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Vincenzo Lodato a true renaissance creative

Vincenzo Lodato has worked in branding and licensing at Mattel Universal Studios Disney and Warner Brothers New Line Cinema as creative director at GQ and now hes living in Florence teaching at Polimoda and performing American classics with newly founded group Café Society. We sit down with Vincenzo to find out more about his boundless creativity. Youve worked with the likes of Kate Hudson and all these household names. Hows it going from working with celebrities to living and working in Florence

Its different! My background has been as creative director at many of the studios so I worked with a lot of directors and talent. You go to a restaurant in LA and theyre sitting next to you you say hello and its part of the lifestyle. The motion picture industry and television industry are magic. What do you do exactly for these celebs

I worked in the branding and licensing department. When the movies came out Id manage the merchandise whether thats t-shirts games or toys. I managed the Jurassic Park franchise after being in an initial meeting with Steven Spielberg so that meant dinosaur toys. Mercedes Benz came out with their first SUV when I was working on The Lost World Jurassic Park. So I got to work on that design with Mercedes Benz which was in the movie as product placement. Then I went to New Line Cinema to work on the Lord of The Rings trilogy. I hadnt read the books so I had to read all three in two weeks before having a meeting with Peter Jackson his team and talent. I didnt know anything about dinosaurs or trolls but I was honest with them. I said that Id study the characters and wed work together it was frightening and exciting at the same time. I also worked on classics like Psycho E.T. and Back to the Future. I like to be diverse in what I do. Even though I worked at Universal Studios Disney and Warner Bros. New Line Cinema I ventured off into publishing.

I happened to be vice president at toy store FAO Schwarz in New York City the toy store working with different partners like Hasbro and Mattel. I even worked with Martha Stewart on the window displays for Christmas that year. There was a creative director position at GQ magazine around 2003-04. Id never worked in publishing before but I was interviewed by Ron Galotti who had been the publisher for Vanity Fair for a long time before moving to GQ.

Why this is interesting is that Candace Bushnell who wrote Sex and The City dated Ron and the character Mr. Big is based on Ron Galotti. So when I got the job all my friends said Oh youre working for Mr Big! Id been working as a creative director my whole career and he said You do a lot of branding marketing and merchandising but you havent been in a publishing house. He went on But youve also been in musical theater and have produced live events. Were doing the GQ Men Of The Year Awards for the first time live with MTV. I need you to be the executive producer as well as the brand director. I loved the job. We booked the Black Eyed Peas Jay Z got an award and Beyoncé was backstage so it just turned into this amazing opportunity. astounding. What other changes did you make when you came in as creative director

I had to work closely with all the brands on ad campaigns and marketing events. We also produced The GQ Lounge going to New York Miami and Los Angeles to find the hottest bars and convert them into opportunities for subscribers as private invitation-only events so they would find out about certain brands and exclusive new products.
Vincenzo Lodato
The Florentines Helen Farrell interviewing Vincenzo Lodato in his office in the Oltrarno. Ph. Marco Badiani

How did you come to live in Florence I studied Fine Arts in Rome when I was an undergrad at college and my ancestry is all Italian. My dream was to be an Italian citizen which I achieved in 2008. I vowed Id always come back and live in Florence. Its my favorite city in the entire world. Ive traveled a lot and my heart has always been drawn to Firenze. My husband and I have had a home in Italy since 2005 first in Todi then in Orvieto before we moved to Florence permanently in 2019.

Tell me about all of the different things you do now that youre here in Florence I teach at Polimoda Fashion Institute and LAccademia dArte Firenze as well as privately. I teach everything from branding and marketing to art direction concept design and public speaking. I encourage my students to go on LinkedIn and narrow down their job search to two or three companies youd like to work for before starting a conversation with somebody who works for that company so that you can see who to send your CV to. I didnt know anybody at Polimoda but I emailed the then-director of education and suggested that we partner on some projects. Then they asked me to run a workshop on branding and marketing. I was teaching at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising FIDM in Los Angeles so I was already working in fashion education.

Youre also a published writer. Yes I worked on an exciting project with Dee Wallace who played the mother in E.T. She wrote a childrens book called BuppaLaPaloo & The I Love MEs and I illustrated it. Its an important message for children of today to learn to truly love themselves and then they can go on to achieve anything. It was published at the end of last year. Vincenzo Lodato Vincenzo Lodato explains a memorable moment from his time on stage in Broadway. Ph. Marco Badiani You just launched a musical project called Café Society which made its debut recently at Palazzo Tornabuoni. Whats different about this group

Theres a lot of opera and symphonies here in Italy of course and though I appreciate them I havent seen or heard much authentic American standard or musical theater songs. I performed at Palazzo Tornabuoni last November with another musical theater friend of mine from Los Angeles and the residents of the palazzo asked to hear more. Thats how I discovered there was a demand for speakeasy cool background jazz. Very Michael Bublé Tony Bennett Frank Sinatra very soft. I partnered with Matteo Londero whos the pianist for Mascarade Opera Studio.

Youre also running wine and watercolor workshops. Yes thats something Im doing with Mary Shea from the Querceto di Castellina winery. Were going to be doing a wine and watercolor workshop in the palazzo where she lives as well as here in my Oltrarno studio. I teach workshops in sketching and watercolor plus private lessons in oil painting sketching and life drawing. And Im also going to be partnering with Betty Soldi on creative thinking workshops for companies to help their employees think differently and be more productive and innovative.

Whats your approach to painting I have to be in the mood to paint. I have to be in the right space and I cant be stressed. Ill put music on. Creative director artist musician youre a real renaissance guy. I once performed in an off-Broadway cabaret with Joyce DeWitt from Threes Company and she introduced me saying Hes a true friend and a renaissance man and I stood there backstage thinking that was the most beautiful compliment that anybody has ever given me. Because I want to be a renaissance man. I admire people who do many different things.

Whats your advice to people working in the creative industries today I always tell my students this when theyre looking for a job its all about timing. You dont know who youre gonna meet you have to be open. And then we forget that there are things in our life that we wished for a long time ago. We get frustrated sometimes like why did I move to Italy But then you think that was always my dream. I got my dream! So now what do I do with it A lot of people are fearful. Im a huge dreamer. My mantra in life is falling on your face is still moving forward. I fall on my face a lot.

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