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Illustrator Profile - Andrea Ventura: "Listen to your heart"

By Robert Newman   Thursday December 21, 2017

Andrea Venturais an illustrator and painter who lives in Berlin and Milan. His striking painted and illustrated portraits have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, IL, and many other publications.

MY LIFE:
After the birth of my daughter, in 2008, I moved from New York to Berlin. So now I sort of move between Berlin and Milan.

My father was initially an art director in the 70s but then started drawing and creating children’s books.  It was great for us as children because for a while he had his studio at home in Milan or in our rather dysfunctional house in Tuscany, so we were always involved in the process. He used to love drawing very complicated scenes from cities and ships. Later I naturally slipped into this field. Also my brother Paolo went into photography.

I went to the fine arts academy in Milano and studied history at the university.

I don't recall ever having done anything else, except a year in the army. During which I am ashamed to say I had a great time.

I began working when I moved to New York in the early 90s. At the time I could pay for my room on the Upper West Side by doing one spot for The New Yorker.

MY WORKSPACE:
I need to work; it makes me nervous not to. I am either painting for myself or drawing some illustration. I find Berlin allows me to focus. I normally get to the studio early and spend the day there. I get really excited when I find an idea evolves—like recently I found that my portraits were being influenced by my still life paintings. It doesn't really work the other way but in this case I had found a geometric technique to create a texture and when I applied it to the portraits, I really liked what happened.

HOW I MAKE MY ILLUSTRATIONS:
When I paint, I use acrylics. I need to be able to work quickly and my work is a process—I find it whilst I am working on it. When I illustrate I use gauche, acrylic, pen and ink, pastel...


MY FIRST BIG BREAK:
I think it must have been soon after arriving in New York, when I got three or four assignments at once for The New Yorker. But I think what got me really excited was once meeting with Roland Topor in Paris in the early 90s. I had been a fan of his work since I saw The Tenant in a small cinema near my high school in Milano.

MY INFLUENCES:
It’s difficult to pinpoint one major influence; I think that my influences have changed over time. Although I would say that what probably influenced me most was the place where I grew up and my parents and the boredom of endless summer afternoons at my grandmother’s house by the sea. To me other influences are rather temporary.

MY MOST ADMIRED CREATIVE PERSON:
I suppose the obvious answer would be Picasso. I think I have a thing for Spanish painters, like Antonio Lopez Garcia, for example. But in general I have an empathy for paintings. They attract me like a magnet. Even if I don't like them.

MY CREATIVE INSPIRATION:
Lately it’s Instagram.

THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE OF WORKING ALONE:
Anything bureaucratic give me the  shivers. Actually, my work is an escape from all this. I am very peaceful when I am there and in control.

A MEMORABLE ASSIGNMENT FROM THE PAST YEAR:
I enjoyed the year. There wasn't any particular assignment I enjoyed most. It’s been everything from Donald Trump to an Italian lady who was disfigured in an acid attack by her boyfriend.

MY FAVORITE ART DIRECTOR:
I have really enjoyed working with Francesco Franchi. I did five covers for him and the Italian magazine IL. He left me completely free to do the work and only saw the end result. And I think he liked them all. Also Chris Curry at The New Yorker and Leanne Shapton when she was working at Saturday Night in Toronto and at The New York Times Op-Ed section.

SOME OF MY FAVORITE ILLUSTRATORS:
I respect and admire when illustrators create their own world—something which goes beyond just the illustration, something that takes you beyond the image. I really like Pierre le-Tan, Roland Topor, Steinberg, Roberto Innocenti, Edward Gorey

OTHER WORK:
I paint.

HOW I PROMOTE MYSELF:
I work on my website regularly (right now it’s actually under construction). I also send new images once in a while to my mailing list. And I try when I can to meet people in person.

ADVICE FOR SOMEONE STARTING OUT:
I like something I read recently regarding this question, from an author whose name I have forgotten: “Listen to your heart.”

See more Andrea Ventura illustrations, new work and updates:
Andrea Ventura website
Instagram: @andreaventura_portraits
Twitter: @zenostrauss



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