Interview with

Luca Zontini


Hi Zont and welcome to our community!


1. Tell us a little about yourself: what was your journey that led you up to this point?

I think I chose to draw even before learning to speak.
Drawing is really something primordial, it is one of the first forms that a child makes to show his presence to the world.
Through the first signs on a sheet of paper, it is not only a representation of it, but scream to the world: “Here I am, look at me, I am here too!” In my life I did a lot of things through drawing, and they all guaranteed me a living.
Despite this, and if I have to do it, I like to call myself simply a “designer”.

Luca Zontini


I choose this form of art to say to the world “ I’m here”, and at the same time make a living out of it. Is there anything better?

2. Being an illustrator today in Italy what does it mean, has changed compared to 10 years ago?

There are many fields of illustration, and I can not say how much the changes have affected different areas.
From my starting point up to today a lot of time has passed and I have seen my work change several times, but I can say that what we live today is the beginning of another era.
The impact of new technologies, the web, social media and the access to a huge amount of information, where in my twenties was practically unimaginable, it has changed all the dynamics of our work. The relationship with the clients, the management of the assignment from the rough to the definitive one, the role of publishers … in short, the panorama in a general and global sense has radically changed, in some ways for the worse.
It is a result of evolution, for every thing that is gained there must necessarily be one that ends up losing.
As far as the specific Italian situation is concerned, our problems are structural; the problem is political and cultural, but this topic would take us too far.

3.  Digital art and traditional art, how much can we do digital without knowing the traditional way?

Without prejudice to the basic principles of design, which are the basis and from which any instrument can be used, it can not be disregarded, I would say that the you can realize the first one without knowing the second perfectly, but you can not easily realize the second knowing only the first one. The reason why today we have a considerable number of very technical illustrators, in addition to the reasons expressed above, is that digital has eliminated all the problems that involved the use and management of “matter”. What kind of paper to use to get to that particular result? What kind of brush? How to mix colors in the best way to find that peculiar shade of green? What procedures to take to achieve that particular effect? How to calculate and reorder the huge variables given by the materials available? How to take advantage of a small road accident? I have studied many years the masters of the past and trying to give answers to these questions. But these answers have contributed extensively to the education of my artistic identity. Again, for what you earn, there is something you lose. Digital is a wonderful, practical and fast medium, but I find that it has flattened and massified the landscape. What I see around is good and technically excellent, but for me everything appears almost the same.

4. How is the “Appunti del dormiveglia” project start?

It comes from my insomnia, my passion for notebooks, the joy that gives you the draw for the simple pleasure of doing it, the need to return to a playful dimension that often work on commission does not allow you to have and, above all, from the need to give light to my imagination without a specific purpose.
Eighty per cent of my day I work for somebody else projects and create worlds that I have not conceived.
All of this is wonderful and extremely stimulating, it has enriched me and has increased my skills, but there comes a moment when you feel the need to give your “vision” of the world.
The notebooks drawings started because that needs!
I had to start again to do something that I interrupted for so many reasons many years ago, from the time of my speculations and youthful dreams.
At first they were simple drawings, which I elaborated as in a daily stream of consciousness; more than anything else I played with shapes.
Then the forms became creatures and characters, and the characters began to speak and take over, I almost feel they are drawing me and not the opposite.
Drawing by drawing everything take place, a world that I am now trying to structure in a more organic and functional way, declining it into narrative forms that I had not previously suspected.

5. Your illustrations have a recognizable and well-defined style, some recall a bit of the Burtonian world. How would you define your personal trait and what inspires it?

I must be honest, but I have never really think about it.
Style is the fruit of all that we have eaten over time, of the trait we have developed and recognized as ours in the work of others, and in large part is also the fruit of our destiny. In the moment we stop doing a good job and being authentic.
If I think about my drawings thirty years ago, they were unripe, more uncertain, naive and inaccurate, but they were not so different from those I do today.
Today I have the same sign, the same gesture, the same way of conceiving space, just … a little bit better.
It’s a bit like fingerprint, your fingers grow but you always stay the same. Looks like a miracle, don’t you think?
I see that my students are obsessed with style, and it’s kind of normal when you’re young.
They pay attention to “how” to say things when they should rather ask themselves, “what” to say. Style is a fake problem, everyone has his own, it’s just a matter of finding out, accepting it and improve. First there is study and research, then there is discovery and acceptance and finally there is refining and purification. Our stylistic identity springs from this long journey of research, balanced between desire and destiny.
Then you can work for a lifetime, of course, and it is also the most vital aspect of our work.
As our body and our thoughts change, so will your style.

6. You work for big companies such as Blizzard Entertainment and Wizards of the Coast. What distinguished you to get these collaborations?

When I was looking for a job in my young age, we used to take an appointment with the editorial staff or show up at the fairs, taking out the drawings from the folder under the arm.
That’s how I started working on “Magic the Gathering” at the end of the 1990s.
Back then that was really the only way possible.
Obviously the quality of what is done is fundamental, but I think it’s important to be in the right place at the right time.
I think I’ve always had a personal trait, and I think that back then, had its importance.
Successes, however, are the right combination between the quality of what you produce and the ability to grasp and take advantage of opportunities.
The difficult then, always comes later.

7. What would you recommend to a young talent who wants to apply as an illustrator for a company or agency?

Never stop studying, believing firmly but don’ be dully in what you do, don’t be upset when they say “it’s no good enough” but think about it and maintain the right level of humility and critical spirit that help  you to grow, and remember that the hardest part is not to get a job, but rather to maintain it over time.
So if I had to give the last advice, I would say that the most important thing is to be professional as much you can, with all that entails, especially if you want to work internationally.


Thank you very much for this interview and we hope to meet you soon 😉

Thank you for the nice questions, it was a pleasure.