Get to know digital artist Hilly as he dives into his creative process, exciting collaborations, and the role of AI in shaping the industry’s future.
In the intricate marriage between sight and sound, evocative visuals open an invitation to enrich the music listener’s experience. With a growing influx of fresh tunes that hit the release radar each day, it becomes imperative for artists to stand out with the power of images. Graphic designer Luca Scabini, better known by his moniker Hilly, is one of the true virtuosi in the space who works with artists to achieve the beauty of that.
A visionary creative hailing from Italy and currently based in London, Hilly is a professional digital artist armed with an illustrious portfolio of projects spanning the past six years. His artistic prowess in digital creations has seen him breathe life into various projects for artists such as SG Lewis, Marshmello, Slushii, Steve Aoki, Wenzday, and more.
Drawing inspiration from his personal endeavors and the world of music and film, Hilly has an unyielding dedication to crafting exceptional design pieces that resonate with the overall musical package. As he revels in the liberation that comes from a new conceptual idea, he harnesses the power of Cinema 4D to weave a visual symphony into the nuances of the artists’ sound to encapsulate the heart of the music. The result of his magic provides artists with a distinctive visual identity that beckons the audience to delve deeper into their sonic journey.
Often, Hilly finds himself constantly enthralled by the process of bringing imagination to life through his creations. With each project, he continues to leave an indelible mark on the intersection of art and music. As he continues to carve a unique niche in a world where standing out increasingly becomes both an art and a necessity, it is only a matter of time before the world learns more about this trailblazer.
So the next time you find yourself immersed in your favorite tune, take the opportunity to pause and appreciate the accompanying visuals from the album art to the music video animations and allow your senses to be enveloped by a holistic experience. Head to his website to check out some of his exquisite work, and read on for our full conversation!
Hi Luca, thank you for taking the time to chat with us today. Your designs have a very distinct style, and the way you use colors to create a harmonious visual experience is remarkable! It’s evident that you put a lot of thought into every design element! First off, can you tell us more about how you get started in design work and what projects you are currently working on?
Hey! Thank you so much for sitting down with me and for giving me the opportunity to talk about my art. My career has always been extremely organic since day one. When I was in college, I thought I would be studying architecture. However, that didn’t work out, and while in school, I actually had a music blog called HypeTrap. I was the one making the artwork for each article, and one thing led to another, and some of these artists ended up contacting me for commission work.
Fast forward to today, I’ve created various artworks and visuals for over 200 clients. I recently finished working with Tita Lau on her new live visuals, a fall tour flyer for Bijou, compilation artwork for the label 40oz Cult, single artwork for Duke & Jones, and Wenzday’s Insomniac Radio show assets.
It’s interesting to read that you’ve worked with many incredible artists in the EDM community, like Marshmello, Sikdope, and Duke & Jones. Can you share with us what draws you to electronic music and how EDM has shaped your artistic style/approach to design?
I have been in love with EDM since I was 15, but I really got immersed in the scene when I moved to London at the age of 20. When I first got to London from Trieste, Italy, I didn’t speak English at all, but I would always attend EDM events. My start with 3D art and playing around with Photoshop began as fan art for some of my favorite artists, hoping they would notice me. I saw electronic music as something futuristic I wanted to be a part of. I was always inspired by what I saw at live shows from artists such as Skrillex, Justice, and Modestep, among other dubstep OGs. That inspiration is still what motivates me and pushes me to do more.
In terms of my approach to design- my rule since day one has always been to find common ground with potential clients because I find that a connection leads to an easier time creating things from scratch. The past six years of doing this professionally have taken a lot of practice, sleepless nights, and a lot of satisfaction being a part of some crazy projects.
Can you walk us through your design process from the initial concept to the final output when you’re working on projects for artists and labels?
Personally, I love the freedom of creating from scratch the initial idea to the final artwork, because every client and every project is different. It all starts with my imagination, and it can get quite crazy.
Let’s say I am doing cover art for a song-When the projects come in, I listen to the song, and that’s where the ideas start flowing. I begin by freestyling in Cinema4D (a 3D software for animation). Once each design becomes more flushed out, I decide which one looks better and give one or more options to my client to see. These are the first drafts that are sent to the client, and that’s where the back and forth begins. Each project takes a different amount of time. Some are really quick because of my bond with the artist, so we are able to smash it straight away, and sometimes it takes a bit longer, but that’s all part of the game, and I love it.
Who are some of your favorite artists whose music has sparked creativity and new ideas for your design?
Well, the list is long, but some would be Skrillex, Modestep, Diplo, Major Lazer, Bonobo, and Four Tet.
Do you have a favorite piece of digital art or design project that you’ve created? What makes it special to you?
My favorite piece would, without a doubt, be the lyric video for “Numb” by Marshmello and Khalid. Three years before this project, I started working with Duke & Jones, who at that time were managed by the Shalizi Group (the same management team as Marshmello and I knew I wanted to work with him one day.
Fast forward a few years, and they emailed me asking if I could work on his lyric video. This project was so intense for me-Technically and physically. To be completely honest, It was a week of hell. I slept one or two hours a day and had to animate each scene individually, but the results were incredible, and I still remember the feeling of finishing it to this day. If you get a chance, check it out!
As a graphic designer who started out experimenting with many different tools and exploring your niche interest, you’ve certainly experienced significant growth. Would you have any tips for aspiring digital artists who are starting out in this medium?
First off, my main tip is to practice a lot. After that, I would say to always try different styles, test out new techniques, and just never stop creating-You can always learn something. Whether it’s a little project to fan art to Instagram reels, don’t be afraid to make something just for fun.
AI and other tools have begun to dominate the space in this artistic realm. Do you see any emerging trends or technologies that excite you for the future of the industry?
In each sector, from music to art, there are definitely some positives to AI, but there are also some negatives, and there are a lot of improvements to be made. One of the latest upgrades in the design world is Photoshop (Beta) which includes some AI features that could be really useful in the future for us artists and designers. I’m excited to see how things are going to change, but for now, I’m still relying on my own imagination.
Lastly, what’s your favorite part about being a graphic designer, and is there a particular project/ client you’ve always wanted to work with?
My favorite part of being a graphic designer is just being creative. For me, being able to create things for myself and others is something unique and amazing. My dream projects are being able to work with Skrillex and eventually open my own studio and collective of fellow creatives and designers when I move to LA next year.