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Meet Carmine, an Italian illustrator inspired by Japanese ukiyo-e art

Hi! I'm and I'm from Eboli, a small town in the South of Italy located between the Amalfi Coast and the Cilento Coast. Following several changes in my life, I decided two years ago to move to the North of Italy, in Turin.

What do you do for a living?

After many years of experience in an advertising agency as a graphic designer, I decided to quit my so-called 9-5 job and became a freelancer. Currently I am also involved in web design.

Did you always know that you wanted to be an artist?

It's a need that I have always fulfilled. In the past I was fully involved as a music producer until I gradually approached the world of illustration and motion graphics. I am not ruling out that soon I will be able to combine both graphics and music together.

How can you describe your art?

My art is mainly inspired by the Japanese ukiyo-e art, anime and science fiction genre. I think of many subjects or scenarios to represent even if I realized that I give my best starting from a detail, such as the texture of a kimono or the pose of a hand. In short, I like to tell a story through my method.

Which playlist/music puts you in the mood?

My most productive mood is like when you are under the blanket after a day full of tension and you hope it will last forever. That's the reason perhaps I tend to be meticulous on details. The playlist I carry with me is made of rap, uk garage, future funk and jungle, but also a lot of citypop and soul music when I'm feeling more nostalgic.

How is your creative process?

I review different subjects, usually taking inspiration from ukiyo-e works. I prefer female subjects because they are very harmonious and elegant. 99% of what I publish is vector graphics, done with a mouse or on iPad. I like to play with kimonos, geometric and floral textures that I alter following the folds. Finally I choose a palette according to the mood of the design and apply a grainy texture to give a sense of reality through the shadows.

When and how did you discover your style?

It all started when the whole nation was in lockdown. I was lucky enough to be stuck in Turin and worked remotely. In those moments I forced myself to restart my creativity and return to feel authentic. So, after several attempts playing with transparencies and shades I have reached what I can define as "my own style" especially because I can apply it everywhere and I can evolve it.

Mental health is vital for an artist to create; what is your power secret to continue creating every day? Has your art been helping you to express those feelings?

In the past I associated a bad moment as a necessary time to show my best as an artist. Today I prefer to feel grateful and appreciate who and what I have with me, the affections that surround me. What I create is the photograph of a precise moment that can follow me forever or no longer belong to me after a very short time. If I want to express myself and remain authentic, it is important that I recognize the idea that comes, both in the calm and in the storm.

How do you prepare yourself every day to get new clients and commissions?

I started this year as a freelancer so I am orienting myself from time to time. The amazing thing is that I got commissions as soon as I began, and I still haven't done as much to promote myself as I planned to do. I'm following a routine, from waking up time with Mob, my cat, who took the place of the alarm clock (best alarm I've had so far!). I divide my time between personal projects and client’s. Filling multiple positions together can be challenging but it gives me a lot of freedom, and I'm happy with that.

What is the best part of being an artist?

I don't know yet whether to define myself as such, I feel more like a person with many creative interests. I have tried to do many things in the past, such as music production, photography and now illustrations, surprisingly with good results. I recently read that having a thousand interests would make me a multipotential (perfect definition when I'm inspired) or a very distracted person (when I'm not).

What was the best advice someone ever told you?

In no particular order "be authentic", "it's never really over", "be good to yourself".

Which artists are an inspiration to you?

Satoshi Kon for his ability to intertwine reality, dream, and fantasy. Hideaki Anno for teaching me how to love myself through his works. Cyberpunk culture is also an inspiration for telling the present in advance. And then the friends I made music with, for the impact those moments had in my life.

What will be your advice to new artists?

Don't waste your time when you feel like you don't want to do something. Competition matters but that's not everything. Don't do it to please others.

How can other people find your work?

At the moment my illustrations are on my instagram and soon will be also on my website which I am working on.



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