World: My Portfolio - Dante Ariola

The New Yorker Dante Ariola has a fascination for graffiti. Before directing, he set up his own graphic and web design company, Pawn Shop Press, and created album covers for several leading record labels. Then he directed music videos, and, after his work was seen by the commercials industry, his career in advertising took off. After just three years directing commercials, in 2001, he was nominated as best commercials director of the year by the Directors' Guild of America.

Ariola likes his ads to be a bit strange. "I try to get my hands on slightly mad scripts," he says. Last year, he directed "giants" for Volkswagen through DDB London, which won at this year's British Television Advertising Awards. The spot involves a mouse-sized woman driving a Polo through a house to avoid a cat. "I was trying to capture the cheesy, B-movie quality," Ariola says.

Another of Ariola's award-winning campaigns, for XM Radio, used only a little in the way of computer graphics. Surprising, because in one spot you see David Bowie falling through a building, in another records, footballs and cars rain down from the sky.

His work for Budget Rental Cars took a gold Lion at Cannes in 2000. The ads have a bizarre feel, which is partly created through long, steady shots of executives round a table. "I don't move the camera and it feels intense," Ariola says.

The influence of his design background comes across in his "signs" spot for Sony PlayStation, which features a lone man and uses de-saturated colours and surreal images. "Man alone," Ariola says, "that's a graphic thing to shoot." He creates what he describes as an eeriness. "Even when he's in a crowd, there are people streaming by but not looking at the camera - there's no interaction."

Ariola also has a place in Campaign's own hall of fame, having featured in its best quotes of the year for 2001, saying: "People being electrocuted and just violent things, to me, are funny." Much of his work has a darker side, but he says that the more daring executions mostly happened during those heady, riskier days of the dotcom bubble.

- Dante Ariola was talking to Pippa Considine.


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