UJ Alumni Impumelelo Magazine Edition 8

Paolo Grippa has directed award-winning television commercials for local and international household-name brands. His fine art is an escape from his beloved but frenetic and intense career that simultaneously helps him discover his own psyche.

Something he has found quite interesting over the years is that having studied Graphic Design at Wits Tech (UJ) seemed to give him a definite edge over many other colleagues who had gone through the more traditional advertising schools. “It may be a biased point of view, but it became more apparent as many other creatives and peers who went through the same programme, either in my year, or before/after me, also really stood out in the industry. I believe it had a lot to do with the course giving me an all- round, in-depth understanding of various art and design techniques, diverse subjects of the course, as well as the completely hands-on approach to learning the craft of each of the subjects.”

Over the years, Paolo has won various awards; locally at the Loerie Awards and internationally at Cannes, the Clio Awards and Golden Drum Festival of New Europe. However, to Paolo, awards are a double-edged sword that he has struggled to come to terms with. On one side, they help define an advertising creative’s success and can affect their employment opportunities, salary and industry relevance. For many people in the industry, their award list overrides their CV or working experience, he says. “On the other hand, working purely for awards can be disheartening if (and when) you don’t win. Your insecurity and self-worth as a strong, credible creative comes into question as you don’t perceive yourself to be ‘good enough’. There is often a stronger sense of pride and reward in doing what’s right for a job or brand, and that is often undermined when striving f or awards.”

I n 2012, after a few years in the intense and frenetic world of advertising, he returned to his art in his free time to relearn who he was and what he really cared about, unaffected by the restrictions found in the advertising industry. “It has been quite liberating as I’ve pursued it for selfish reasons and have never looked at it as a source of income that I had to rely on. As it is ‘art for art’s sake’ it has also allowed me the freedom of not caring what other people’s opinions of it are.” Lately, his art has been quite imperative to discovering his own psyche and being able to explore personal issues and insecurities he never realised existed, especially when he was younger. Many see his work as being quite “dark”, he says. “Whatever I create is what it needs to be at that moment and it has become quite therapeutic.”

Paolo Grippa obtained a National Higher Diploma (Graphic Design) from UJ.


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