Tuesday, July 11, 2006
Tell me a little bit about yourself, about your life? Where did you go to school, and what classes did you study? What helped prepare you to become the artist that you are today?
I attended art classes in Tuscany: first at the college of arts in Lucca and then at the “Accademia delle belle Arti” (Arts Academy) in Carrara. It was here that I learnt how to use oil colours and where I studied the human anatomy. In 1998 the Disney studios in Milan organised a course in drawing techniques of comics. I passed the admission tests and went on to attend a 9 months course at the end of which I was given the opportunity to do some work for Disney.
I started by drawing poppies and mice….
I have no doubts that working for a big company such as Disney was a big step forward in my profession. The quality of the work along with the pressure of meeting the publishing dead lines had been a real challenge and a perfect “training school”. Above all though, my passion for design and the history of arts has always been strong and it is thanks to this passion that I have been able to become the artist I am today.
How do you go about designing a character and what goes through your mind from the start through to the end?
It all starts with a blank page, a pencil and the character as the storywriter describes.
I begin to visualise it in my mind and I sketch this idea on the page. I then go back to it adding more and more detail trying to make that first sketch as clear as possible. Whatever this character is (good or bad, wicked or strong, quite or loud) it has to be clear at first glance.
All of my characters have some of me inside them, my personal experience, the people I am close to or simply the people I’ve met. I take into account the character’s behaviour and I draw it while I am thinking of somebody I know. So if it is a good character it is almost natural to think about a friend and a bad character, a person that I don’t like…
There are many other things that intervene when designing a character. Your own education, your life and experiences and surely for me and many other artists the magic of Disney has also had an effect. Sometimes I wish I were able to draw characters of people and animals that are completely original. Characters that come from my own imagination and feelings, free from any cultural and corporate influences.
Despite restraints it is only natural for an artist to put his own experience and education in to his work. I feel it is important and I remind myself to view and experience a diverse selection of artists.
What really helps you when you are designing a character?
A good script helps greatly. A complete script with as much scene detail and dialog as possible. The character then becomes complete and alive when interacting with the other characters of the piece.
From your own experience and maybe from the people that you know what should we include and not included in our portfolio?
I think that only the work that we are really pleased with should go in the portfolio. Deep inside we know when something is really beautiful or only just well done. Only the things that have the Wow factor should go into your portfolio.
From my experience I can give you a couple of tips…..
When putting a portfolio together you should remember to alternate a sketch with a coloured design. This will indicate to the experienced that your work is the result of a lot of hard study and effort. For the non-experienced their eyes are filled with colour, expression and life.
The key is to be flexible, have a wide range of cartoons and cartoon styles available. This will enable you to put together a portfolio meeting almost all types of editor requirements and likes.
Can you give an insight of some of the things that you have worked on?
So far I have worked on comics for Disney who have published these across the world (Witch). In the past I have also designed comic strips of the “Flintstones” and I have collaborated and coloured the comic “Lilo & Stitch”. I am pleased and proud to have had a book called “Richard Coeur De Lion” published in France. In the future I really would like to have the opportunity to work in animation and film.
Is there a character design that you have done that you are most proud of?
I don’t have a favourite character in particular but I feel that I have done quite a nice job designing and drawing a few of the supporting characters in the comic “Richard Coeur de Lion”.
However, after some time has past and I revisit a finished story I always feel that the characters could do with a further finishing touch or two.
What are you currently working on?
At this moment in time I am working on multiple different projects. I am working on humorous comic strip depicting the game and players of tennis. Then there is the second sequel to” Richard Coeur De Lion”. I am also engaged on a three page comic based on a French singer’s song. The French publishing company Soleil will be publishing this along with other designers work. I am designing half of a comic for “Witch” and lastly I have some covers for a few monthly Disney editions and other Italian publishing companies to design.
If you had the choice where in the world would you like to work?
I would like to live and work in Connecticut but I honestly think that I would miss the Italian food too much! I must say that Viareggio, the town where I live and work, is very nice. I currently have a small but functional studio. It would be great to have some more space to spread out a little more.
Who do you consider to be the top character designers?
My favourite designer is Carl Barks because he had the skill and ability to bring his characters to life. Other top designers and favourites of mine are T.S. Sullivant, Alex Raymond, Floyd Gotfredson, Chuck Jones and the wonderful Norman Rockwell. Inspirational and present today I would say Denis Bodart, Stephen Silver, Ashley Wood, Craig Mullins, John Nevarez, Giorgio Cavazzano, Corrado Mastantuono, Alessandro Barbucci, Alex Ross, Gibrat, Sergio Toppi, Bill Watterson and many more……
How do you go about colouring the character and, what kinds of tools do you use.
I use my computer a lot: most of all Photoshop and Corel Painter. When I have time and to enjoy myself I use traditional watercolours.
When designing a character, which are easy parts, provide the most fun and which are the hard parts?
The rough sketch is without doubt the hardest point but it is also the most creative and passionate part. The detail definition of the character may become boring but I know that it’s the detail that completes the piece as it helps to pull everything together.
From the characters that you have seen which are your favourites and which are your least favourite designs.
I like those characters that don’t have a main role in the story. On these characters I can let myself go and use my fantasy. Yes, I have to say that I really like those characters that may appear only once or twice in the background. I’m not keen on the characters that because of the part they play they have to be beautiful, fashionable, perfect in every way.
What is your most favourite subject to draw and why?
As a child I have always loved animals. I grew up watching animals documentaries on television. I watch animals at every opportunity, their expressions their movement. I love to draw animals.
What inspired you to become an artist?
Early on I found I could draw…
Drawing came naturally to me more than anything else. I enjoyed being able to draw a person or an animal without looking at them just using my memory and experience: it is a good exercise. I got great pleasure from drawing, I was encouraged as I was good at it. Most of all I wanted to improve on what I had...
What are some of the neat things you have learnt from other artists that you have worked with or seen?
Everything. I have learnt everything from other artists. Watching real life is a fantastic way to learn to design but watching other designers work is essential to learn the job. Sometimes certain designs impress me so much that I have to find out why. Often I find that a certain colouring or combination of colours depicts perfectly the feeling of the situation. Or it’s at other times a particular pose or expression will capture the exact feeling of a character. It’s like having a number of free suggestions on how to improve your own work.
Do you have any words of wisdom about being an artist? Do you have any tips for us?
To become an artist you need to forget that you want to become an artist. There is a lot of hard work and study to be done. You need to know the techniques and all the different anatomic and prospective notions up to the point that they come naturally. I would suggest to always be very open to real life. Widen your education as much as possible enabling you to reproduce what you see, feel and experience in a most personal way. There are no tricks or short cuts. Our job is to create beautiful images that defines beauty and at the same time teaches the beholder.
Can people contact you? What’s the best way for people to contact you?
I am more than happy for people to contact me. The best way is through my blog information and my email address can be found there.
I try my best to update my blog fortnightly.
Finally do you have any of your artwork for sale (Sketchbook, Prints, or anything) so that people who like your work can know when and where they can buy it.
At presently I only have the book “Richard Coeur de Lion – Saint Jean d’Acre” that has been published and printed in France by Soleil Production. Copies can be purchased from
and here http://www.amazon.ca/exec/obidos/ASIN/2849460737/qid=1144050057/sr=1-12/ref=sr_1_0_12/702-0690502-4428048