Alberto “Sting” Russo
is an Italian graphic designer, painter and illustrator based in Lussery-Villars, Switzerland. He is also one of the new generation of artists who has elevated the depiction of entertainers and sports figures into a whole new realm. Combining a traditional fine art sensibility with a very modern use of computer technology, Russo produces ‘portraits’ that are timely, funny, often insightful, and just as often immediately arresting. In graphic design school, Alberto took figure-drawing. He attended CEPV École d’arts appliqués (1994-1995) and ERAG École d’arts graphiques, now ERACOM (1995-1999). Like many artists, Alberto can’t remember not drawing. But he started to paint graffiti in 1990. His tag was “Sting”, which he kept it as a nickname. In 2000, at the age of 26, he created Area Design, his own design agency. In 2010, he attended Sebastian Krüger’s painting workshop, which helped him decide to restart painting faces and to focus on his illustration work. He mixes traditional art mediums with digital mediums: “I mix my work with both and really love what we can do with new techniques. Digital or not.”
“I select my subjects for different reasons. But the most important one is that I want to give my own artistic view on them. I don’t do subjective portraits to do ‘the funny thing’ or to make people laugh. I want to express how I see them – to share these feelings in my paintings. I need to study their faces, their attitudes, their souls.”
“Mainly my goal is always to do the right thing technically but with freedom. To do only the technical aspect of a portrait is simply playing with proportions. But the freedom you have with the rendering and how the piece feels, is where the real creativity lies. Rendering is the music in the creative process. It is important to discover the essence of the subject you are drawing and then push this out in the right representation. It is difficult to explain the soul of the subject and not just get a likeness.”
Among the many artists he considers faves, he lists American comic book artist Mort Drucker (Mad magazine), American fantasy painter (and former comic book artist) Frank Frazetta, American movie poster artist Drew Struzan, German-born British portraitist Lucian Freud, German portraitist (and caricaturist) Sebastian Krüger, and French caricaturist Jean Mulatier.
Clients include Nike, Puma, and Universal Music. Sting has done a lot of cover art for compact-discs by swiss and international artists: “I really love to create artwork where I can feel the music and the vibrations. It’s a great challenge to put the energy and the movement in a static illustration.”