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Daniela Dogliani

Daniela Dogliani

Daniela Dogliani Interview

Daniela Dogliani

Children's Illustrator

Who or what made you want to become an illustrator?

I've always been drawn to storytelling, nothing hooks me more than an image telling a good story. No matter if it's an amazing piece of art or just a doodle scribbled talking at the phone: if there's a story in it, I'm in! I remember in primary school, watching pictures of primitive paintings, I was so fascinated by how our ancestors depicted their lives, their need to tell their stories through images. I totally relate!

Did you attend art school or undertake any other formal artistic training?

I graduated from Torino’s Fine Arts Academy with a Bachelor Fine Arts degree and a MSc in Visual Communication. Studied art, illustration and animation, design, painting, costuming and filming, and more creative fields.

Was creativity part of your childhood?

Yes and no. I didn't grow into a creative environment, yet I've been so lucky to grow free and able to pursue imagination. I owe to my parents never to question my thirst and curiosity: I used to made up stories and worlds, to play roles, create fancy costumes and spend hours drawing and retelling my favourite stories. They have always welcomed my unconventional attitude and I've felt free to experiment.

Have you always loved to draw?

As far as I can remember, yes.

Who or what have been some of your major artistic influences?

I'm an 80's child, and this explains much of my creative world. My universe is made by VHS, books and comics, Sundays at the Cinema and cartoons tv broadcast. All fuelled by living in Italy, immersed into incredible art, and years studying art history.

Which books from your own childhood really stand out?

I loved Richard Scarry and his characters, my favourite being Zigo Zago (Lowly Worm) because it was fun and dressed like a Tyrolese. Also, growing up I discovered Roald Dahl universe and got lost into it. But there's one book I still cherish, it's an Italian book from a series: "Geo e Gea nella Preistoria" (Geo and Gea into Prehistory written/illustrated by Federico e Francesca Santin) where two kids travel in time and witness dinosaurs age. What fascinated me - aside from all those amazing dinosaurs' facts - was the combination of scientific illustration with the two stylised characters.

What was your first commission as a professional illustrator?

I was working as designer, with some freelance illustrator side-jobs, when I decided to pursue an illustration career. I did a lot of spec, tests and been pitched for jobs I didn't get, until an Italian magazine trusted me to illustrate their stories, back in 2011, and we are still working together! More, in 2018 they also trusted my author/illustrator skills, and I currently write and illustrate short stories for them, which I'm very grateful to do!

Describe your working technique and how you came to perfect it.

I start with pencil and paper, or actually whatever is on hand and paper. And draw a very rough thumbnail, usually more than one: this is a very rough stage where I put down thoughts and ideas. Then I scan the thumbnail and do some proper sketch, to present to the client. When working for a book I also do some characters and background research too, this stage is messy yet highly creative to me. Once all is settled starts the coloring and finishing.

Though working digitally I do paint my illustrations: picking brushes, papers, textures and colours, mixing effects and tools, just like I would on paper. I love colour pencils, pastels and markers and I'm constantly studying to make my digital art feel as true as possible.

Do you keep a sketch book?

No. I own many beautiful sketchbooks, all of them sport a couple of happy sketches among blank pages and frustrated scrowls. All are fat with pinned paper, glued memos, post-it, sketches made beside shopping lists, train tickets... I thought it was fear of the blank page at first, now I realize I simply feel caged in a sketchbook so I started filling folders instead.

How many times do you tend to draw a character until you are happy with it?

Sometimes it just tumble out of the pencil, it is a glorious day when your imagination and hand sync perfectly. Some other times it requires some digging through and much pencil and rubber consuming.

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Which project has been most instrumental in developing your personal style?

When I was on the fence between my designer job and pursuing a freelance illustrator career, I happened into a celebrative contest about Gianni Rodari's "La Grammatica della Fantasia" (the Grammar of Fantasy), his writing was so enlighting that everything simply poured out of me and I had the chance to resolve my artistic struggles, conquering confidence in my storytelling ability.

Talk us through the process of creating one of your latest illustrations or books.

One of my favourite classic fairytales is "Beauty and the Beast" and I've been totally blown away by Disney's live action that, for quite a time, bits of it kept dancing in my mind. Here are a few sketches to finals illustrations. All these were personal work, yet they led me to work on many lovely fairytale projects.

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What do you hope children take away from your drawings?

I hope they can identify and relate with the characters, enjoy the story within the illustration and feel at home, but with a twist.

What does a typical day in the studio look like for you?

My day starts early, reviewing personal and family tasks, and answering urgent emails. After dropping the kids at school, I hit the studio and proceed with scheduled work. I usually take a break for some walk at the park and resume schedule. If I'm hard on a deadline I spend the whole day drawing for it, if not my afternoon work is dedicated to personal development, paperwork, research, promotion, financials and all side jobs you have to do as a freelance. Then I pick up the kids and play.

Share your favourite piece of artwork from your portfolio and walk us through its creation.

This piece literally poured out of me! I was on a deadline, when bits of ideas kept running in my mind so I had to pin them randomly for later. While waiting for feedbacks I opened my Pinterst board, where I randomly pin inspiration, and there was: classic fairytales from illustration Golden Age, beautiful landscapes, random objects, cute animals, colour palettes, and numbers of colourful gipsy wagons.

Why, couldn't dwarfs live in a wagon? I worked on this over two days, from concept to finish, and it's been a joy!

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Which 4 words would you use to describe your illustration portfolio?

colorful, joyful, bold, heartfelt

Outline your dream project.

I have a full list of dream projects!

From working on some "Ancient Testament" Bible story, to be trusted with carrying on the characters for a series of middle grade books, and to develop that board-book I'm thinking about...

Are you an author/illustrator?

I am, and studying to further develop my writing skills.
l would love to become skilled enough to write for middle graders, I totally fell in love with books thanks to adventures classic (have been a Goonie all my life), it would be an awesome dream to be able to pass on some great adventures!
 

What’s the best piece of advice anyone has ever given you?

focus on what you are doing

How important is it for you to be part of a creative community of people?

I love connecting with fellows and am very glad for internet making it easier, for worldwide freelances to connect.

How do you overcome a creative block?

Doing everything but drawing. Contact with nature, dramatic declutter and physical exhaustion works with me, but everyone has to find what works best for her.

Are there any children’s classics you’d love to illustrate and/or re-tell?

The Black Arrow by Robert Louis Stevenson

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