Andrea Alemanno

Andrea Alemanno

Andrea Alemanno Interview

Andrea Alemanno

Children's Illustrator

Where do you currently live and where did you grow up?

Very hard question for me! I moved to many cities. I was born in Naples, then my family moved to Lecce, named "Florence of south Italy" for its Baroque architectures, then moved to Taranto, Macerata, Valencia, Florence and at the end I live in Mantua a little city between Verona and Milan.

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Have you always loved to draw?

YES! I started to draw following my brother's sketches!
I never thought that a passion would become a wonderful job!

Which books from your own childhood really stand out?

The book really stands out is been the first book that I've read: Lord of the rings. I was astonished from how those words became imagine in my head. I guess that I've read this book twelve times.

Do you have a favourite picture book or recall one of the first picture books you saw?

One of my favorite picture books is Jumanji. I totally felt in love for the illustrations and the tale. Obviously, the movie is one of my favorites too.

Who or what has been your greatest mentor?

John Howe and Alan Lee. Their paintings was a follow for my imagination and technique. In November 2018 I have a great honor to meet them! The thrill was too much that my legs trembled!

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What was your first commission as a professional illustrator?

The first commission was an educational book published by Blackcat Cideb publishing about the White Rose, a group of student that tried to contrast the Nazis in Berlin. 
Very strong story.

Do you keep a sketch book?

I keep a lot of Sketchbooks! Sometimes I have a blank sketchbook and I wait to have a good idea to start on it. For example, I have a very old Watercolour sketchbook (I guess have 20years old) completely empty because I'm waiting to have a good project to start it (maybe childrensillustrators could help me!)

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

My process is similar to an old painting even if I paint with Photoshop.
I start to do a background with a mix of papers and canvas, like a painter that choice how is the best support for his paint. The second step is to prepare the drawing, I usually prefer a pencil on paper. With PS I fix the minor issues and after I can go to add shadows, lights, and color.
Many, many hours after the painting (digitally) is done! 

Do you offer more than one style, if so – talk us through the different approaches and the audience you are targeting for each.

I usually find a key into a book to have the access to tell something different. For my picture books, I'd like to find a funny moment, a silly scene. For the fantasy books, I searching for a dynamic scene or a good character to paint.

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Have you ever thought about trying out a different technique or a different style?

A lot of times! Oh my gosh! I have a lot of sketchbooks with ink drawing, charcoal sketches, pages with Copic and Pantone, watercolors album full of very ugly draws!

How long does it take on average for you to finish a spread, from initial sketch to final colour?

I usually need 1 or 2 days. Depends on how much need the illustration to be detailed.

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

Fascinating, narrative, ironic, magical.

Outline your dream project.

I'd like to become a very good person, helping my colleagues and friends. Visit  America, Norman Rockwell Museum, Japan and Ghibli's Studios, rescue a pet that I'll name "Mr. Grandpa Mortimer Spot the third" or maybe "Carlos", see the sunshine from a boat.
Write a picture book very very funny. Have the chance to illustrate the Lord of the rings. 
Illustrate a book about future discovery.

Have you visited any schools to speak or hold workshops?

Yes, sometimes I visited schools to talk about my career and I hold workshops in Italy about the digital painting, cartography and picture book's illustration. 

Are you an author/illustrator?

Both of them! I'd like to write something about what happened to me (like On déménage!, where a family tries to find a right house to stay) or talk about the secret life of imaginary stuff (like "Barchetta" the life of a paper boat).

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What makes a good children’s book?

I guess there isn't a formula to have a good children's book. The children's book is a son of an editor, a writer, an illustrator, a graphic designer, a printer and a  bookseller. Sometimes all these elements have the same needs and a good children's book comes out. Sometimes this book is an answer from a politically and social moment, sometimes a book borns from the need to discover again our feelings.

When you are not drawing, how do you like to relax?

I'd like to play with my friends to some roleplay games or go to the cinema or just talk with my family. Little things, wonderful moments!

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What are some of your favourite subjects to draw?

Animals, dragons, elves, and dwarfs are my favorite subjects but I never retreat from a new subject!

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

I'd like to illustrate Rapunzel in a different historical setting or the Jungle book with warms colors!

Animals feature heavily in children’s books – do you have a pet?

Right now, I haven't but I hope to have one soon! 

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