How and why did you decide to pursue illustration as your career?
It has been a relatively recent decision, but mulled over for many, many years!
I always wanted to work related to art and design, and I have always had a pencil in my hand, since a very early age. However, I trained as a graphic designer and kept illustration as a hobby until only a couple of years ago, when I realised my full time job was too stressful and didn't satisfy me from a creative point of view.
Did you attend art school or undertake any other formal artistic training?
I studied Visual Arts and Theatre Studies in Italy, and have an MA in Graphic Design. But I attended several short and intensive courses in Illustration, both in Italy and the UK.
Life changing was a summer course at the Scuola Internazionale di Illustrazione di Sarmede (Italy), with Svjetlan Junakovic - Croatian master of illustration!
Where do you currently live and where did you grow up?
I grew up in Venice, Italy, and I have been based in London, UK, since 2011.
Was creativity part of your childhood?
Yes. Since I was a toddler, I enjoyed more sitting on my own and playing with crayons - rather than playing ball games with other children (although, I did eventually learn the joys of sociability too!).
My family also were quite creative. My grandfather was a keen hobbist painter and passed his passion on to my aunts and my mother, who eventually stopped drawing and began writing children's book stories instead. I was a teenager then, and often illustrator friends of my mum would come by to discuss projects with her, and I would often watch their fascinating artworks.
What is your favourite medium to work with and why?
I have tried a bit of everything in the years, from acrylics to purely digital painting. Recently though, I have settled using watercolour inks, as the main medium. Then I use coloured pencils, crayons, pastels...everything and anything! Even bleach!
Where do you get the ideas for your characters?
Usually from little sketches done quite absentmidedly... When not working on client's briefs or on a specific self-initiated project, I often pull up some random animals images from the internet and start sketching... And from there I start wondering: who is this little creature? What's their story? Why are they looking sad? Where are they running? A story often comes from this.
What advice would you offer someone just starting out as a children’s illustrator?
I am still very much starting out!
I would say: don't be in a rush. Finding work is important, but more important is that you are happy with the work you are producing. Ultimately, we are all in this profession because we want to make something that is ours, and ours only, for the world to see, but that says "ME!" from every mark. So, don't be in a rush, take a deep breath and paint from your heart!
What are some of your favourite subjects to draw?
Animals feature heavily in children’s books – do you have a pet?
I have an imaginary cat - does that count?