Over the weekend we took a little trip over to Milan (Zoom style) to ask Alberto Casagrande, our Winning Winter Cover Artist a few questions about his background, style and inspirations…. by Sara Davidkova
If you were one of the judges for the Winter Cover competition who would you have chosen? I liked the cover by Alice Cao, especially because of her style, which is very different from mine. I am always fascinated by that kind of super detailed illustrations and kind of 19th century drawings. The second would probably be the cover by Daniele Morganti. I follow his work and I admire his style. I loved the colours he used and the cuteness of the characters. I also appreciate Lena Yokoyama. I liked the texture she used, the colours and the expressiveness of the composition. These were my three favourites.
Did you immediately know what you were going to use for the cover, or did you have to think it through and research? Every time I approach a project, I do a lot of research. For this competition, we had a lot of time, so I threw myself into it. It was fun and very stimulating. I dedicated four days of work to this project, (at least two were for research). I was looking for old British theatre posters, I saw an old illustration of Grimaldi and it started to build in my mind. I decided for the pose as a central composition and for smaller details and characters around.
What made you sign up to The Covent Gardener’s cover competition? I asked Jeannine if there is a chance to collaborate and she suggested that I apply to the cover competition. I don’t usually do competitions because sometimes they are too mainstream and too many participants involved. I do it only if I want to get in touch with a person or really want to collaborate and if the project is stimulating.
Do you have ties to Covent Garden, have you visited? My brother used to work near Covent Garden, while he was studying in London and last time I visited, it was for Christmas in 2016. Can’t wait to come back.
Could you briefly describe the process of your work to an outsider, so we can imagine what it’s like to work as an illustrator? Firstly, I try to grasp a lot of information and do extensive research. Researching is like a cornerstone of my work.Then I sketch with pencil and paper. I do very rough sketching just to figure out the composition and I never show it to anybody. I decide for about three of them and then develop more elaborate sketch which I present to the client. After we agree on a solution, I develop it on software. I mostly work with Adobe Illustrator.
How did you discover your interest in illustration? I don’t think I had a regular path in my career. My first degree was in foreign languages. I was a musician and the only thing I wanted to do was playing drums. But after a graduation I realised I wanted to become a graphic designer. I found a short degree in graphic design and started to work in Milano where I live now. I was very passionate about the illustration industry. I became interested in picture books but never really thought about drawing and doing it by myself. In the end I met Ilaria Cairoli and she proposed me a project. We worked on a picture book in our spare time together and we published it last year. Doing this book, I realised I like this kind of career.
What would you call the most unexpected source of inspiration in your career so far? All my main inspirations come from my interests so I wouldn’t call them unexpected. Something that really instructs my compositions is music. I like recreating the rhythm and the mood of the music, especially when I do a personal work. My Inspiration also comes from the city, from the urban environment. I love walking around the city, neighbourhoods, looking at buildings, facades, street corners and people.