Let Thoughts Flow Naturally
Could you give us a bit of background on your work and education? When did you start working as an illustrator?
My education was traditional. I graduated from Artistic High School and then graduated with an illustration degree from the European Design Institute. As a student I started making covers for comic magazines after which I got into advertising; for about ten years I worked as a storyboard artist for a major advertising agency.
Tired of being "invisible" and working at the behest of others, I started participating in contests (winning at times) and putting my works on illustrator sites. From that point on people started contacting me to offer me work, which in turn led to further success.
Your work is deeply personal: a sort of record of your emotions, thoughts and experiences. Could you explain a bit about the process and conceptsinvolved in your work?
I do not have a certain process for creating an image. At least I’m not aware of the process I use to create an illustration. Surely, the quality of the work I produce is the result of years of experience, work, study, and what we could call "inspiration" for the sake of convenience. In creating an illustration, there is a kind of analytical and emotional study of the subject involved, after which I just let the images flow through my imagination. Let's say that the ideal way of creating an image - as far as I'm concerned - is thinking directly in terms of images. When creating an illustration it's a good idea to let thoughts flow naturally because then the image will crystalize and result in a more authentic work. I believe that ideally one’s work should naturally be born from an initial spark to crystallize into a definitive image, because even if the initial idea is complicated and full of subtexts the image will not be too rigid or complex.
How do your ideas originate and how do they transform into books?
Reading is fundamental to an illustrator. Great attention and care are needed to translate the words written on the page into another language (i.e. the “language” of illustration), which is why l read, study, research, and look for documentations... I lay the necessary groundwork to adhere to the texts in my illustrations without depicting a simple reiteration of the words on the page.
How do you decide what to include and what not to include in the book?
Even here, throughout my creative process, there is no established rule. In my illustrations I certainly try to avoid communicating the same information present in the texts. Instead, I look for a new narration, something that may reduce the reader’s sense of security or transport him/her into an imaginary world that does not belong to him. Often, illustrations console the public (i.e. they pander to the demands of society), but I do not consider the ethical role of the artist to be as such.
Which technique are you more comfortable with? Do you prefer handmade techniques or digital ones? Please tell us about that.
I do not have a preference. [The choice of a technique] depends on your needs. The technique should enable you to be expressive yet practical. I usually try not to make a choice (any choice) just because it is more convenient. I prefer decisions to be dictated solely by creative needs. The traditional and digital techniques complement one another in that each uses a part of the other. My work starts from an initial sketch, which does not have to be perfect, but must have fluid movements and signs in addition to capturing an equilibrium in the medium in which I work.
I then proceed to constructing the image by using portions of photographic materials, which are first processed digitally and then with acrylic paint. I conclude my work by putting the finishing touches on the computer. Sometimes the whole process is completed digitally through Painter and Photoshop.
How important is technique?
Technique is important because it represents my language, my voice. To better express what I mean, I need to know all the rules of the language I speak, such as the grammatical and vocabulary nuances. Technique is important even if you choose an iconographic language (i.e. style) outside an academic environment.
I see you have done many illustrations for adults as well as for Which one do you prefer?
I do not restrict myself in expressing my creativity, however, it seems that the world of childhood illustrations is a little "blocked" for me. I find the world of adult illustrations more welcoming due to the presence of complex narratives and intriguing language structures.
My illustrations are not easily interpreted and are often not reassuring, so publishers base their decisions on industry conventions to asses which of my illustrations get published. Fortunately, I have many people who are fascinated by my poetry. It's always very satisfying for me when my works achieve great success.
What special characteristics do adult illustrations have?
I do not know. I do not make any special considerations in drawing illustrations for adults. Of course, as I have said before, the world of the adult illustrations belongs mostly to me because I express myself artistically using more sophisticated imagery ... but inevitable I have to be faithful to my poetry when creating illustrations.
What would you say is your strongest skill as an illustrator?
Sometimes it seems to me that it is an important skill to be able to produce conventional images and to respond to the demands of those who look at them. It almost seems that mediocrity is a rewarding trait. Thankfully such is not always the case, however, because there are many artists who enlighten their audience’s eyes and mind. For me it is an ethical question. I am still convinced that those who create art must enrich the imagination of the public, not comfort them or reassure them with what they already know.
What are some trends or visual styles you appreciate in contemporary illustrations?
I do not particularly appreciate any current trends. I appreciate the quality of work of individual artists. There is a tendency to conform to what the market requires, which causes artists to become victims of the market and it’s demands. Such conditions never create freedom but instead subjugate the artists and drive art to extinction. I remain mostly interested in the illustrator/author when it comes to the industry.
Which factors should illustrators keep in mind when trying to find ways to improve their work?
The process of studying, searching, and translating into images all that which nourishes the imagination of an illustrator. It is useless to reproduce the fruits of other people’s imagination just because it is exciting to do so or because such works become fashionable. Really try to be yourself even though it may be a risk. Do away with your sense of security and conventions. Follow these principles all time.