'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Thursday 18 April 2019

Meet the Illustrator: Manuela Adreani

Describe your illustration style in ten words or less. Delicate, honest and gentle.

Do you have a favourite artistic medium? I only need a pencil to draw my ideas and a sheet of A4 paper, very basic items. What is essential for me, is to see what I will draw clearly in my mind and, only then, can shape it on the paper.

What items are an essential part of your creative space? I love pencils and watercolour.  Unfortunately, I don’t use them much, because I use mainly digital painting to realise the books, due to very short deadlines.

Name three artists whose work inspires you. I love Lisbeth Zwerger and the Australian illustrator Shaun Tan, who illustrated one of my favorite books The Red Tree. I also really appreciate very different illustrators, from the realistic and complicated style of Rebecca Dautremer, to the very simple and essential style of Oliver Jeffers.

Which artistic period would you most like to visit and why? I would have loved to live in Paris during Impressionism, from the 1850s until the beginning of 1900. During that time, artists have changed the direction of painting and created new ways of representing reality. I love all of them -  Modigliani, Renoir, Degas and Van Gogh, who spent just few years in Paris but still he is an important part of that changing atmosphere.

Who or what inspired you to become an illustrator? I’ve always loved drawing, but I actually did not know that illustrating could be a profession until I went to see the open day of the School of Illustration in Rome, where I studied for 3 years. And then, when I saw the books of Lisbeth Zwerger, I felt in love with her illustrations, and with children’s books in general, and I felt that illustrating for kids was what I wanted to do. Though it took me long time to have the courage to do it, I’m glad I finally did!

Can you share a photo of your creative work space or part of the area where you work most often? Talk us through it. This is my little studio - here is where I work. As you can see, there’s a nice window from which I get a lot of sun in the afternoon. It’s a new room for me since I moved into this flat a few months ago, but I love this space, and the company of my cat... when he shows up!

What is your favourite part of the illustration process? When I draw or colour, to me it’s very important to talk to the characters. For example while I was working on Hugo, which is a very delicate story, I would speak to my drawings of Hugo. I related to him as if he was a real boy. He kept me company and I had the feeling I could more easily represent what he was going through, or at least so it seemed to me!

What advice would you give to an aspiring illustrator? The main thing I’d like to suggest to aspiring illustrators is to find their own style and way to tell stories. I also would like to tell them that working as an illustrator is very demanding on the body, so I would advise to take care of it. And that this beautiful job does not leave a lot of spare time. It requires a lot of sacrifice, but doing what you like doing is the best reward we can have.

Manuela is a children’s books illustrator and animator from Turin, Italy. She started working as an illustrator thanks to a competition for the 130th anniversary of the creation of Pinocchio. Her illustrated books have been published world wide and have been translated into many languages.  Last year Manuela was nominated for the Kate Greenaway Medal.
You can follow Manuela on instagram and facebook or find out more via her website.