Interview with Alberto Dal Lago Illustrator and Concept Artist
Alberto Dal Lago
Illustrator and Concept Artist
Hello Alberto, welcome to our community and thank you for your availability!
Hello and thank you for your interest in my work.
1. Tell us how your relationship with the fantasy world began.
Fantasy, but I would broaden the concept to the Fantastic in general, has contaminated a large part of my childhood and pre-teenage.
The 80s were the driving force for my imagination: from the movies and the books I had a lot of inputs that lit a light bulb in my head.
Since I was a child, I tried to reproduce the things that fascinated me.
As I grew up and devoured genre books, I began to mature the idea of being able, one day, to produce drawings and characters that I liked so much.
I have also read books of which I would have redesigned the covers according to my taste!
Left image: cover for LW no.10, Le Segrete di Torgar
2. At one point you became a cover artist for the restored series of Lone Wolf. What did this opportunity mean to you and what are the greatest teachings you’ve received from Joe Dever?
It means to be able to approach professionally a universe that I had admired as a child and that had conquered millions of readers all over the world! He also opened a window on the international market.
And for the time it was not unimportant (the first collaboration with Joe was born between 2006 and 2007, for Mongoose Publishing) because there were no social platforms or groups to post their jobs and maybe be contacted from foreign customers.
In addition, the big business of the CA related to video games was not as expanded as today.
From that experience I learned a lot, because for the first time I relate to a non-Italian interlocutor and I learned some aspects related to contractual relations with foreign publishers.
From a human point of view, the greatness of Joe I discovered in his way of putting himself towards collaborators and fans.
With his humility and availability he showed me that a person’s professional talent corresponded to an undeniable highness of soul.
3. Staying true to the original edition seems to have been a big challenge, what’s behind a cover?
First of all there is teamwork, I will never tire of repeating it. It means that before getting to work you are confronted with the most attentive and capable employees, to churn out a good briefing.
In the end I am the one who receives the ingredients from the others and then mixes them, cooking them according to his taste! Specifically, the hardest part was to preserve the spirit of the original edition, rejuvenating the aesthetics and at the same time maintaining a certain variety on all the cover illustrations. Consider that, in the logic of the bookgame, Lone Wolf is interpreted by the reader on duty: from there the idea of not showing his face was born.
So the protagonists of my illustrations are the most lethal creatures or enemies of the series that LS faces from time to time, allowing me to build dynamic and dramatic scenes in a specific setting and different in each cover.
On the other hand, care must be taken not to repeat situations already seen and this is really difficult, considering that the protagonist’s poses are limited by the need not to show the features!
4. You were one of the seven Lords who collaborated for the realization of a new visual imagery of the Tolkien world. Can you tell us a little about the creative process in such an ambitious project?
The project that saw me involved with colleagues, Lords For The Rings, was born from an idea by Paolo Barbieri: that is to create a team of Italian artists who interpreted Tolkien’s enormous imaginative mosaic. It is something that is unprecedented in Italy and when it was proposed to me, I accepted without reserve. On the one hand I felt over-exposed, just for the skill and the name of some of my colleagues: I was not sure I would have been up to it.
But the team was really close-knit and compact, helped by the skilful artistic direction of Angelo Montanini (Tolkien’s best known Italian illustrator) and by the coordination of Roberto Arduini, president of the Italian Tolkienesi Studies Association, who assisted us throughout the part descriptive of the scenes to illustrate.
This made the work process easier to handle, even in the complexity of some tables.
In addition to good teamwork, each illustrator has worked according to his style and artistic sensibility.
5. You teach Digital Illustration and Concept Art at the International School of Comics in Padua. Besides the purely technical aspect, what is the teaching you are trying to convey to your students?
Certainly the technical aspect is very important, but the attitude is more important.
In addition to developing your own style, I try to teach the passion for this work and respect for professionalism.
Above all, I try to make it clear that an artistic result is not only generated by constancy and determination, but also by the acceptance of defeat as a spur to improve.
I notice that many young people have their eyes turned only to the result, and not to the path that must be taken to reach it.
I try to convey the respect we must have towards our passion and our interlocutors: if you are lucky enough to love your work, you must also understand that there are rules that we can not ignore … we are artisans at the service of a customer (or more customers).
6. What relationship do you have with traditional art, which artists have influenced your style?
Traditional art was the basis of everything!
I started learning the basic techniques related to the use of acrylic colors, pencils, watercolors, etc.
I tried to imitate unattainable illustrators: I became fascinated by the epicity of Frazetta and Brom’s dark fantasy.
Bumping into the classics, Caravaggio has exerted a noticeable influence, especially in the early days, but has influenced more my horror mood.
Also landscape artists like Friedrich played an important role in my training.
7. Analogue or digital? Which one do you prefer and how much do you use the first and how much the second?
With the heart, I would say that I prefer the analog. Reasoning in practical terms, at least as regards my way of working, instead I prefer digital. I started working with pencils, brushes, acrylics, watercolors, etc … then, gradually, I let myself be seduced by digital painting, which I tried to master as a self-taught, when software like Photoshop were not as versatile as today. Now I do everything directly in digital, from the sketch to the executive. Digital allows me to intervene quickly and accurately while I elaborate the sketches, which is the most delicate phase of my work. Above all it allows me to manage multiple projects at the same time. Being relatively slow and almost maniacal in the care of certain details, it would be unthinkable to keep the same rhythm with traditional instruments. The most important consideration, however, concerns the use of digital as an alternative to the analogue: and as an instrument it would be ineffective if you did not possess all that baggage of notions that make up an artist. In summary, if you do not know the color theory, it is useless to hope that you will teach her the computer!