Our editorial office loves illustrations, and we try to use them as much as we can in the magazine. So, when we meet someone able to create a statement with their drawings, then you’ve got our attention. Cecilia Campironi is an illustrator from the city of Rome, who has designed a very intriguing visual series (it’s still ongoing). Her latest series, Everything but shoes comes from observing her grandbabies playing on a slide, and it tells the story of “non-shoes.”
Hi Cecilia, what skills are essential for an illustrator in order to be successful?
You need a wide spectrum of skills in your toolkit. To be able to draw as a real job, it’s important to have a balance between talent and drive, between heart and head.
What did you draw as a kid?
Wheat fields, skies, and that kind of stuff. I remember I loved drawing on random walls ― I just couldn’t help it. I usually left scribbles behind my apartment’s doors and, one time, I drew a series of trees on a mobile that my mother hung from the ceiling.
Let’s talk about your ‘Everything but shoes’ series. Was this an example of a personal project to feed your creativity, or was it designed first for a commissioned assignment?
Without any doubt, every personal project starts as pure fun. Think about it: an illustrator spends the majority of their time drawing what other people want them to draw. We still need to have our own moments, you know? On the contrary to assignments, personal projects start not because you’re looking for an idea. Instead, the idea finds you.
When we asked you for an interview, you said this was the ‘best context to host (your) non-shoes.’ How did the series start?
My non-shoes series started when, staring at my grandbabies’ slide, I thought: funny how this looks like a shoe. Once the first draft was done, everything began to fall into place naturally. One idea after another, I began to see a consistent number of shoe models in my series. I wouldn’t mind if the series became something real, tangible; perhaps a collaboration book.
Why feet instead of other parts of the body?
There isn’t a specific reason behind it. I think maybe it’s something related to my passion for hands. Lately, I keep drawing faces actually. What’s for sure is that I love focusing on the human body: hands, feet, and faces.
How do you create your pieces?
It depends on the year. At the moment, I use wax pastels just as much as Photoshop and graphic tablets. In terms of size, my pieces aren’t larger than A3. Painting, though, is a different story: I love painting big walls and TVs.
Tell me about a typical drawing day.
I always try to do my best. I schedule my days depending on my priorities, writing down everything ― I mean everything. I use one of those desk monthly calendars to always keep an eye on what I have planned for the upcoming weeks.
Since I work so many hours in front of my laptop, to me it’s so important to spend time outdoors. Even better if I’m surrounded by many people and kids. It’s perfect because, by the end of the day, I’m tired and I start missing my quiet times in the studio.
And then, after days stuck at my desk, I get bored of being shut up inside and staying still, and I want to get outside again. You see, it’s a balance between opposites.
I’m confident that, for us Italians, our country influences our creativity a lot. How much does Roman culture play into your work?
I can’t say you’re wrong. My head is constantly assimilating stuff from my surroundings into my work. Inspiration is everywhere: places, streets, colors, art, food, the people I meet, and the experiences I live.
Rome is the city where I was raised, both as an individual and illustrator. It’s a huge part of myself, my style, and my perception. It’s a city that gives you so much and, at the same time, it asks you for a lot. It’s a city for brave humans.
How much “Italiano” is there in your style?
A bit. I’m a big fan of Italian language; I love the little differences among synonyms and idioms and putting all of these into a visual language.
If I look at my work, I’m mostly influenced by everyday life. My drawings have the colors of the places I visit, the characters I met on the tram, and the architectural shapes of the city.
I draw about the place I live in that particular moment. I’m also very curious about other countries’ ways of life and culture. If I start drawing right after coming back from a trip, you’ll see a lot of it in my drawings.
Where would you like to see your artworks exhibited?
Perhaps a personal exhibition in art gallery, that isn’t strictly connected to illustrations, abroad. My job is an ongoing process, and I hope to keep on walking, running here and there, and hopefully stopping when I can. I hope to keep drawing all the while.