The Q&A: Ilaria Urbinati

By Peggy Roalf   Monday April 9, 2018

Q: Originally from [where?] what are some of your favorite things about living and working in [your current locale]?

A: I was born in a quiet small town near Turin, in the northwest of Italy; in my early twenties I moved to Turin to start my career as illustrator. Now it’s 10 years since I came here and I love this city. Turin is very elegant, beautiful and sophisticated; someone said it looks like a “small Paris.” I love walking around here, looking at the beautiful squares and the river Po.

Q: Do you keep a sketchbook? What is the balance between art you create on paper [or other analog medium] versus in the computer?

A:Yes I’m a sketchbook person! I always have at least two or three sketchbook where I capture moments, faces, ideas, and I make some quick watercolors during my travels. In my working time I prefer using computer (MAC and Cintiq forever!) because it allows me to make quick corrections and variations, but at least once a year I choose a project to realize with watercolors because my old soul still loves the truthfulness and the immediacy of watercolor painting.

Q: What is the most important item in your studio?

A: I think it's my Wacom Cintiq 13. I bought it three years ago and I love the working experience with it. I chose the smallest one so when I travel I can bring it with me.

Q: How do you know when the art is finished—or when to stop working on it?

A: I really want to keep my illustrations fresh and natural, so sometimes I try to look at them and ask myself, “is it too much?” This helps me to stop fussing with details.

Q: What was your favorite book as a child?

A: I love “The BFG” by Rohald Dahl; it was full of atmosphere, irony and last but not least illustrated by Quentin Blake (I was obsessed about him as a child)

Q: What is the best book you’ve recently read?

A: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. It’s beautifully written, it’s a frightening but very clever dystopian tale that makes me reflect a lot about our society today.

Q: If you had to choose one medium to work in for an entire year, eliminating all others, what medium would you choose?

A: I think watercolors will be my choice. When I work with it I always feel more free and spontaneous.

Q: What elements of daily life exert the most influence on your work practice?

A: I think it’s my sleeping pattern! I love sleeping and taking naps when I can. When i have a good nap I always feel happy to work and my mind is clear (basically I’m a cat).

Q: What was the [Thunderbolt] painting or drawing or film or otherwise that most affected your approach to art?

A: I think it’s a tool: Etch-A-Sketch, the magnetic drawing board for kids. I had one and I loved drawing and erasing and then drawing and erasing again. The most important thing for me was the gesture of drawing not producing something to keep. This is still a part of my work: I love drawing, the process behind the creation of an illustration; ”having something to show” is just a consequence.

Q: What was the strangest/most interesting assignment you've taken that has an important impact on your practice, and what changed through the process?

A:  During the last year and a half I created the illustrations for a weekly column Answer For the Heart in the Italian newspaper La Stampa. This assignment has involved a lot of my time with a new idea every week (so far I’ve completed 60 illustrations) and to manage this along with my other deadlines. Despite this challenge I really love it because I’ve grow to trust my visual ideas.

Q: What would be your last supper?

A: Pumpkin tortelli, a glass of white wine and pistachio ice cream for dessert

I’m a freelance illustrator based in Turin, Italy. I've been working as an illustrator since 2007: I began my career as character designer and colorist for animation TV series, then I started working as a freelance, exploring illustration for editorial projects, books, apps and advertising. I'm also a passionate graphic novelist: I enjoy both writing and illustrating my works.
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