um, and like seeing how people. Pose and things like that. Like I used, and I would pause, pause a, um, a movie like, oh, like I love like, okay, there's a person riding a bike from behind and low as an angle. You can't find on Google images.
So you get like, you pause it, you like take a picture on your phone or something. And it's like,
[00:48:27] Jon Sorrentino: absolutely. Absolutely. I, I, I almost say. I will watch shitty movies or with crappy plots. If the cinematography in the senior, you know, in the color, grading, all that stuff is amazing. I, one day aspire to work on a film in that sense, maybe if it's just as simple as the credits or art directing scenes in that way.
So I come, I'm there with you. I feel like completely in tune with that. Yeah.
[00:48:52] Chris Delorenzo: It's just like that, you know, it's, it's that three dimensional, um, visual stimulus. Uh, a flat image, you know, even though it is a flat image in the end, it is something about the orchestration of it. That is very appealing to, I think, creative people and designers, because they made everything work, you know, it's, it's, it's.
The packaging it's, it's the, it's the shape of the can and the topography and the illustration also with the nutritional labels. But that's like, it's the sound? It's the lighting. It's the way the actors move. Then the stage, like all that, just the ingredients that come together to make what perfect design package and it's as a film.
And so when you see a good one, you're just, you just cherish it.
[00:49:37] Jon Sorrentino: Completely Chris, before we wrap up this episode, um, I've been asking all of my guests, you know, if you could write yourself a time capsule and sort of send it to yourself, open it down the line 2, 5, 10 years from now, what would you sort of write to yourself?
[00:49:54] Chris Delorenzo: Well, and I write to myself, um, how are you doing? Okay. You know, I would just maybe ask, ask it a question and be like, like, are you happy? Like, what are you, what are you seeking still? Um, you know, and always having that drive and a reminder of that and like, did you, did you become an old man yet? Like
[00:50:23] Jon Sorrentino: that's great.
I think that's perfect.
[00:50:24] Chris Delorenzo: I've been reading the little prince to my son. Um, I didn't realize like how great that book was as a kid. Cause it's not it's for kids, but it's it's for the reader. Like for the adult, who's reading it to the kid and it really like hits you in the face of like, oh, you thought you were still a kid, but you are an adult.
And you forgot about all these great things that you can see in a child's eyes. And so, you know, just having that reminder of yeah. Yeah, you are older, but you know, don't lose that. Kid's sense of wonder.
[00:50:59] Jon Sorrentino: Maybe just put that book in there instead of right.
[00:51:03] Chris Delorenzo: Like that's what I mean, like, yeah. It's like, it's like, are you an old man yet?
Kind of like don't, don't become one. Uh, you know, always, always have like a kid heart and, and seek something that, uh, or, and see something in a different way.
[00:51:17] Jon Sorrentino: That's beautiful, Chris, thank you so much for joining me on this episode. Um, you know, so great to meet you and again, having just admired her work, I was so great to talk about your process and some of the, you know, things that you've kind of experienced along the way.
Um, Chris, where can people find more view more of your work? Uh, and get in touch with you.
[00:51:35] Chris Delorenzo: Yeah. Um, thanks so much for having me. This is actually my first podcast that I've done, so you're, um, I'm happy to be in good company and, um, you know, a esteemed veteran as yourself, guiding me along and asking good questions to hope I was of some, uh, source of knowledge or any kind of guidance for people or?
[00:52:00] Jon Sorrentino: Absolutely.
[00:52:01] Chris Delorenzo: Insight to my creativity. Um, we really get into much of like my work process per se, but, uh, yeah. Uh, shoot me any kind of messages on, uh, on Instagram at, @chrisdelorenzo or, um, email me at [email protected] I'm always glad to help out and, um, you know, give any advice.
I can, people starting off in the field. Um, but yeah, uh, and then all my work I post there and anything else you can find on my website, chrisdelorenzo.com. Awesome.
[00:52:35] Jon Sorrentino: Thank you so much, Chris. Appreciate it.
[00:52:37] Chris Delorenzo: Yeah. Thank you.
[00:52:38] Jon Sorrentino:This podcast is produced by me. Jon's Sorrentino out in Jersey city, New Jersey. Editing, mixing, and music are all done by my friend, Kevin Bendis in Greenpoint Brooklyn. Definitely check him out. You can find out more about Wellfed and where to listen at wellfedpodcast.com or on social media at wellfed.podcast.
Thank you so much for listening and we'll see you soon.