I have always been an avid reader of SFF novels. As a teen, I spent hours in awe of those beautifully painted book covers that made the worlds and the characters I loved so much more alive and real. I never dared to dream to grow up to be a book cover artist back then, but that was what sparked my love for fantasy illustration.
Last year has been very intense for me: I painted 50 portraits for a book that will be released shortly and I worked on an art book on Egyptian deities with the Italian collective Imaginaria. The last months of the year have been devoted to my personal improvement. I’ve been attending an online mentorship with Dan Dos Santos thanks to SmArt School and I’m working on some book covers for independent authors that I can’t reveal yet :) I’m very excited to see what the new year will bring!
Probably working on the book cover for Flame in the Mist, by Renée Ahdieh. It has been a real challenge for me because I don’t paint creatures often and I was very scared, I’m very grateful to the Art Director who had a lot of faith in me and the result has been really appreciated. I love to paint for teens because they really love and hate with amazing intensity, much like the teen I was not so many years ago.
I’m working from home, so I have to force myself to balance a healthy life and my work. The plan is to start the day with some personal studies or sketches and then the gym (trying to find a time when nobody else is in there!), I’m not a morning person so I get more productive in the late morning/afternoon and this is when my workday actually starts; I follow the Pomodoro technique (25 min work without any distraction then 5 min break) to help me focus but also take breaks from sitting at my desk. Obviously, more days than not this routine gets disrupted and I totally forget the gym when I’m under deadline, but I hope to improve!
Painter is my main painting software, I often start and finish my illustrations within the application. I love how it handles the colour when I paint, there is no other software that works in the same way, and, with its papers and realistic brushes, it also allows me to seamlessly work on a traditional base or underpainting.
It has to be the papers! I really love creating papers and how using grainy brushes unify the painting and give it a natural look.
The main challenge for me is self-promotion: finding new clients and reminding of my existence to old ones. I’m really bad at this! Luckily I have an agent (I’m represented in the US by Astound US) but I also have to do my part.
I think it’s important to always remind yourself that people only share their success on the internet and that it’s an edited version of their life. Instant popularity is rare; it takes time, a lot of emails without answers, a lot of people that seem interested but that will not call back, before making this work. It’s a piece of advice I give to myself too, because it's slowly starting to work for me and I always feel like everyone else is more successful than me.
I work on a MacBook pro from 2013 with a Wacom Intuos pro.
While waiting for an iPad version of Painter (one can always hope :D), I often start my sketches on Procreate. It’s then really easy to save them in PSD and open them with Painter. I love to be able to start drawing even while travelling or just relaxing on my couch, and then complete the illustration in Painter when I’m back at my desk.