The Heroine’s Journey of Manuela Marazzi

What is the best thing that I love about my work? Being honest. An illustration works only if you find something truly original to say, and the best way to do so is to dive into yourself: whether to fish a childhood memory or to give a point of view on something you really care about. Then it speaks for itself.

What is my idea of perfect happiness? Being “where the wild things are”.

What is my greatest fear? Losing my freedom. And my hands.

What is the trait that I most deplore in myself? Singing off-key. Also figuratively speaking, like not giving a situation the adequate reaction.

Which living persons in my profession do i most admire? Lisandro Estherren, since the first time I had the chance to see him at work, as talented as humble. Then many others, like Igort, Andrea Serio, Federico Bertolucci, Lorenzo Mattotti, Cyril Pedrosa, Isabelle Arsenault, Beatrice Alemagna.

What is my greatest extravagance? Dance in my studio when I get overwhelmed by deadlines, crazy client request or simply stuck on an anatomy that doesn’t work: I put some music on and dance alone for myself.

On what occasion would I lie? Whenever I’m in a foreign country and people cook pasta for me to make me feel welcomed. Happens more often than one could imagine.

What is the thing that I dislike the most in my work? Inner judge, because can be tricky finding the right balance between a constructive self-criticism and getting trapped by one’s own fears.

When and where was I the happiest, in my work? When I was starting the “illustration and visual storytelling” residency in the New York School of Visual Arts: it felt like something was changing and would never be the same again. Well, actually it did, even if not how I imagined.

If I could, what would I change about myself? I would expand my ram memory in order to learn and remember more things. Like how to whistle. In tune, of course.

What is my greatest achievement in work? It still has to come, in this field one always has to push further, outside the comfort zone. But when at last year’s Rome Book Fair a children asked me for a signed copy, then while holding the book as a little treasure against her chest she told me that the illustrations made her choose it between all the others, everything made sense.

Where would I most like to live? My parents encouraged me since a young age to discover the world, so I have travelled a lot and still do, and even if I was lucky enough to see many places, my deepest bounds are with Southern Italy and Latin America.

What is my most treasured possession? My grandmother’s teachings.

What is my most marked characteristic? Big smile and sad eyes.

What is my most inspirational location, in my city? In my hometown, Naples, is La Gaiola: this marine protected area with a haunted manor in front of it and many legends flowing between the sea and the majestic Vesuvius. In Rome, the town I’m living in, is Villa Borghese: the heart-shaped green park where my grandfathers married.

What is my favourite place to eat and drink, in my city? In Naples obviously my mother’s place! In Rome I really enjoy summer dinners at Villa Pamphili, while to drink I love going to Comò, this tiny place in my neighborhood, Montesacro, with very good vibe and better drinks.

What books influenced my life and how? At 9: “Polissena del Porcello” by Bianca Pitzorno, with Quentin Blake’s illustrations; the first book I read as an adult – or so I thought.

At 13: Andrea Pazienza, opera omnia. I just felt understood somehow.

At 16: Daniel Pennac, with Malaussene saga; it’s always like a friend’s speaking, helped me understand that family is a broader concept than it may seems, and it’s fine.

At 20: Jorge Amado and Eduardo Galeano, their atmospheres lead me straight to my first trip to South America.

Who are my favorite writers? Selva Almada, Matilde Serao, Simone de Beauvoir, Erri De Luca, Italo Calvino, Oliver Sacks.

You Only Die Once. What music would I listen on my last day? Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Brendan’s Death Song”, and possibly during its gloriously crazy New Orleans’ parade.

Who is my hero or heroine in fiction? Greg from “Over the Garden Wall”. I love his innocence and creativity, that makes everything possible.

Who are my heroes and heroines in real life? People like Pia Klemp, the German biologists captain of  Iuventa and Sea Watch, now facing a possible 20 year sentence for having saved thousands of human lives in the Mediterranean Sea.

Which movie would i recommend to see once in a lifetime? Only one may be “Exit through the gift shop”, Banksy’s documentary with very good thoughts on today’s mindset and media consumption. But what a pity not to see everything by Paul Thomas Anderson, Miyazaki and Fellini, to begin. After all, eyes are for watching, right?

What role plays art in my life and work? Helps me see things not only as they are but as they could be.

Who is my greatest fan, sponsor, partner in crime? Ambra, my best friend and soul sista.

Whom would I like to work with in 2019? I would be honored to illustrate a story by Selva Almada, Giovanna ZoboliValeria Parrella, Nadia Terranova, Elena Ferrante or Assia Petricelli. Also, any project related to music would be a very interesting path to explore.

Which people in my profession would i love to meet in 2019? I am very shy when it comes to illustration and artists I admire, anyway would be fascinating so see how Eva Sanchez Gomez, Lorena Cannottiere, Manuel Fior, Lorenzo Mattotti, Isabelle Arsenault and Marina Marcolin work.

What project, in 2019, am I looking forward to work on? It’s in the botanical illustration field, which in the last two years has been a growing love for me, but I can’t say anything more yet. Surely in the next months I’ll be posting updates of wild flowers and illustrations on the social network.

Where can you see me or my work in 2019? Drawing on location in botanical gardens.

What do the words “Passion Never Retires” mean to me? That I am lucky in having a good companion for all my life. There will be moments when I may have doubts, but a consistent artist is shown in the long run, so I’ll keep on running and searching, hopefully always driven by this inner fire.

Which creative heroines should Peter invite to tell their story? I’d like to hear more from this lovely neapolitan ladies: the illustrators Irene Servillo and Alessandra Vitelli, the photographers Alessandra Finelli and Claudia Mozzillo, the comic artist Cristina Portolano.

How can you contact me? (mail) (website)

la_mantu  (instagram)

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