[Zupi] How was it to participate on the comic book Roland Garros? How did they select the illustrators? What do you think about the final result of this interaction between Brazilian and French artists?
The whole thing happened too fast. On one day I was invited and when I noticed the story was already finished. I was too busy at the time, so I didn’t even had the time to ask who else was involved or to go to the exhibit in Belo Horizonte, unfortunately. I’m about to receive the catalog and there’s a lot of anxiety to see the material. This February we’ve had very good news: the story was selected to the 51th Communication Arts Illustration Annual, which, in my opinion, is one of the best catalogs about this subject.
[Zupi] About the adaptation of Dragon: Hound of Honor, how was the creative process? Why wasn’t it published? Tell us more about what happened.
I consider this another important point in my life. I grew up sharing the dream of making authorial comic books with a few people: my brother Bruno D’Angelo, Fábio Moon, Gabriel Bá and Peov. Since the beginning I felt I was the least “comic book artist” among them – maybe because the way I wanted to tell stories was more like what you see in illustrated books, and also the fact I invested more on my illustrator career than the others.
When they invited me to the project I immediately accepted, because it was a fantastic story on medieval themes and Julie Andrews, the author of the original story, would be involved too. But the opportunity came too early in my career, and I didn’t have many plans on what I was going to do. When the project was about to be launched, after all the negotiations and the adaptation of the story to HQ format, a long time had passed and I was being more and more requested for illustration works. When I tried to organize my schedule, I noticed it had no space left for anything else, both on my professional and personal life. I had just quit a job to start over a new career, and unfortunately couldn’t afford to dedicate six months just to draw the story while; I wasn’t ready. It was the right project but the wrong time, so I decided to quit before it took off. After a while it was canceled, unfortunately.
These are decisions we have to make looking at the big picture, because reality kicks you in the face every minute and we can’t live on dreams. I decided that if I was going to make comic books and dedicate some of my time to tell stories, they’d better be my own, told by the way I see them. So I began to participate on anthologies, exactly because these publications are all about short authorial stories. Today It’s the perfect thing for me, because it doesn’t take so much time.
[Zupi] How was it to participate on the Comic Book Tattoo? All works were inspired by Tori Amos’ songs. Which one inspired you on the creation of Marianne?
This was the second project of this genre I participated for Image Comics, mixing music and HQ. The first one was the Put That Book Back on the Shelf, with stories inspired by Belle & Sebastian’s songs. On both projects I chose the song with no attaches to the original interpretation. In the case of Marianne it was because we listened a lot to the album Boys for Pele on the studio, and this was one song I loved. When I finally decided to pay attention to the lyrics, I noticed it was very related to the story, which talks about the loss of someone you love, someone who left too soon. Although it was a strange coincidence, it felt good because everything seemed to fit.
It was amazing to be on such an audacious book, on a project with high investments compared to what they usually put on anthologies, besides the audacity of the unusual book design. Because of its large dimensions (60x30cm) I could create a story where I too would be audacious. I wanted something more than just a story, I wanted something to completely change the reading pace of the book, a contemplative moment between balloons. And I think it worked out, a lot of people got that sensation of stopping and just staring at the big images; a story that brought other stories, some told me.
In 2008 I could go to San Diego Comic Com for the release, where I met lots of other authors and artists, besides Rantz Hoseley, the editor who brought the project to life, and Tori Amos, of course. Since then, the book was very successful and won the Eisner Awards and Harvey Awards as the best anthology. I only have good memories about it.
Dog on Wheels
[Zupi] Which type of illustration you like to do the most? How do you select the works you’re requested for?
I usually don’t prefer any kinds; I like the balance between áreas, I like being able to create for diverse segments, and each one has its own history, creative process and timing. It’s my nature not to keep on the same thing for a long time, as you can see in my career. Today I work in advertising, tomorrow in editorial work, next week only God knows what, as long as it makes sense and fits in my schedule. I don’t usually choose jobs, I’m a professional creating for my clients. Of course there are a few restrictions, I can’t accept the obscene values that had been around on the market (specially editorial market) and I don’t do anything illegal. Excepting that, everything is on.
[Zupi] How does it feel to see your work being shown on other countries?
I’m happy for this recognition, because it’s not easy. It’s worth every investment I made.
[Zupi] What do you think is missing for illustrators to be more recognized in Brazil?
I believe that professional illustrators get the recognition they deserve from the ones we directly contact, may they be clients, colleagues or admirers. If I do a good job, I got the necessary recognition from the people I care about. Maybe because illustrators don’t get exposed by the media there’s the impression they are not well recognized, but then I ask: who else should recognize us?
We live in a country where the ass talks louder. Nowadays, exposing your bottoms on the TV or magazines may turn you into a millionaire, and this constant search for fame spread inconsequently over the country, turning it into a sad reality show.
What is missing is respect. Not only for illustrators, but with professionals from creative fields such as photographers, copywriters, journalists, designers etc. Everyone gets cheated over and over just because of this sick mentality of instant fame. What fame?
It became the 21th century trade coin. As if the values offered for our services weren’t underestimated, what goes on today is a servile competition full of bad intentions. Marketing professionals found a miraculous fountain for their clients, shamefully taking advantage of a zombie generation who are running for the big prize without conscience about the damage this is doing. What once came on with shy approaches, today is spit on our faces by companies who could properly pay for a quality advertising campaign.
Professionals who have been working for a long time, who got experience, knowledge and talent, are being exchanged for open contests which promise to “promote their work” for nothing. Whom to, my dear? For the housekeeper who saw the commercial on the TV? Show me the credits. At the campaign hotsite, which will be put out after the contest? Who remembers last year’s winners?
I asked that question to some of my clients and none of them could answer; some didn’t even know about their own contests, who’d say about the winner. And they are right ignoring that, because for them these competitions aren’t a proof of quality or professionalism; these guys look for people they can trust on. Only who works know what this suffocating routine is like, the frantic pace when you’re creating a campaign, the hurry to deliver a cover in a couple of hours, the knowledge it takes to create works with historical approach or clear and creative infographics. If I were a creative director and someone showed me on his resume that he won any of these little contests, I would told him to get out, because it proves nothing to me.
I’m not all against contests. Like Alarcão said, there is the “good free” and the “bad free”, but it seems like a whole generation lost track of that and are attracted by this light like moths. Yes, there are well-intended contests and opportunities for you to show your work, all it takes is ten minutes to read the rules. But if they’re promising you the air you breathe, jump out because that is already yours.
We can’t give for free the only thing we have to sell. We can’t afford to lose that time, we should use every precious minute to invest in ourselves. Can’t get any work? Develop personal projects, study, practice, trade cards. You need to believe in your own talent and stand for your voice without selling out. The last of the silly contests literally promised the winner 15 minutes of fame… and that was it! If it keeps going like that, soon the only recognition we get will be as debtors.
You get recognition from working well, consciously investing in your career. If you’re looking for glamour, show your ass on TV.
[Zupi] In which names of the illustration and art scene you see a differential?
I love the work by Zé Otávio Zangirolami; the way he’s not scarred to use primary colors, how he uses uncommon materials such as adhesive tapes, the loose and unpretentious traces on his characters. I think it’s very contemporary and fits in any situation, besides the fact his originals transcend their original functionality and can be sold as art.