What a nice coincidence that Patty Moramarco-Cerrato, whose birth doctor insisted she be called Patty because she was born on March 17, appears on this week’s cover, just in time for St. Patrick’s Day. After graduating from Commack High School she went to work for the Internal Revenue Service, but she always loved to draw. With a good friend, she left the IRS and escaped to Florida. She enrolled at Broward Community College, where she earned a degree in fine art.
On the advice of an instructor in an advertising class, she went to the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, a move that Moramarco-Cerrato says “changed my art world life.” However, as a native New Yorker with a dream to design for the motion picture industry, she came back to the city and pounded the pavement with her portfolio. At the same time, she started classes at the School of Visual Arts and studied figure drawing at the Art Students League. Lo, after 50 interviews, she landed her dream job. She was hired as associate art director and production coordinator in the advertising and publicity department for United Artists (UA) Films, and found herself working alongside many of the illustrators she’d studied with at the Art Institute.
You’ve said your maiden name, “Moramarco,” refers to the artist, while “Cerrato” stands for your business manager side. Would you elaborate?
When I was at the Art Institute in Florida I would sign my work “Patty M,” but my instructor said, you are becoming an artist for profit, sign your full name. So I did. It was an inspiration to me when I worked with leading illustrators at UA and with the finest photographers, heads of graphic design studios and ad agency executives. I got to work in all media. I also freelanced, doing animated station ID for Channel 13, challenging work because animation was done then by hand-painting cells. I did move out to L.A. and freelanced with several boutique agencies and was offered a position at Diener Hauser Bates, the world’s largest motion picture advertising agency where one of my former bosses at UA had worked. The position was as account executive, and I got solid experience in coordinating the production of motion picture art, doing ad campaigns for major companies and managing an art studio. But I missed New York, and my long distance phone bills were killing my budget.
How have you been evolving over recent years?
When I got back to New York, I took on some freelance jobs, got married and adopted a beautiful girl, Meechie. But I had a car accident that turned my life around. At about the same time, an old friend invited me to come out east to paint. I hadn’t painted in such a long time I didn’t think I could do it, but my friend thought painting would be therapeutic. I also started taking classes with a group in Eastport, working in acrylic. When I’m painting I’m in another mind set and I don’t think about the pain I have from the many surgeries after the accident. When I’m painting water, Vanderbilt Beach and Huntington Bay, for example [this week’s cover] I’m in that water, feeling every brush stroke.
What advice would you give young aspiring artists?
Younger artists always ask, “can I do this for a living?” My answer is, you’ll always be in and out of work. I would strongly suggest they study the basics, particularly drawing. They’re computer savvy. I wasn’t at that age. But they don’t appreciate the importance of knowing how to do a hand drawing. Even the [Fort Lauderdale] Art Institute, which I visited not too long ago, surprised me. There were computers in every room but no classrooms for drawing. And, of course, I’d say to them, have fun with art. I do.
Patti Moramarco-Cerrato is working on a website. In the meantime, she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.