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Marco Palena

Digital Journal of Illustration

Marco Palena

When did you start to dedicate to the world of illustrations?

  1. I have been drawing since I was a kid, but it was only a short time ago that I got into illustration. After completing my art studies (Art School and Faculty of Architecture), I did not cultivate my passion for drawing consistently because I wanted to experience something different. Then I discovered illustrated books through the works by Shaun Tan, Gabriel Pacheco, and a whole new world opened up before me, a world which I knew a little about. I thought the best way to make some experience and being noticed was to participate in a series of contests and selections, to end up publishing on magazines and several illustration catalogs.

How do you define your illustrations?

Evocative, dreamy, conceptual. I only draw who I am and what I feel around me, with a style that praises the spectator’s emotions. Basically, my illustrations rise from an emotion and a project. The emotion that emerges from reading a text,  is what I want to convey.

What can you tell me about your publications or books? What is the latest?

My drawings were published in the ILLUSTRATI magazine by Logos Editions and on several catalogs.
The latest one is a poster entitled “Bookshops in blossom” which won the first in the advertising category of the Italian Illustrators Annual 2017.

With what technique are you more comfortable?

Graphite and digital. I mainly freehand draw using graphite, but most of my works are retouched using photoshop. Sometimes it happens that I need to put a background or an object or something else, so I have to assemble and disassemble.
I believe that being able to make thousands of changes to a drawing using digital technology gives you a lot of creative freedom. And this is exciting.

Have you published outside your country?

No

How is the children’s publishing industry in your country?

I think that the most successful publishing segment in Italy was that of children and teenagers, especially in the illustration industry. There are many factors why children and youth literature is growing. One strength is the quality of products, which has been significantly rising in the latest years, thanks to the efforts of the publishing companies. However, I firmly believe that the so-called “children’s books” are not for children only, but have a much wider audience; while books that are not considered to be specifically “for children” can still be read by them, too. Illustrated books are for everybody.

Who are some of the other artists you take inspiration from? One of my favorites is Caravaggio because of the way he interpreted the chiaroscuro technique and his mastery in playing with light.
Rather than inspiration, what I feel is deep admiration that I feel for several illustrators: Shaun Tan, Gabriel Pacheco, Ana Juan, Roger Olmos.

Inspiration is everywhere, though. There is your visual memory, a data bank, your own personal museum: that’s where it all comes from, and then I try to give my personal vision of what I feel.

What is your best piece of advice for young artists who are getting started as creators of children`s books?

I have been making illustrations for a few years and I don’t think I am in the position to give advice. Based on my experience, I would say tenacity and patience; working hard and not hurrying; having a good master who helps you get the real you out, without imposing his style on you; having a great deal of self-criticism; watching nature a lot and deeply; being curious so that you can reinterpret the real world through your sensitiveness and give your personal version of it.

“Illustrating is a fantastic way to observe life,” says Gabriel Pacheco.
And to do this, you need to find your own style which not only makes you recognizable but rather creates an emotion in the readers.

 

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