Updated: Feb 1
After 26 years in a small town in Bari, Italy, Sergio D. Spadavecchia returned to his hometown of Toronto in 2011, with 3 months worth of savings, a hope and a prayer. Five years later, he presents to you InSpades Magazine, a magnum opus to 20 years of fervor, devotion, and an eventual belief in self.
The Spadavecchia name is synonymous with “creativity”. Born of an artistic family, Spadavecchia’s blood runs red with acrylics and oils, his skin stained of charcoal and salt, clothing splattered in developer and stop bath. He carries a heart that beats with a relentless burning desire to create and a determined mind that bulldozes endlessly forward, unyieldingly toward perfection.
The one thing he lacked was belief.
“Working in Italy was almost impossible. You worked days on end for months, hoping someone would eventually pay you...but they very rarely did or only for an insultingly small fraction of the work.” Spadavecchia explained. “I worked for some of the biggest and best companies in the world, but there still was no future there, the basic structure simply did not allow for it. I then had to make a choice, stay with what I’d known all my life, stay with a life that was less than what I wanted, but was ‘safe’, and what everyone else I knew was willing to settle for...or I could leave, and maybe fail, likely fail, but at least try to be more - be the person I knew I really was.”
So he made his choice and left. When a minimum wage worker here can make more than a NASA rocket scientist there, one gets a sense of the kind of demoralization that would undoubtedly wreak havoc on one’s psyche over time. Having given up much of his childhood English language for Italian, the language barrier was another immediate blow to his confidence, coupled with loneliness and entirely new daily milieu, the transition was anything but easy.
“I didn’t know how to express myself, I was always concerned about saying the wrong thing. I didn’t know how to meet people and make friends. It was the same thing when I first went to Italy as a child, I was behind all the other kids because I didn’t speak the language. They threatened to hold me back but I refused, I knew if I worked hard enough I could catch up, and I did.
Suddenly, I had to do it all over again, only I wasn’t a kid, if I didn’t get up to par, I wasn’t going to get a job, and I was going to run out of money and out of chances.”
Spadavecchia pounded the pavement, delivering over 600 awkwardly worded resumes by hand. He had only one month worth of rent left, when he received a call for a position as an Art Director for a national magazine. Very quickly he was promoted to Creative Director, and in less than two years, created his own art, design and photography company: Creative Spades. Now he has partnered with the Pr0ject_Uno family to collaborate on InSpades Magazine, a platform that allow people like him, opportunities he never had. InSpades Magazine is not the first magazine I have created,” Spadavecchia divulges, “In Italy, I created Square Magazine, a hardcover publication that was unique, I had the only magazine that could display a model across a 60cm span, companies like Gattinoni, Pronovias, Francesca Forni, La Perla, Paré, Guess and Valentino Sposa loved that. I even incorporated an image is Issue 0 of InSpades that was my first cover of Square Magazine, as a symbol of resurrection.”
Spadavecchia’s journey was long and challenging, but the most important thing he learned was not how to overcome the challenges of the outside world, but the realization that he himself decides them.
“The outside world will always be what it is, but I decide my reality, my choices and my perspective—it’s not what the world throws at me that counts, it’s how I choose to respond that makes the difference. I have worked hard all my life...it never made a difference. It’s not working hard that creates success, it’s working smart. It was hard for me to accept that concept at first, I always looked at my past experiences to determine the likelihood of my future experiences, but they are not related. Once I started to understand, I couldn’t unlearn it, and it began to snowball.”
Once Spadavecchia focused his tried and true determination on that which truly mattered, he found himself quickly in the shoes of the person he always wanted to be. Now he has a successful career as a photographer, creative director and entrepreneur, is happily married with a beautiful daughter, surrounded by inspiring people and supported by devoted friends. Now, instead of simply working hard, he spends his days encouraging others to believe in themselves, so that they too can one day, be their best self, the self they always knew themselves to be.