This month's illustrator is Giuliana Gregori. Hailing originally from Italy, Giuliana has lived in London for many years, working in design before turning once more to children's book illustration. She was the winner of the Beginning-Middle-End competition at the last SCBWI Conference. See more of Giuliana's work in her Featured Illustrator's Gallery

I am originally from north-east Italy, but I have been living in England since the the beginning of 2000 and have been fascinated by children's books and story telling for as long as I can remember.

My passion for drawing goes back to when I was a child. My sister Alessandra and I enjoyed filling up sheets with drawings to keep us busy, far more than playing with dolls.

Stories were also very present in my childhood, ranging from the classics tales by Perrault or by the Grimm brothers, as well as Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi.

Antonio Mussino, Pinocchio, 1933

I also used to amuse myself with Mickey Mouse comics, and Gianni Rodari’s short tales. Amongst my favorites however, there was a book with stories and nursery rhymes illustrated by Richard Scarry, and Barbapapa.

Annette Tison and Talus Taylor, Barbapapa, 1976

My sources of inspiration are many and come from the most varied things. To start with, over the years I have gathered a rich collection of books ranging from photography books, books about the great artists from the past and picture books that I purchase regularly and that are a constant addition to my library.

I have always appreciated the work of Impressionist artists such as Degas, Monet and Renoir, because of the harmonies and contrasts of colour as well as the study of light. However one of my favourite painters ever has always been Chagall, because of his dreamlike narrative led representations, full of poetry.

Marc Chagall, Circus Painting

There are also a number of contemporary children’s book illustrators whose work I admire a lot, from Alexis Deacon, to Kitty Crowther, Beatrice Alemagna, Isabelle Arsenault to name just a few.

Alexis Deacon, Croc and Bird (© Hutchinson 2012)

Isabelle Arsenault, Virginia Wolf (© Kids Can Press 2012 )

To create my work, however I also like to take inspiration from nature, everyday life, as well as memories or experiences that are or have been part of my life.

I got my first degree in Illustration in Milan in the 90s, but at the end of my training there I felt I didn’t know exactly what direction to go with my work, as the course was only technique led. So a few years down the line I decided to come to London with the aim to pursue my studies further, but eventually I had to wait a few years before being able to go back to studies.

I completed my an MA in Illustration and Animation at Kingston University in 2004. However, after my studies I found it difficult to have regular commissions as an illustrator, so eventually I got a full time job as a textile designer. It was only in 2009, after a period where my work as a textile designer was at a standstill, that I reconsidered going back to illustration.

In order to further develop my visual language as an illustrator and have the opportunity to focus on my writing skills as well, to create my own stories I enrolled on the MA course in Children’s Book Illustration at Cambridge School of Art, which has proved to be a great opportunity to refine my artistic research, as well as to reinforce my love for drawing.

The very last picture book project I worked on, and the one I'm most proud of revolves around a dog who is being pampered and fussed over by her owner. I have thoroughly enjoyed the creative process on this as a whole.

The initial process consisted of finding a good character and a setting for my story. Not having a dog myself, I spent a few days going into places where it was likely to find dogs and spend some time taking sketches of them, to observe their habits , how they interact with each others, and with their owner.

Observational drawings of dogs

Observational drawings of French bulldog

Observational drawings of French bulldog

After conducting some research, I thought it would be interesting to have a well-groomed little dog who yearns nothing more than to just be like an ordinary dog and do ordinary dogs things. From this initial thought, I then developed the rest of the story.

Character sketches for dog’s owner

Character sketches for dog

Furthermore, I liked the idea of coming up with illustrations with a limited colour palette that had some vintage feel, inspired by the 50s.

First stage colour research for spread 1

Final artwork for spread 1

The book was highly commended at the Macmillan Children's book prize last June 2017, and also won the Beginning Middle and End competition with SCBWI. I am very pleased to be featured in this month’s Words & Pictures to talk about my practice.

If I were to offer an advise to new aspiring illustrators I would probably encourage them to draw and observe from life as much as they can, because that is the starting point of any good picture book. Besides, the more one engages in this practice the more this process stimulates our curiosity and our ability to see things from different angles and to perceive the subtle details.


See more of Giuliana’s work in her Featured Illustrator Gallery
Her personal website is here, contact Giuliana here.

No comments:

We love comments and really appreciate the time it takes to leave one.
Interesting and pithy reactions to a post are brilliant but we also LOVE it when people just say they've read and enjoyed.
We've made it easy to comment by losing the 'are you human?' test, which means we get a lot of spam. Fortunately, Blogger recognises these, so most, if not all, anonymous comments are deleted without reading.

Words & Pictures is the Online Magazine of SCBWI British Isles. Powered by Blogger.