Elena Gatti’s rise to success is one that every 25-year-old woman dreams of. It included the following: Harry Styles and leaving her day job to pursue her hobby full-time.
Just a few years ago, that was Gatti’s dream, too. Gatti graduated from the University of Illinois in 2019 after studying advertising and art and design. She entered the workforce right away, working in art direction at a big PR agency in Chicago. A mentor took a chance on her, and taught her the technical skills that would help her succeed in the industry. And she truly learned a lot, from Illustrator and Photoshop to working with real-world clients. At the end of the day, Gatti logged off and shut her computer. But she felt unfulfilled.
“I think right when I graduated, I was so unhappy with the routine of the nine-to-five,” Gatti said. “I knew it wasn’t for me, but I didn’t really know how to get out of it. I realized my way out could be art. If I work hard enough, then this could be a full-time career one day.”
The Grind is Real
Her rise to fame wasn’t overnight. It was a grind. After Gatti got off her nine-to-five, she spent the nights and weekends building Fiorenza Art. Gatti knew that lifestyle wasn’t sustainable, but it was what she had to do to live the life she wanted in the end – being a full-time artist.
So for three years, Gatti worked her butt off. She did whatever it took to carve her path through the rocky terrain of entrepreneurship. The pandemic, of all things, provided her a real breakthrough.
For so many creators, social media was really the only way they could share their work during covid. When people were looking to connect with art and a community of people who appreciated art, Gatti felt she had something to offer. So, she made a promise to herself to share content and make a new piece every single day.
After all, Gatti’s art is, as she describes it, “relatable with a modern flair.” A mix of fine art and graphic design, it’s meant to connect with the everyday person. Thanks to her Instagram, Gatti’s work started to make those conections, gaining a thousand new followers every single day.
Her Instagram success landed her a partnership with Casetify, a popular phone case company that began to highlight small artists’ work on cases. What happened next, Gatti said, was “something she could have never imagined.”
Harry Styles’ creative director saw her work on Casetify and quickly found more on social media. His team reached out asking her if she would like working with an artist, but there was a catch. She had to sign a non-disclosure agreement beforehand, without knowing who the artist would be.
Gatti signed a contract thinking that any opportunity was a good opportunity, no matter how big or small the artist would be. She never expected that this artist would be Styles. Gatti created the iconic bunnies that you have probably seen on his Love on Tour merch, on the big screen of his tour or on TikTok, where it blew up.
“When I found out it was Harry, I was shook,” Gatti said. “Definitely my biggest client to date. When I saw my art on the big screen at his Chicago concert, I wanted to take it all in. I only realized recently how big of a deal and how awesome of an accomplishment it was.”
Gatti continued her partnership with other artists like Mt. Joy, helping to create their merchandise. As a lover of music herself, the space is something that she wants to keep on creeping into.
Say Goodbye To Nine-to-Five
This past January, Gatti officially quit her nine-to-five. Her Fiorenza Art side gig suddenly became her entire life.
“It’s been so freeing. I’m doing what I want to do, which is make art every single day,” Gatti said. “I want to make art that connects people. That’s always been what I think my art is about is inviting people into this world I’ve created so they feel a little bit less alone. And as long as I kind of keep that as my North Star, then I think I’m gonna see success.”
And now almost four months later, Gatti is reaping the rewards of her hard work. Her latest triumph includes a partnership with Stance, the iconic underwear and sock brand, where she got to showcase her art on socks and T-shirts.
She has also joined the vibrant Chicago art scene by participating in numerous art and crafts shows, where she has not only exhibited her creations but also produced original works in front of an audience.
“There is such an awesome underground community that is growing everyday in Chicago,” Gatti said. “The group that I looked up to and admired, I now see myself a part of that little group now, which I am so grateful for.”
In just over four years, Fiorenza Art has earned Gatti a growing audience and success is coming quickly. Gatti documents her journey on social media, showcasing the everyday struggles and triumphs of making your passion your full-time gig.
And it hasn’t always been easy. Gatti has had to give herself a lot of grace, especially in the slower days where she’s not getting consistent work. But she knows it is all a part of the process. And like she has seen already, her hard work will pay off in the long run.
“I want to grow a name for myself where my art is sought after,” Gatti said. “I want my art to be in people’s dining rooms and kitchens, two places that are communal and bring people together. I dream of being in a New York gallery or having my own studio. It’s a dream, but I know it will happen one day.”
Gatti always had the support from friends and family to reach for the stars. And she similarly wants any creative to feel that push to chase their passion. If it weren’t for the hours that she put in after work or the sacrifices she made in her 20s, Gatti wouldn’t have the renowned experience that she can be proud of today.
“Don’t sleep on your dreams and don’t give up,” Gatti said. “There’s a reason why it’s in your gut. Your gut doesn’t lie to you. So you owe it to yourself to dive into whatever your passion is. Nothing has to be perfect. There’s so much more room for creativity, and interpretation in today’s age to just trust your gut and run with it. Fake it till you make it. That’s what I tell myself.”