We met Alina Vergnano, Copenhagen based illustrator. Born in Turin, Italy, 24 years old, Alina is a big fan of white pages, white canvas, white walls. She literally likes all the surfaces where she can draw her own world on.
Let’s talk about the character of your illustration: who is the girl? She is emotional, delicate, she has deep thoughts and moments of loneliness. How much of you there is in this girl?
I have always been the starting point to build my characters. Illustration used to be my way to express how I was feeling, my thoughts my impressions and my doubts, then, with the time, the girl of my drawings became something abstract, more like a symbol of the thoughts we all have, of our feelings and our silences. I use to think a lot over my feelings, analyze them, think about my attitudes, my way to interact with other people and with things around me. I constantly try to analyze and go deeper and deeper in the tangle of undisclosed emotions I am and we are all made of.
So, if in this girl there is of course a big part of me and of my sensibility, and people around me are an inexhaustible source of inspiration too, I dip into their stories giving attention to every word, said or unsaid. And I find in silences a lot of words.
Talking about the watercolor series. Was it just an incidental approach to that technique or you actually find watercolor suits to the delicate tones of your work?
In general I prefer using liquid techniques, like ink and watercolors to the dry ones, like pencils and acrylics. I think they fit more my style and my stroke, making it more spontaneous, less precise. When in fact I choose a dry technique the line becomes a little bit stuck, looking for precisions and cleanliness and the drawing normally lose freshness.
Watercolors are very delicate, and I like to use them just when the atmosphere of the work requires it.
I have used them for example to create a series of faces “Lost”, there I felt like the tones, the transparency of the watercolors, where perfect to describe that floating feeling that accompanies the sensation of being lost. Not lost for real, of course, but lost in thoughts. Weightless and dreamy. Lost from the straight paths of the world outside.
Ink Series. Which is the difference in working with Ink? Why should you prefer it to watercolors?
Ink is my favorite medium of work because I think that the strength of ink balances perfectly the delicateness of the characters I draw and of the concepts behind my work. I like its blackness, the force of a black thick stroke on a page. I like the contrast between empty and filled spaces.
When you draw in black and white it is like to have less words to describe a concept and so you just go straight to the point. Everything is in the line, in the balance of spaces and I think the attention focus more on the concept you are expressing.
Ladies, Panties and Plants. This series could be good to promote a brand. Which is your relation with illustration applied to commercial purposes?
The series you are talking about in fact has been created for a contest organized by a fashion brand. It was actually the first time I was trying to do something specifically for fashion, and the result is in a way a little bit far from my usual works. But I’ve already worked a lot, and I am about starting a new collaboration, in food-packaging design.Since forever I’ve been fascinated by the use of hand-types, illustration and traditional animation in the commercializing of products.
Maybe some artists can find uncomfortable dealing with advertising, because it requires to adapt your work to contents that you would never have thought for it. But actually I’m fine with it, I think this kind of contamination it’s very interesting and it can always enrich both parts being on a side a fun job for an illustrator and also giving to the world of advertising something new and beautiful to bring to people beside the product they sell.
You took part to various exhibitions in the past. Do you want to share with us one of these experiences?
I’ve started quite soon, while I was still studying illustration in Torino, to be involved in small group exhibitions with other young illustrators. During the last period of my studies I had my first solo exhibition in a small venue in Torino and I had another one in Bologna. Last time I got back to Torino I have participated in a collective exhibition organized in the beautiful spaces of Hannibal Factory. Was really special for me because I was called back home to exhibit with most of the young Illustrators and photographers both emerging or established talents coming out from my hometown, and it’s so nice when you are living abroad since a while and you came back home feeling like that you are still considered part of something there.
But I think the best is yet to come, I have two openings planned almost in the same days in Turin, just on the beginning of November. One will be at the Contemporary Art Fair The Others, that takes place in Torino in the same period of Artissima, and the other will be a group exhibition in amazing unconventional venue in the center of the city, the crypt of the San Michele Arcangelo church.
You recently participated to the Helsinki Comics Fair with your publication Thaumatropical. Can you tell us something about the printing experience? And about your followers?
Participating with Thaumatropical to the 28th Sarjakuvafestivalit, the international comic festival of Helsinki, was a very big test for this young editorial project created by me and the artist Mattia Lullini. The idea of the project is to create illustrated books, zines, art-books in very small numbered editions, bounding every book by hand and focusing on various techniques of artistic printmaking, like the linocut print, to make every book also a little piece of art.
With Thaumatropical I have published my first illustrated book “The wind was blowing strongly”, a big sized book in a numbered edition of 50 copies with an hand-made japanese bound and with all the covers printed from a linocut. Was a really long process but this is what make this book something really special. I love that my first book is also such a precious object and I love how people get this at first sight and appreciated this so much.
I think there is a growing consideration about the attention to detail in these days, of the value of the object itself, and I think this is kind of a reaction to the invasion of the big scale production that bring to us object with short life and discussible quality. What we want to create are beautiful books that are also beautiful and valuable objects, giving attention to the unicity and the handcrafting. And because of this the next goal of the project will be involving other artists on the production of books entirely printed by hand and with artistic and completely anagogic printmaking techniques.
As you mentioned before you are going to participate to the new Contemporary Art Fair The Others in Turin, we saw the cells last year and the exhibiting space is quite special. Could you tell us which works will you present?
The place where the Fair will take place is an old prison in which every art gallery who participate has a cell assigned. The project I’m preparing consist in an installation of pieces of glasses that I’ve took from frames. On the glass surface small figures and big staring eyes will appear. Frightened glances, returned glances. Bare silhouettes laid on transparent glass. Small phrases, words coming out from the surface, whispered or just thought. There will be loneliness but also encounters on that cold ground. Definitions who cage us. Persons who run, persons who stay. There will be no frames, like a puzzle representing us: short distances, no touching.
I’m preparing a lot of works, dealing with working from distance and transporting pieces from here to there. For example, I’m finishing this interview while I am stuck at Malpensa Airport waiting for my luggage that has just been lost in Bruxelles and that contains the work that I have to show to the gallerist in the next few days. Exciting, right?!