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 was born and raised in Salento (south Italy); I studied sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts. My animation path started at Enanimation, an Italian studio were, very young, I had the opportunity to learn all the animation positions from clean-up to storyboard and work with very talented people. It was the years of wonderful production like Laura’s Star, The Three Wise Men, The Polar Bear, and El Cid: The Legend.
How do you go about designing, and what goes through your mind, from start to end?
I start to find some interesting shapes, the right contrast between the different parts of the body (long legs/short arms, big hands/little feet...), play with face elements, try interesting and appealing expressions and all can communicate the character’s personality at first look. I want the people who watch at my character to get into empathy right off.
A great help is to listening lots of music, I can find interesting figures or the right rhythm for the sequence when i do storyboards.
What is a typical day for you, and who are the people you work with?
I start very late in the morning (after coffee and chocolate brioche) with some warm up. In the afternoon I face the hard work and go steady till the night, where I try to do my personal projects with the treasure of the deep silence and no bothersome people around.
What are some of the things that you have worked on?
I started out with cleanup and animation on features like “Gisaku”, “The Polar Bear 2”, and layout for “The 3 Friends” based on Helme Heine children’s book, design and animation for several commercials. From few years I started my freelance career and I actually do almost all character design and storyboards for TV series
Is there a design you have done that you are most proud of?
Ginger, the female character of my strip “On the Couch” (in production). She’s a student of philosophy getting her second degree.
What projects have you done in the past, and what are you working on now?
I actually work as storyboard artist for the new “Rahan, son of the Dark Age” and many others TV series. I also planned to finish my comic book for the next year...if I will not die before.
Who do you think are the top artists out there?
There are a lot and I don’t want to do always the same names...but I’ll do anyway. Florian Satzinger is sure my favourite, he has an infinite creativity and the way he keeps his personality is enviable. Nicolas Marlet, Sylvain Deboissy, Stuart Grangel, Carter Goodrich, Peter de Sève, Craig Kellman are modern legends. Igor-Alban Chevalier is pure genious.
Could you talk about your process in coloring your art, as well as the types of tools or media that you use?
I draw with Wacom tablet in Alias Sketchbook Pro and coloring in Photoshop in a very simple way. I don’t think an elaborated coloration helps in designing a character.
To sketch some doodle or life drawing I use animation colored pencil and pantone tria markers on print smooth paper. In this way the scarce quality of paper let the marker's alcohol free to create stains that looks like watercolor.
What part of designing is most fun and easy, and what is most hard?
Faces and expressions are always fun to do. Realistic stuff is annoying and so hard to do. Backgrounds are really hard! I hate to do backgrounds. (and c’mon the focus of the audience is on the character acting not on the bkg! shame, I’m just envious of modern Michelangelo like Paul Felix, Sam Michlap or Paul Lasaine)
What are some of the things that you do to keep yourself creative?
Always finding new shapes to play with and new attitude to add to my characters. Never look back to the stuff done in the past. To be instinctive. To looks at my creation from different points of view and ask myself” how can I do in a different way?
What are some of your favorite designs which you have seen?
“Ren and Stimpy” and all Krichfalusi characters are the best on earth, “Chel” from The Road to El Dorado, “Jughead Jones” from Archie Comics, “Stitch”, the entire cast of Albert Barillé’s “Once Upon a Time...Life”, Don Bluth’s “Space Ace” and “Dragon Liars”, “Sara” from The Three Wise Men, “Dr Doppler” from Treasure Planet, all “Wiley Miller” strip characters.
What is your most favorite subject to draw? And why?
Faces! I love to play with, it is the thing that makes people different it’s various and it is the most communicative part of the body. In particular wacky faces with long noses, give me fun and I can’t live without fun.
What inspired you to become an Artist?
To block off ideas on the paper (or block of clay). Try to spread out some fun on this sad planet. Lots of comicbook and cartoons from my childhood. My old sculpture teacher and great Italian artist Bruno Maggio
What are some of the neat things you have learned from other artists that you have worked with or seen?
Avoid details end unto itself, Keep it simple! Your character must be easy to reproduce for others, and so it will cost less to make. Try to do something people don’t expect to see. Never try to add corrections to something that doesn’t work, just throw it in the basket and start from the beginning. Don’t do something that smells of stuff already done. Evil and ugly characters are the most appealing for the audience because they are more interesting.
Keep the character’s personality and your personality separate, your drawings must be recognizable without your signature (best advice I ever received)
What are some of your favorite websites that you go to?
I spend lots of hours jumping from one blog to another; it is always inspiring to see other artists work. Drawingboard.org is a great place to share my stuff and listen to comments and critiques. Photo blogs and Deviantart.com are good too.
What wisdom could you give us, about being an Artist? Do you have any tips you could give?
To be always open to the world inputs, be updated to the new techniques, arts, news and all happening to this planet. Talk with people, listen to their thoughts and feelings, watch them, and watch their bad habits, how they act, strange walks, expressions. Most of the people aren’t beautiful like Snow White or Sleeping Beauty, most of the people are ugly and awkward, there’s no reason to go mad and find something original, just take a look on the street.
If people would like to contact you, how would you like to be contacted?
Finally, do you have any of your art work for sale (sketchbook, prints, or anything) for people that like your work can know where and when to buy it?
Actually no, I don’t like to ask for money for my stuff. I prefer to give my drawings as gifts to my friends or kind people I talk with. Maybe one day I will make a sketchbook.