29 March 2023
Tombow Talks To: Giulia Casarotto
What inspired you to become an artist?
It may sound a little pretentious but I always knew that I wanted to become an artist. My dad is a sculptor and I grew up watching him create beautiful stone masterpieces in the family workshop. Obviously, we use different mediums, but I can say for sure that he is my biggest inspiration.
How do you approach the creative process when working on a new piece?
I am not really a spontaneous artist and so is my creative process. Usually, I start with an idea, which is inspired by something that I saw within nature, or an event that happened and then I let my imagination do the rest. It could be also a beautiful painting that I saw during an exhibition or a book, but it’s always obviously a visual experience at first.
Who are some of your biggest artistic influences, and how have they impacted your work?
I am a huge fan of Beatrix Potter. Her illustrations have accompanied me since I was a child, reading her stories and dreaming of meeting all her adorable and playful characters. Both of us share a love for nature and wildlife, which has been the main core of my artworks in the past couple of years.
Another big influence is Richard Scarry, I was obsessed with his characters as a child, and nowadays as an adult and picture book illustrator myself I finally understand why! They are brilliant and full of a sense of humour.
How has your style evolved over time, and what factors have influenced that evolution?
I started my career as a traditional and mixed media artist. Going back to my teenage and art diploma years I remember that I really wanted to become a comic artist! Around 2018 I started to use exclusively digital tools, as it was a cheaper and quicker option and what the market of the time required, especially when working around very tight deadlines. In the past few months, I rediscovered my love for traditional materials, texture and that ‘messy’ finishing, thanks to my desire to draw more on location. Art feels more playful when you are able to experiment with materials!
Can you walk us through your typical artistic routine or process?
My routine varies depending on the project I am currently working on, as I tempt juggle different jobs at the same time. I always have music in the background, which helps me concentrate while working on deadlines or when reaching out for some inspiration. Every now and then I start the day with some “warm-up” exercises, or as I like to call them “stretching for artists”. I look at my phone camera and choose a couple of pictures that I took and sketch from them. A lovely exercise that helps me to feel ready for whatever comes next!
What do you hope people feel or experience when they see your art?
Every time I am creating a piece, people who are watching me have the habit to tell me:-” Oh Giulia, you look so angry!” when the reality is truly the opposite. I am actually enjoying myself. I love creating funny and bright illustrations, full of colours and joy and I always hope that people can experience that too, besides my angry-looking expression!
How do you handle criticism or negative feedback on your work?
I think it’s important to understand where the feedback is coming from and the nature behind it. We are used to calling “negative feedback” those that are just meant to be constructive. Sometimes you need to take into account that not everyone will like your work, as people do have different tastes and interests. Normally I learn from them and If I feel like it’s hurting me I remember to take a big breath and keep going.
Can you talk about a particularly challenging piece you've created, and how you overcame any obstacles during the process?
Working on picture books it’s an extremely hard and really long process, especially as you won’t be able to see the immediate results. You can go on for months on trying to develop the characters and the story and I do think the most difficult part it’s deciding when to stop. Obviously having a deadline gives you more of a sense of how much time you are allowed to spend, but it’s still extremely tiresome.
What I have learnt is trying to give yourself enough time to play and get comfortable. When you feel like your drafts are ready, move to the next step. And make sure to give yourself credit all the time. Especially once the book is published.
How do you stay motivated and inspired to create new work?
Going outside and being inspired by nature. I also love wandering around museums and art galleries. Seeing other artists’ works as well, makes me want to be part of this wonderful world even more!
How do you use ABTs in your illustrations?
I have been using ABTs for a long time. I have been so obsessed with them, that even my 6 years old niece is now playing with this wonderful tool! I use them as a base layer for my illustrations, both dry or with an inch of water and let the magic begin. The colours are so vibrant and perfect to lift up even the most simple sketch.
If you could live in one city for the rest of your life, where would it be?
For a long time, I thought that London was going to be my city. But after 8 wonderful years, I am starting a new chapter and moving to the British seaside. It’s difficult for me to think that I will be spending my life in just one place. I was born and raised in Italy and for 22 years that was my entire world. But who knows? Maybe in the future, I will move somewhere else again!
Favourite Tombow shade?
I absolutely need to choose two shades: 126 and 985.
985 is pure sunshine, it’s bright and sits between orange and yellow. It can turn any illustration into a colour explosion. 126 is the colour of the fields during late summer when the warmest weather has finally calmed down.
An Italian singer called Elisa. Check her out, you won’t regret it!
Favourite animal to draw?
I can’t really choose one animal, it would be unfair to all the others left behind. I will give you a top 3: cats, birds - in particular pigeons and hens - and bears!
If you could have dinner with three artists (past or present) who would they be?
Beatrix Potter, Judith Kerr and Tove Jansson. What a trio!