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Illustrator Profile - Federica Del Proposto: "Look for your own vision of the world"

By Robert Newman   Thursday June 22, 2017

Federica Del Proposto is an illustrator and artist based in Milan and Paris. Her delightfully charming illustrations have appeared in publications in Europe and the U.S., as well as in corporate and advertising projects. Del Proposto works simply; she says, “My favorite mediums are pencils and fine-liners—I love them.” In addition to travel guides and annual reports, she created the poster for New York City’s River to River Festival.

MY LIFE:
I was born in Rome, Italy. I grew up in a family of nurses and doctors, but I’ve always been interested in something else: drawing. When I was a kid, drawing was my favorite game—I even drew my own toys, as the simplest way to have all the toys I wanted! But I struggled for many years with seeing drawing as anything other than my passion—it felt weird to think that it could also be a commercial route. Besides, I didn’t want to go to art school because I was a very rebellious teenager and classic Italian art schools were too old-fashioned for the younger me. I chose to study architecture.

I’ve worked as an intern architect for many years, publishing my early drawings, mostly little comics, with some Italian and international publishers during my free time. I continued to work as an architect, eventually getting a scholarship in France and I finally became a professional illustrator few years ago in Paris, during 2013, when I felt it was time to focus on my art.

I currently live in Paris and Milan.

MY WORKSPACE:
I work at home. That has changed lot of times lately, but I’ve always been able to re-create my working corner. I just need some basics: a white smooth table, a desk lamp and a colorful utility cart, where I put lots of jars full of my pencils, fine-liners and all the mediums I need. Plus, some souvenirs and little objects that I cherish, like my little Eiffel Tower figurine, a box of stamps from Le Tampographe Sardon and an amigurumi broccoli bought at Inuit Shop. Lately I’ve started to buy prints and original artworks from friends/illustrators, too. I finally have a brand new white wall to fill with inspiring and beautiful art.

HOW I MAKE MY ILLUSTRATIONS:
My favorite mediums are pencils and fine-liners—I love them. I re-draw the approved sketch with a pencil on good drawing paper using a light box, and when the crayon drawing is over I erase everything with a putty rubber; in this way most of the graphite is gone but I still can see the drawing’s lines. For coloration I mostly use Derwent or Faber-Castell colored pencils and Stabilo fine-liners. Finally, it’s scanning and postproduction, balancing the brightness for the file version of my original artwork. Sometimes I change the file a bit, adding or erasing colors in Photoshop, when I want to play a bit more. I have a lot fun with the traditional process. Lately I'm starting to test more digital coloration, too.

MY FIRST BIG BREAK:
It was during 2013, I had my first regular collaboration with Vivre Paris magazine (a very good Parisian lifestyle magazine) and few other assignments. Michel Lagarde and Sophie Federkeil, now my French representative agents, saw my work for Vivre Paris and the illustration I drew for The Parisianer exhibition. They proposed me to draw the 2014 edition of the Village Saint-Martin Illustrated Plan/Map of the shops of Paris’s 10th district. This work was my very first big break; I enjoyed it so much that my style naturally improved with this project, adding colors and refining my lines.

MY INFLUENCES:
There are lots, but especially: The Beatles, Dragon Ball, Tank Girl, Helen Hokinson, Charles Addams, Peter Arno, Sante Monachesi, Gokusen, Sempé, Todd Solondz and Virginia Woolf.

MY MOST ADMIRED CREATIVE PERSON:
Vivre Paris’s former artistic director Julien Pénégry and my current agents (Sophie Federkeil, Michel Lagarde and Kate Larkworthy) because they trusted my illustrations when I still had no professional experience at all.

MY CREATIVE INSPIRATION:
I enjoy watching everyday life and how different characters are living the same reality/scene, sometimes crossing their own different paths. I love stories. My main areas of interest consist of urban stories, manga, architecture, design, fashion, pop culture and a bit of classic literature.

THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE OF WORKING ALONE:
To occasionally step out of my own world and get out of my home. I’m very thankful that friends and people around me ask me to hang out a lot. If it were up to me, I would spend all days at home by working, thinking, reading manga and eating pasta.

A MEMORABLE ASSIGNMENT FROM THE PAST YEAR:
There are two. The Elle Summer Guide: a travel illustration series with six interior covers for a little guide introducing what to do during summer in the main French cities. And the new Mercato Testaccio website: illustrations and spot illustrations for the new website of Testaccio Market, an historical and well-known place in Rome that also means so much to me, because it’s located just in front my old university. I’m really happy they asked for my illustrations.

DREAM ASSIGNMENT:
There are lots! It would be fun to get involved in projects that are a totally new to me, like packaging, book covers, or illustrating fabrics. One of my dreams is to illustrate for some Japanese magazine, too.

MY FAVORITE ART DIRECTOR:
Sheeno and Nathalie Forissier-Elbaz from Elle France, Marlene Szczesny from The Wall Street Journal, and Carol Dietz fromThe New York Times. They allowed me to create a series of illustrations for specific columns (the Addresses column for Elle, the Sunday Off-Duty for the WSJ, and the Ask Real Estate for the NYT). I really appreciate their kindness when on a rush, or when asking for some modifications, and their friendly attitude. They are very nice, yet professional.

SOME OF MY FAVORITE ILLUSTRATORS:
Joost Swarte for his playful and architectural approach; Tatsuro Kiuchi and Emiliano Ponzi for their powerful ambiences; Brecht Evens and Aline Zalko for the amazing use of traditional mediums; Séverine Assous and Anna Kovecses for their elegant graphic approach.

OTHER WORK:
Besides traditional editorial illustration, lately I’m working in corporate and advertising projects. During 2016 I’ve illustrated one chapter of the annual activity report of Group BPCE. Another non-editorial work that I liked a lot is the advertising campaign to promote the River to River Festival in New York City, for which I’ve drawn the posters for subway, for JFK Airport and the illustrations for mailer-invitations, in collaboration with the graphic studio Studio Usher. An important part of my work is selling my original artworks, too. Most of them are curated, exhibited and sold by Robillard Gallery in Paris, a cool gallery especially focused on illustration.

HOW I STAY CURRENT:
I have some regular subjects that fit me very well, but I’m very curious too, and I enjoy periodically changing a bit, to test my style in different creative fields or different subjects.

HOW I PROMOTE MYSELF:
I share my works mostly on Instagram and Facebook. It’s the best way to stay in contact with other illustrators, with friends and people that follow me, and with some clients, too. I take part in competitions—that is very important to professionally test me a bit. And finally, part of my promotion is done by my agents. As for an actual portfolio like the website or the Behance profile, I really have to thank American Illustration! Thanks to this interview I’ve finally uploaded my works in almost their entirety; otherwise there would be just links from two years ago.


ADVICE FOR SOMEONE STARTING OUT:

Look for your own vision of the world, work hard, try to be selective with yourself, eat well and drink lots of water!

See more Federica Del Proposto illustrations, new work and updates:
Federica Del Proposto website
Instagram: @federicadelproposto
Facebook



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