The Heroine’s Journey of Elisa Paganelli

What is the best thing that I love about my work? Being an illustrator allows me to explore always new ways to communicate from the quietness of my studio. I love that the process, sometimes intense and frustrating, makes me break out of my comfort zone.

What is my idea of happiness? I don’t think I believe in happiness. Instead I believe in tiny fragments of pure joy, the ones that can be found even staring out of the window.

What is my greatest fear? Human ego.

What is the trait that I most deplore in myself? I overthink and worry too much.

Which living persons in my profession do I most admire? I can’t say I am a fan of someone specifically. I am often inspired by people stories, especially those who turns their life upside down to follow their dreams.

What is my greatest extravagance? I am fascinated by hospitals.

On what occasion would I lie? Lying is against my nature, but I could choose to omit, (and face an inner war), in order to protect other people’s feelings.

What is the thing that I dislike the most in my work? It’s something that affects the whole world nowadays and it is the rush. The feeling of being in a hurry, unable to take the proper time to make research or to re-do from scratch that artwork you don’t like. I dislike the fact that market today seems to reward quantity over quality.

When and where was I the happiest, in my work? There has been many joyful moments; I recall when I’ve been commissioned the first job from a publishing house I admired; or when I decided to fully focus on illustration by selling my previous business activity.

If I could, what would I change about myself? I wish I were more able to “let go”.

What is my greatest achievement in work? I see my path as made by many tiny achievements. Each one important, especially those achieved despite my insecurities and despite those who have always repeated me that I couldn’t make it or that my ideas were too bizarre. Sacrifice and hard work are the basis of my accomplishments since when I left home as a young student to follow my goals, and then when I refused a promotion in an ADV agency to start my own business in the middle of a global economic crisis.

Where would I most like to live? I don’t feel I’ve got roots and my dream is to live here and there for a few years, discovering new cultures in an immersive way, and then find a spot in the wild nature to conduct an essential life. I still need to find that place. I was born and raised in Italy and I am now living in UK. Japan is one of the next places where I wish to spend some years.

What is my most treasured possession? I don’t like to “possess”. At some point in my life, many years ago, I decided to get rid of everything that was not essential to me. Everything apart from books, but I wouldn’t say that I possess them. Books are the best friends I could ever had.

What is my most marked characteristic? I’ve been often said that I am an empath and a problem solver.

What is my most inspirational location, in my city? In my birth town Modena: Piazza Grande and “Albinelli Market” in the early morning. In London: Somerset House, where you can get lost walking around the beautiful Neoclassical building, enjoy one of the exhibitions hosted there or simply contemplate the River Thames.

What is my favorite place to eat and drink, in my city? I like to discover always new places, I don’t have a favorite.

What books influenced my life and how? “The Empty Mirror: Experiences in a Japanese Zen Monastery” by Janwillem Van de Wetering “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind” by Shunryū Suzuki “The hidden persuaders” by Vance Packard. They all enhanced my (constant) research toward awareness.

You Only Die Once. What music would I listen on my last day? Something by Ludovico Einaudi and Ezio Bosso.

Who is my hero or heroine in fiction? There is a hero in every book and usually to me is the “underdog” that face his soul wounds.

Who are my heroes and heroines in real life? All the people that work to save the planet and innocent living beings, like the team of “Il Pettirosso Wildlife Center” – Italy.

Which movie would I recommend to see once in a lifetime? “Matrix”, and I’d like to add “The Platform”.

What role plays art in my life and work? Art is like a mirror to me and the way through which I can express my inner self.

What do the words ‘You are the storyteller of your own life’ to me? It means that we can always make our own choices and write new pages in our life story, knowing that each choice has consequences and affects the balance of everything around us.

Who is my greatest fan, sponsor, partner in crime? Among my 5 pets I think the 2 cats are the most active supporter. They are always at my side when I’m in the creative process, reminding me when it’s time to eat, to rest, and also for cuddles.

Which people or companies would I like to work with in 2020? I’d like to work more on self-help and psychology related themes in the future, perhaps with therapists and associations.

Which people in my profession who can make a real difference in my creative career would I love to meet in 2020? I am interested in expanding my knowledge in traditional techniques and I’d like to meet creatives that works with collage, block print, paper carving.

What project, in 2020, am I looking forward to work on? Several picture books I worked on are going to be released soon and I am currently working on some more that will be out in 2021. In the meantime I started an online project called “Show me Your Mess” which aim to explore the theme of suffering through various media, thanks to the contribution of professionals and their experience. This is something I can’t wait to spend more time on.

Where can you see me or my work in 2020? You can find my books at your local library and online. (Follow my social media to be updated).

What do the words “Passion Never Retires” mean to me? Passion is something that flows inside us, whether we like it or not and it grows and change until we’re alive. If we are able to convey that passion to others, then it will become endless.

Which creative professionals should Peter invite to tell their story for the heroine’s journey or hero’s journey project? Alice Padovani, Artist; Ines Seidel, Artist. Elisabetta di Terlizzi, performer.

How can you contact me?

Here follows a message of Peter de Kuster, founder of The Heroine’s Journey 


Are you a creative leader or creative professional looking to develop your business skills and storytelling?

Amidst today’s uncertainty, it is more important than ever to reconnect with yourself and others, develop your creative business, and build your story. Dive deep into your unique business style and areas for growth with the coaching of Peter de Kuster.


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    You are a creative leader or creative professional  who is interested in developing yourself, your business, and your story.

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    You are aware that there are no quick fixes. Learning is a journey that works when you are fully committed to it. Coaching can bring awareness and help you navigate, but in the end it’s you who is in charge of your growth.

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    You want to learn more about how to resource yourself, learn about blind spots, and get feedback.

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    You are curious and want to engage in online learning.

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    You are motivated to work in-between sessions on yourself (e.g. working on homework assignments that will help you develop new storytelling, skills, and behaviors).


The Heroine’s Journey Coaching is all about your development. To make the most out of your sessions, we ask you to prepare topics to work on with Peter. These topics can serve as a starting point for further in-depth exploration with Peter.

These coaching topics typically resonate with the creative leaders Peter works with:

How can i tell the most powerful story possible about myself and my creative business?

How can I handle self promotion and marketing of my creative business better?

How do can I stay authentic and with focus when having difficult conversations with potential clients?

What are my creative values and how do I align these with my business values?

How can I manage my time and energy better?

How can I radiate confidence to my clients while feeling anxious inside?

How can I steer myself towards creative excellence without becoming rigid?

About Peter de Kuster

Peter de Kuster is the founder of The Heroine’s Journey & Hero’s Journey project,  a storytelling firm which helps creative professionals to create careers and lives based on whatever story is most integral to their lives and careers (values, traits, skills and experiences). Peter’s approach combines in-depth storytelling and marketing expertise, and for over 20 years clients have found it effective with a wide range of creative business issues.


Peter is writer of the series The Heroine’s Journey and Hero’s Journey books, he has an MBA in Marketing,  MBA in Financial Economics and graduated at university in Sociology and Communication Sciences.

individual coaching for leaders


The Heroine’s Journey Coaching online sessions last 50 minutes and the fee is Euro 189 excluding VAT per session. The Heroine’s Journey Coaching is suitable for people at any stage in their career.


Who can sign up for The Heroine’s Journey online coaching?

Creative leaders and creative professionals who wish to improve their business story and develop their business skills and mindset.

Should I choose 1:1 coaching?

Our The Heroine’s Journey experiences in world cities allow you to learn not only from the coach but also from your peers. For the small group coaching (1 – 4 people), we have selected important, relevant topics that we find regularly come up for creative professional: purpose, storytelling, creative confidence, self promotion, time & money and resilience.

If you would prefer to work alone or on a different topic, individual coaching is a better fit for you.

What language do we speak in the coaching sessions?


Can I buy coaching for my organization?

Yes, you can! We support many organizations around the world with their coaching needs. Please contact us for more information.

Can I bring my own topics?

Yes, for individual coaching you get to choose your own topic.

Are coaching sessions confidential?

Yes. Peter will not share anything that is discussed in the coaching sessions.

Where will the coaching sessions take place?

Sessions will take place online (as per the times we live in) via an online tool like Zoom or Skype. Peter will let you know.

How do I sign up?

Send Peter a mail to to start booking your coaching sessions.

How do I pay?

After you send the mail, you will receive an email with a link to pay.

How do I book and reschedule sessions?

Once we’ve received your payment, Peter will contact you and book your coaching sessions. He will also support you with rescheduling sessions if needed.

What is your cancellation policy?

Individual coaching sessions can be postponed up to one week before the session.

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