What Matters: Matteo Bologna on the Laundry List of Things He Hates (and Loves) About Himself

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Debbie Millman has started a new project at PRINT titled “What Matters.” This is an ongoing effort to understand the interior life of artists, designers, and creative thinkers. This facet of the project is a request of each invited respondent to answer 10 identical questions, and submit a decidedly nonprofessional photograph.

Matteo is the founder and creative director of New York-based branding studio Mucca, a singular personality and industry leader whose multidisciplinary background has helped him build one of the most respected companies in design. He is a former board member of AIGA NY and president emeritus of the Type Directors Club that, through his focused but fun-loving approach, has earned strong client partnerships across countless industries, including Sephora, Barnes & Noble, Target, WeWork, Whole Foods, Adobe Systems, the legendary Balthazar in NY, and many others.

What is the thing you like doing most in the world?

Hiding from my inner world by working in the real world.

What is the first memory you have of being creative?

Sculpting an ashtray (!!!!) for my father and mother in Kindergarten with Das Modeling Clay. It was in the ‘70s.

What is your biggest regret?

(redacted)

How have you gotten over heartbreak?

I’ve actually never gotten over heartbreak.

What makes you cry?

Injustice and bullies. And I cry for real at least once a week. It may be a sign that there is too much injustice and too many bullies?

How long does the pride and joy of accomplishing something last for you?

What’s that?

Do you believe in an afterlife, and if so, what does that look like to you?

I do not believe in the afterlife, but my Catholic upbringing tricks me into thinking that when I die, I’ll see my father again in paradise. My rational mind says that it’s a bunch of bullshit for idiots. But my irrational ego tells me not to believe the rational mind. And it is wonderfully comforting to give up and trust the latter.

What do you hate most about yourself?

My stupid jokes, my weak chin, my inability to write well in English or Italian (my native language), the inability to concentrate on something for more than a fraction of a second, and the fact that I cannot talk to my mother about my dad (her dead husband) because I don’t want to cry and I don’t want to make her cry. I wish I was a perfect father who made his daughters happy all the time. That I have to please everyone and be responsible for everything and everyone around me, that I’m irresponsible, and I always forget things I said a minute ago. My stupid jokes, that I laugh at my jokes, that I get angry, that I long for the past times I used to hate, that I should be really caring for kerning, that recently I’ve considered liking Optima, that I cannot be present, that salad gets stuck in my teeth, that I do not like pop music and view everyone who likes it an idiot, that I’m judgemental.

What do you love most about yourself?

All of the above.

What is your absolute favorite meal?

Japanese food in Japan. Italian food in the USA.