In Conversation with Rosanna Di Risio

Rosanna Di Risio is passionate about the power of design in the storytelling process, and driven by the rewards of finding and working with the true substance of a story, rather than just surface texture.

Rosanna has worked for well-respected studios, run her own business and lectured in graphic design at tertiary level for many years. Her career has always focused on printed collateral and its ability to influence the way people think and feel.

As Creative Director of ERD for the past 8 years, Rosanna is constantly inspired by the fact that no two stories are ever the same and no two creative solutions are ever identical.

What inspired you to become a Designer?

While studying Fine Art and Design at Phillip Institute, it seemed very difficult at that time to find my own style and voice in fine art. I was drawn to the problem solving aspects of graphic design.

I loved the challenge involved in projects and deadlines and I still do to this day.

It was my great good luck to be trained by some fabulous designers, illustrators, photographers and artists who truly inspired me. They broadened my view of the world ten-fold and opened my eyes to the opportunity of design.

How did you get your first break?

My very first job was working for a small printing firm in Collins Street.

It was not the most exciting place to start, but it was a job and I was keen to travel!

I believe my real break came in 1992, when I had the opportunity to run a small team within a publishing house. The role was challenging and a real learning curve.

I managed a small team of designers and an extensive network of freelancers. We designed and produced titles across several markets and languages, worked with international publishers and printed many of the titles both in Melbourne and overseas.

Learning to art direct and manage people was one of the hardest things to grasp. This role stretched me and most definitely extended my skill base beyond designing.

Mentoring is something I really enjoy. Learning to connect with people and working with their strengths is very rewarding. I love watching my teams succeed.

What paths have you taken to get to where you are today?

It has been quite a journey. I started by working for a printer before running a studio with two partners, travelling heaps and freelancing a lot. I’ve worked in television, within business as part of an internal design team and for various publishing houses. I’ve lectured at TAFE and at Monash University, worked for several small design studios and finally joined ERD 14 years ago.

What advice about the do's and don'ts would you give to someone wanting to get into the Design Industry?

Work hard, be open to the world and to advice. Immerse yourself in all the creative fields, not just graphics. Don’t bitch about stuff, just get on with it, be yourself and learn to be honest without being cruel.

Tell us about what you're currently working on and what sets ERD apart from the rest of the industry?

There are many varied projects going through the studio at the moment. What is interesting is that lots of fun projects have started emerging, which is really refreshing after the last year or so of pretty tough times.

ERD is ‘Turning 21’ next year and we plan to celebrate by making it a studio project and produce a publication or object to commemorate the event. Not sure what form it will take yet, but it will be something special and made with love!

And what sets ERD apart from the rest of the industry?

That’s a hard question to answer. After 14 years with ERD, it isn’t easy to view it from the outside. You tend to get into your own zone and get on with work, you’re not really thinking about your competitors.

We’re always looking for new ways to create beautiful, unique and meaningful work for our clients. We spend enormous amounts of time exploring all the options for every project, no matter how big or small.

Though I would say that we are awesome people, we care about our clients, our work and especially our people.

As would most studios I guess.

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