Interview with

Ivan Bigarella

Illustrator

1. Let’s begin by speaking about you and your first encounter with art.

First of all, hello and thanks a lot for contacting me.
My first encounter with art happened at an early age. I’ve always been fascinated by comics, animated movies, picture books, videogames and anything that has to do with drawing.
I used to spend hours watching animated movies again and again and, although I still couldn’t read at the time, I also used to go through comics and books, choosing the stories by the pictures I liked best.
Moreover my mother was a very creative person, which I think played an important role during the period of my development. She encouraged me and supported me, together with my dad, during the course of my artistic studies: from high school to Comics school, where everything began to take a more concrete shape.

Ivan Bigarella

INSTAGRAM

2. You work a lot with children’s publishers. Why is this field so exciting, and which chances does it offer for cartoonists and illustrators, compared to other fields?

It’s exciting because it allows me to keep in touch with my inner child, to express him and to let him out. I truly love working on the characterization of characters and environments, in a quite theatrical way. This means I try to exaggerate an aspect or a detail to convey the mood of the scene as clearly as possible.
Working for children’s publishers, above all on humorous cartoons, gives me the chance to emphasize this aspect: to have a character act out as if he was on a stage, and to set the scenery as if it was a scenography, by distorting shapes and colours at my will, without the need to portray reality as you can actually see it.
Moreover, this field offers a wide range of styles and graphic possibilities, which is quite important, above all for those who like to range and experiment as much as possible, like I do.

3. Which role do you think illustration plays? Is it right to say it’s an universal language, and why so?

The role of an illustrator is to enrich a story through his images.
An illustration has to tell what’s going on, but at the same time it shouldn’t give too much away, letting the imagination of the reader do the rest.
I think it’s right to say that it’s an universal languag: as opposed to speech or symbolism which have cultural roots and may not be understood, images are so direct that anybody can grasp their meaning.
For sure anybody filters what he sees through his own experience and sensibility, but the underlying message is always plain and clear for everybody to see.
For example, if I draw a vicious monster who threateningly walks forward, somebody might focus on its look, somebody else on the colours, others might even find similarities with something they have already seen before, but everybody (if I have done a good job) should feel the danger and the menace from that situation.

4. Looking at your drawings, your touch stands out as sharp and well-defined. Where does your style come from, and how did it evolve, thanks to the experiences you had?

I don’t know if I have my own style, but for sure it comes from my several working experiences and from the artists who have influenced me. I could give you a list of pages and pages of names, from great masters such as Cavazzano, Mastantuono, Tony Wolf, Breccia, Celon, Pedrosa (I could go on forever) to more recent authors and new talents. Working for children’s publisher definitely pushed me to have a cleaner and more readable touch, at least during the finishing process, and I also have an obsessive-compulsive and very precise nature, so I guess that being a social misfit indeed helps! Even when the lines of my drawing are messier or dirtier, I still have a tendency to keep some sort of order and cleanliness. But actually, during the layout and sketching process, I can reach such high levels of incomprehensibility that nobody else but me could ever decrypt.

5. What about your design techniques? Do you have an established workflow or does it change from project to project?

My design techniques definitely change, based on what I need to do and on the style I need to adopt.
Moreover I try to experiment whenever possible, I’m always up for learning new things.
I traditionally prefer watercolours and oils, even if I sometimes combine different styles in a mixed technique, that may also include pastels, ink and so on, according to need.
In digital I try to use the same method, working as pictorially as possible.
Usually, anyway, everything starts from a first idea drawn in pencil, either real or digital, which I later refine  either with colours or ink, whether the final result has to be a color or B&W drawing.

6. Should you hope in a historic evolution of comics, what would you like that to be?

I dream of an explosion of comics and figurative art in general. I’d like this culture to attract more and more investments, in order to establish it more strongly in the audience and to encourage a more diversified and varied demand. I realize this may sound like an answer you could hear at a beauty pageant, but this is actually my dream. I’d like the audience to become more and more interested and curious about new works, because it’s always the viewer who makes the difference.

A publisher who is working very well in this direction is Bao, who offers great products, high-quality and nicely packed, by experienced and newer authors alike, so I think indeed there’s some hope.
I think digital art can help making younger generation interested as well, by expanding the expressive possibilities of this medium.
I happened to see digital interactive comics, which play with depth-of-field effects as if they were 3D: I found them actually great.
In a nutshell, I love comics, videogames, animations, picture books, boardgames and so on, and the only historic evolution I wish for is to have more and more of them!