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October 30, 2020

Illustrator Federico Tramonte Adds a Dash of the Surreal to Everyday Life

Note from Odeko - You may have noticed that we use illustrations to help tell our story or mobile ordering and supply chain management for coffee shops. Federico Tramonte is the artist that makes these amazing illustrations. This is his story.

Lockdown wasn’t easy for Federico Tramonte. The Milan-based illustrator was trapped for six weeks in his apartment when Italy finally locked down, and gone were the concerts, the walks, all of the things that he’d moved to Milan from Venice to enjoy. “I grew up in Venice,” Tramonte says. “But Milan is life.” 

During this time, Tramonte began to create an entirely new drawing style for himself. Instead of long walks through the beautiful streets of Milan, he began to take virtual walks using Google Street View. He traveled in this way to the United States, to other European countries, to Asia. He began drawing scenes captured by Google’s Street View car cameras and adding his own elements—a costumed hero lying on a derelict yard, a giant reptile perching on the roof of a house. The result is “In the Neighborhood,” a collection that blends the surreal with the all-too-real.

That’s the style that drew Odeko to him. There’s a playfulness to Tramonte’s style, dash of the absurd, the unorthodox, in every scene he draws. “I’m trying to bring magic to the ordinary,” he says, and that’s especially true for his Odeko work, which you can see all over the Odeko site.

Tramonte’s a lifelong comics and sci-fi fan, and his style is inspired by the heavy shadows and bold colors in his favorite work. He uses shadow, in particular, to suggest, and to serve as a bridge between the ordinary world and those more unorthodox or absurdist elements. The tone of these pieces borrows from comics luminaries like Chris Ware, bringing a hint of irony into each scene. “You need a balance,” Tramonte says. “Some irony, a bit of sadness, some weird stuff—but not scary-weird.”

Tramonte wasn’t always an illustrator. For years, he worked in IT at a large bank, sketching underneath his desk and dreaming of the day he could do that for a living. Finally, he was able to break free and begin doing work for ad agencies, which allowed him to develop multiple different styles to adapt to his clients’ needs.

During the last several years, though, Tramonte has noticed that corporate design has lost any semblance of humanity. “It’s a very clean style, and I can do that,” he says. “It’s just a bit soulless.” With his work for Odeko, he’s been given free rein to inject a real soul into these illustrations, to give a sense that there’s craft and care behind every aspect of the company—as well as a sense of fun.

The ultimate irony, especially given that Tramonte is Italian through and through, is that he’s had to cut back on his coffee consumption. “I used to be a bit of an addict,” he says. But the caffeine became a bit much for his heart to deal with, and now he mostly slurps decaf throughout the day. 

Worry not, though: “I still have my cappuccino in the morning and my espresso after dinner,” he says.

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