MEET ART DIRECTOR/ILLUSTRATOR - MARGHERITA URBANI | Ikonerx | Interactive content consulting.


An Italian-born American art director and illustrator, Margherita Ubani brings a wry sense of humor to her work. Pairing a graphic sensibility with a love of typography, she explores the elements of balancing her two cultures and the challenges, both linguistic and otherwise, of being “other.”
She was recently Associate Art Director at Urban Outfitters, covering branding, packaging and print-based projects, and is currently freelancing while collaborating with Andy Rementer on commercial projects and social media. 

QA-17sTell us about your education and career path.

 The path that took me where I am is not really linear. In Italy, where I grew up, there is a lack of creative degrees offered by universities, especially compared to the States. My father is an architect, like all of the older generations of Italian designers, so I always thought the only creative path was through architecture.I graduated in Industrial Design and then continued with a masters in Visual and Multimedia Communications at IUAV University of Venice. Between my studies I worked for a design firm there called Studio Camuffo. The experience was very formative, and opened my eyes to the idea that illustration and making comics can be a career.As I moved to the States, I immediately began working as a graphic designer, doing illustration on the side. That's what I still do now: I'm a designer in the Anthropologie Catalog team, and I run an illustration studio where I collaborate with Andy Rementer.

QA-17sHow did your project begin? 
I craved visiting Japan for so long that I decided to keep a sketchbook so the memories wouldn't fade. Every day I tried to draw everything I could remember seeing. I was in touch with Commune already, and I shared the making of the journal with them. Eventually they liked it so much that they offered to publish it.

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QA-17sWhat does your day-to-day work on the Anthropologie catalog entail?

It's a very fast-paced environment, having 15 printed catalogs per year to send out... it kinda never stops. I'm involved in the type and layout explorations, but mainly I focus on the execution and edits of each issue. I love when sometimes I can squeeze in some illustrations for the blog.

QA-17sWhat were your fears before going?

Leaving my comfort zone and exploring differences is a source of excitement for me. My only fear was not having enough time to see it all. 
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QA-17sWhat were you most excited about? 

Everything! And all my expectations were exceeded greatly, especially in the art and design field.
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QA-17sOutside of your work at Anthropologie, what is exciting you about your art?

First of all, Iʼm very lucky to be working in a creative environment like Anthropologie, with so many other talented people. On top of that, the whole Urban Outfitters campus is a place that really respects other creative endeavors — you can tell because everybody has other passions on the side. Itʼs very exciting to talk to your coworkers and know youʼre not alone pulling all-nighters on your personal projects.

Going to work everyday gives me the discipline that I need creatively, while the motivation I put into my nights at the studio feeds the focus in my job. Itʼs a good balance.

Who did you share your trip with?

I was there with Andy Rementer who is my life and work partner. He had an art show in Shimokitazawa, so that was the perfect excuse to finally plan the trip.

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QA-17sHow would you describe your personal take on design, your aesthetic?

I donʼt know if I am good at describing what I do (laughs). Overall, my illustration work is very colorful. Typography is very important, and I often end up doing something bold, but somehow feminine, even though I'm not girly.
In my comics I try to inject a sense of humor and criticism. Sometimes I draw myself as a cartoon to vent some frustrations. I'm not sure if this is typical of female illustrators, but it just comes natural to go down that path. I like that with personal work you are free to be more edgy, or harsh, or more critical. While with commissioned jobs you have to...well, I donʼt want to say that you have to be more careful, but definitely there is a bit of a filter.
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