Exploring the character led work of Italian illustrator Giulio Castagnaro

Born and raised in Rome in the Montesacro suburb, Italian illustrator Giulio Castagnro has always loved to draw.

Thanks for joining us today Giulio, can you start by telling us where you grew up?

Born and raised in Rome in the Montesacro suburb which is really rich in history. I’ve always loved to draw. As a child I used to copy characters out of comic books at home, and cartoons that I watched on the TV. I discovered illustration mainly through the work of Luzzati and Mattotti as I was growing up.

Illustration by Giulio Castagnaro

Bureacracy by Giulio Castagnaro

You currently live and work in Rome. How does such a beautiful city, with such history, inform your work? 

Rome is a beautiful city to visit as a tourist, but very complicated to live in. I’ve always been more fond of my neighbourhood than the the tourist centre.  I continually enjoy and to observe its architecture, and the people who live there, reflecting upon how the area has changed over the years. This doesn’t mean that Rome doesn’t have plenty of hidden treasures around every corner! I often take the car and drive aimlessly, then stop to draw something that catches my eye: a building, a tree, or an ancient Roman wall coloured by the sunset. I’m constantly thinking I should take a couple of weeks of vacation, to explore the city in more depth.

Explain Science by Giulio Castagnaro

Explain Science by Giulio Castagnaro

I’ve always made people the focus and most important part of my illustrations. I think it’s my way of attempting to understand them, to create a kind of interaction; the human figure itself is something that amuses me the most.

Giulio Castagnaro

Your style is very character-led, simple and playful. Can you talk us through how has this evolved? Who has influenced your work, continues to influence you creatively? 

I’ve always made people the focus and most important part of my illustrations. I think it’s my way of attempting to understand them, to create a kind of interaction; the human figure itself is something that amuses me the most. Whenever possible, I try incorporating double-meanings into my illustrations, create visual puns if you will.

I admire and follow the work of thousands of illustrators, an many of them very important to me for different reasons; to name a few, would include Lorenzo Mattotti, Ferenc Pinter, Brad Holland, and Charley Harper.

Italian Pride by Giulio Castagnaro

Italian Pride by Giulio Castagnaro

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working? Where do you find inspiration?

I organize exhibitions, workshops and presentations together with the illustrators’ collective I’m part of. We also have a self-publishing label, so I actually have very little free time. I like reading books and comic books, and sometimes design and build things, for example a vacuum table for screen printing. Day-to-day, the usual really…watching movies and TV series.

Inspiration for me comes from observation, trying to capture on paper some ideas and pictures that come from reading or from conversations I have with my friends. Above all I find inspiration in drawing…I draw all the time. By doing this I seem to always find new ideas, that I apply to my work; though I admit sometimes they just remain doodles within my sketchbook.

Can you give our readers some insight into your studio?

My studio at the moment unfortunately doesn’t have any windows, which can be a frustration. However, it’s always very colourful and interesting because when we organize exhibitions, the walls are covered with beautiful illustrations. We’re currently hosting an exhibition by phenomenal illustrator Claudia Palmarucci. Go and see her work, it’s truly breathtaking!

On my desk: Laptop /  Wireless headphones / A Teenage Mutant Hero Turtle (Michelangelo) /  “Trama” by Ratigher, one of my favourite comic books / Nasal spray

Italy is full of illustrators and comic artists; interest in these fields has grown over the past few years, as has public interest in festivals, events and exhibitions. This has definitely helped bring fellow professionals together, increasing the visibility of everyone’s work.

Giulio Castagnaro
Italian Pride by Giulio Castagnaro

Confetti by Giulio Castagnaro

What’s life like for a creative freelancer living and working in Italy? 

Italy is full of illustrators and comic artists; interest in these fields has grown over the past few years, as has public interest in festivals, events and exhibitions. This has definitely helped bring fellow professionals together, increasing the visibility of everyone’s work.

When it comes to getting work, I usually get in touch with possible clients directly, by mail…I have mixed feelings about social media. Of course it is a good way to promote your work and as a resource it’s a fantastic way find to out about new artists, but it’s quite competitive which makes me uneasy.

Can you share the creative tools you typically use?

For years I worked with vectors, but recently I started working with photoshop using some custom brushes. I always start with a digital sketch so I can explore its composition and possibilities for its color palette. I then draw the illustration in my sketchbook using a pencil, finalizing the work by colouring it digitally. I’m trying to skip the “sketchbook and pencil” step but I’m rarely happy with the results!

What are you currently working on?

I just finished working on a funny children’s book, written by Italian writer Davide Calì . The book is about an absurd fight between two boxers.

 La Dieta del Pugile - Work in progress

La Dieta del Pugile – Work in progress

www.giuliocastagnaro.com

 

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Posted on May 30th, 17 by | Twitter: @inkygoodness

Adam joined Inkygoodness in 2016 and is now a director of the company, working closely alongside founder and creative director Lisa Hassell. He is one of the main contributors to the site, and as editor-in-chief, the first point of contact for artist submissions.

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