Will Scott Interviews Gabriella Giandelli
The ethereal and dream-like quality of Gabriella Giandelli’s work is both compelling and bewitching. She is a lyrical artist deserving of worldwide recognition.
Her hauntingly exquisite book Interiorae has been translated into English and can be ordered from Fanatagraphics here.
I am delighted to present my interview with Gabriella to our readers.
Will Scott: Was creativity a large part of your childhood? Were you encouraged to be creative? Were you a dreamer?
Gabriella Giandelli: I was a dreamer and I still am. When I was young I loved to draw clothes for my dolls. When I was seven I created a personal fashion magazine where I described the clothes; the description – the kind of materials, the colours, etc. – was very detailed. Inside I created different environments, clothes for adventurous life, for domestic life, by the sea, in the city, in the country, and so on. I enjoyed like crazy putting together the magazine; at one point I was making one every month. In those years I dreamed of becoming a fashion designer.
WS: There are so many different ways for an artist to showcase their work: art galleries, film, music, book illustration, animation, etc. How did you come to choose comic books? Or did comic books choose you?
GG: I started thinking about comics only after the School of Arts, when I was 20.
I was very much inspired by Frigidaire, in Italy and in the USA, Raw. But before those appeared I had not been an avid reader of comics.
I saw that it was possible to tell stories with comics outside of the previous conventional limitations of the medium. There were fewer constraints on the drawing, a greater interest in experimentation, and this interested me very much.
WS: As a reader, what types of stories most interest you?
GG: I love so many different types of works and I admire many authors enormously: Lorenzo Mattotti, Daniel Clowes, Chris Ware, Jacques Tardi, Ludovic Debeurme, David B, Jose Munoz. Surely I forgot many others…sorry!
WS: Lorenzo Mattotti continues to be a tremendous inspiration for you. What was it that you responded to when you first encountered his work?
GG: In his work I found a strong poetic element and I felt a strong force for innovation. I liked his freedom and ability to deal with the text and the story, with a careful attention to detail in the drawings. I admire the effort he makes to find the right color every time, the temperature, the ideal figure for each type of story. And every new work he does is really new, he is able to change and evolve his style every time.
WS: Your work seems to embrace the surreal. Do you see the world as a bit surreal?
GG: I try to focus on aspects of life related to the magical, the irrational. Life is hard; I place my hopes in finding all the things in the world that seem to be less harsh, less sad. I’m interested in the spirituality of many aspects of life.
WS: Comics and film are part of the same family, so it comes naturally to ask whether you are, or have been, influenced by film? Have other media – music, painting, sculpture, and so on – influenced your work?
GG: The movies are absolutely my greatest source of inspiration. I graduated in directing at the Film School in Milan. I love the ritual of seeing a movie at the cinema, in the dark. I always try to watch films at the cinema, then I watch them again at home on the computer monitor.
I like many directors, and have recently been recently watching the films of Terrence Malick. And there are some young filmmakers that I really love: Richard Kelly, Andrew Dominik and Duncan Jones. In Italy, Paolo Sorrentino.
WS: Do ideas come to you more easily under some circumstances than others? Do you get ideas while walking down the street, or having coffee in a café? Do wake up in the middle of the night and run to your drawing board?
GG: The ideas come at the oddest moments. They’re associations. Ideas can come at any time; maybe I’ll see something that makes me think of something else and that triggers an idea. It’s not something specific that happens or a specific circumstance…Well…yes, it happens often during the night but I’ m too lazy to get out of bed, I wait for the morning. I’m fortunate to have a good memory!
WS: Can you describe for our readers the process of creating a comic book page? Do you consciously and deliberately consider the basic elements of a comic’s page – time, rhythm, space, shape and punctuation – when you create a page of art, or do you work mainly from intuition?
GG: My method is pretty intuitive. I try to produce a general outline of the story, break it up into stages, narrative moments, and at that point I determine the number of pages it’ll be. Then I face the pages one by one, but I change my mind often during the process, I don’t have a rigid schedule. I don’t do a storyboard that I stick to. I like to change my mind relying on instinct.
WS: What art supplies do you use? Many comic artists work with different tools and materials before settling on the type of paper, paints, ink, pens and brushes that they are comfortable with. Was this your experience as well?
GG: I usually use paper and colored pencils, recently I’ve begun using many different types of graphite pencils along with colored. Sometimes I use also the China ink and white tempera.
WS: Are there some aspects of your work that give you particular pleasure? Are there some aspects of your work – or of being an artist – that are more demanding or emotionally challenging than others?
GG: There is a moment when I create an environment, a scene or a character that makes me happy. It is a feeling of peace and euphoria that comes when I feel that this thing that I have produced on the paper works; it’s beautiful and it’s mine. I mean, I feel it has a real relationship with me. Everything else is part of my effort to achieve this magical moment.
WS: Are there writers with whom you would most like to collaborate if the opportunity arose?
GG: I would love to work with writers. But it has not happened yet. If he were still living, I would ask to Raymond Carver to do a graphic novel with me.
WS: Interiorae has been translated into English and published in North America by Fantagraphics. Can you please tell our readers what it’s about and why it is particularly attractive to North American audiences?
GG: Interiorae is the story of the life of a building. I imagined that the traces of the passage of people who live inside it kept the building alive as something organic, like the lymph of a tree that has roots in the ground. The story started from there, but I was interested in pointing to the absence of respect and sincere communication between people who, although sharing the same roof, refuse to consider their neighbors part of their life experience. I find this a very painful condition of the life in the city, and I tried to talk about it.
Then I was interested in the symbolism of locations and spaces in the house; the cellar as a place of the unconscious and dreams revealing hidden truths. I tried to tell a choral story. I hoped it would be a theme that would interest the American readership.
WS: Do your personal experiences inform your work or do you keep your personal life and your creative work separate.
GG: The two things cannot be disconnected. It would not make sense to me.
WS: If a publisher allowed you to create any project that you wanted – from story and art, to book design, to paper and binding – what would your fantasy project with them be?
GG: There are many things I’d like to do. Sometimes I think it might be fun to design a pop-up story for adults.
WS: If you did not work in comics, what medium would you work in? Or would you choose a career other than art?
GG: I often work as an illustrator but my dream is to do animation. I wish I could combine film and drawing. If I had not chosen comics I would like to have designed costumes for the theater or the cinema.