04.03.2018

Beyond Paper

How does the role of illustration change in the digital age? We talked about it with Italian illustrator Ale Giorgini

  • Beyond Paper
  • Beyond Paper
  • Beyond Paper
  • Beyond Paper
  • Beyond Paper

What will happen to illustration in an age in which everything, from reality to works of art, is digitally reproducible? What will become of this vast world halfway between art and craftsmanship? Which worlds can an illustrator explore beyond the boundaries of a paper sheet?
 
Driven by the uniqueness of its nature and of its own limits, illustration continues to evolve. For us enthusiasts, it is not easy to understand in which directions it will go, but talking to an insider can certainly help us get a clearer picture.
 
These and other considerations emerged from our conversation with Ale Giorgini, an Italian illustrator whose works have reached Tokyo, New York, Zurich, Vienna, Paris, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Melbourne and many other cities in the world.
 
Giorgini won the Good Design Award from the Chicago Museum of Design and was selected by the New York Society of Illustrators. He is the president and artistic director of Illustri Festival and an illustration teacher.
 
SJ: What are the inspirations behind your work and your creativity?
AG:
What I draw comes from my childhood: Carosello (Italian old-style TV advertising), Hanna & Barbera’s cartoons, the illustrated books by Miroslav Sasek, and I Quindici, a famous children’s encyclopaedia.
How I draw, on the other hand, comes from the path I had to undertake: I earned my diploma as a surveyor and worked for 15 years as a graphic designer. At one point, the lysergic charm of the of the 1960s and 1970s aesthetics met the rigour of geometry and vector graphics, and this encounter gave life to what I do today.
 
SJ: How do you see the relationship between colours and strokes? Which role do they play in your work?
AG:
It might seem bizarre, but I've always loved filling contours. As a kid, I used to puncture the paper with all the energy that I put into tracing over the lines of my drawings until I thought they were perfect. For this reason, I am madly in love with Illustrator: it allows me to have total control of every element, of every single line. My illustrations have extremely marked traits. And honestly, I never asked myself why: I am a self-taught illustrator and probably everything is a consequence of my lack of technical preparation. Colours came later, to harmonize those otherwise incomprehensible signs. Colours are almost inevitably necessary to untangle the shapes contained in my drawings and make them visible. There are times when my black and white drawings look like puzzles that only become clear with the addition of colours. For this reason, colours and strokes are often essential.
 
SJ: What makes the hand of a talented illustrator unique?
AG:
I don’t think I have talent - and I don’t say this out of false modesty or to earn your readers’ sympathy. I often say - with absolute conviction - that I cannot draw. My gift, if I were to find one, would be that of turning my own limits into resources. Not having any artistic preparation, I have found a recognizable language that totally leverages my limits as a designer. For this reason, I appreciate the personality and the character of an image much more than its technical execution. I often find myself faced with images that are extraordinarily beautiful and yet absolutely empty. The vision behind an image is what needs be unique, the illustrator’s hand may even be imperfect. But of course, if you have both a vision and a good hand, then you have it all.
 
SJ: What about the trends of contemporary illustration: what’s beyond paper?
AG:
Today, paper is to illustration what pizza is to restaurants: it's an evergreen, everybody likes it, but you cannot eat pizza every day of your life (although I could seriously consider that option). The world out there is much bigger than an A4 paper sheet and there are plenty of opportunities on the new fronts of communication. The market is giving extremely positive signals and there is a strong rediscovery of illustration even in previously unexplored areas. Recently I saw this happen everywhere from fashion and furniture design to live news reporting and the personalization of cruise ships and other objects. Think of the Milan subway station that became an art gallery with images designed by Emiliano Ponzi, or of the cruise ship entirely customized by Riccardo Guasco. Purists might turn up their noses in front of these "daring" uses of illustration, but personally I believe their attitude makes no sense at all. Today, that of the illustrator is one of the most crucial roles in the creative industry, because illustration is a language that manages to touch people’s hearts and raise emotions in a way that other languages can hardly do.
 
SJ: Even the subjects have changed a lot.
AG:
Actually, I believe that illustration is still doing what it has always done: telling something about reality. This can happen in the form of a comment in a newspaper or a magazine, but also through different media. Besides drawing for a newspaper article or an illustrated book, illustrators often find themselves designing a skateboard, a wine bottle, an animated gif, a T-shirts, or even a room. The subjects have changed because the world has changed.
 

Author : The Slowear Journal

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Illustration  | Ale Giorgini  | paper  | digital era  |

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