The Heroine’s Journey of Arianna Milesi

What is the best thing that I love about my work as storyteller? I work as an artist and as an illustrator, both jobs can be conceived as different storytelling areas. In general, I like to think of storytelling as a good way to express and nurture people’s imagination and mine.
What is my idea of happiness? When someone is moved by my work. It’s an ideal situation when you know that your job can make a difference because it might inspire someone. To know that as many people as possible are fine (utopia), to be in a good mood, nicely dressed, in a beautiful, historical city with my husband, devoting my time to my favourite activities and to my dearest living creatures, my cat included. In this particular moment, a huge happiness would come from finishing the radical restyling of my illustration portfolio, which was long overdue.
What is my greatest fear? Illness, mine, of the planet and of my beloved ones. It might sound corny, but another scary thought is to have the impression that I didn’t do everything I could to achieve something.
What is the trait that I most deplore in myself ? Sometimes, I feel I don’t have enough self-esteem to deal with this world. I guess it’s something chronic, like asthma. Self-doubt is at times overwhelming.
Which living persons in my profession do i most admire?
Among artists:
Barbara Kruger,
Olafur Eliasson,
Tracey Emin,
Michela Martello,
Christine Sun Kim.
Among illustrators and comic book artists:
Alison Bachdel,
Lorenzo Mattotti,
Johanna Concejo.
What is my greatest extravagance? There are far too many. I’m particularly fond of these two: I am unbearably disappointed when my pencils are not sharp enough.
I spend so much time just checking each and every one of them, I wouldn’t notice if my house
were on fire; I eat everything with chopsticks.

On what occasion would I lie? To save someone, to avoid an injustice.
What is the thing that I dislike the most in my work? The quite common idea that success is more important than the quality of what you create, the feeling that many colleagues, be they artists, illustrators or both, don’t conceive their jobs as a mission but just as a way to achieve some degrees of social coolness.
When and where was I the happiest, in my work? Nine years ago, when I started to collaborate with my gallerist Paola Silvia Ubiali ( For the first time, I felt ‘officially’ an artist.
I was also incredibly happy when a friend of mine sent me a picture of her child, while he was
reading the first book I ever wrote and illustrated.
If I could, what would I change about myself ? I would start by getting rid of hypochondria, not just from me but from the whole Earth. I would also like to be more tolerant with myself and not so brainy.
What is my greatest achievement in work? When I was a kid I used to dream of my adulthood as a moment in life when I would be able to immediately recognize a given painting and its author, and when I could draw anything quite easily. I think I am on the right path.
Where would I most like to live? I have no idea. I would just like to be closer to those friends and family members I don’t see enough, at the moment. Five years ago, I would have probably answered Milan or, even more, Venice, as I love being surrounded by water. Currently, I divide my time between the Lake Garda and York. I would have never imagined I would have ended up in either of these two places. I have to say that they are both beautiful, even though they can be quite challenging at times. I take it as a chance to sharpen my adaptability skills.
What is my most treasured possession? The strength of my imagination.
What is my most marked characteristic? I would say a very “spicy” cocktail of rationality and oversensitivity. Apparently, those who know me claim that, during a conversation, my silences and looks speak volumes.
What is my most inspirational location, in my city? I really enjoy strolling along the river Ouse in York, or the Lake Garda, depending on where I am. My favourite moments are early in the morning or at dinner time, in the evening, especially in winter. I love the sounds coming from homes, especially those produced by cutleries and laughs.
What is my favourite place to eat and drink, in my city? ‘My city’ is, for me, still my hometown, Bergamo, in Italy, so I would say Il Roccolino, a family-led restaurant I have been to since I was a kid.
It’s so good and unpretentious, with a wide range of more or less colourful customers. I would also like to mention the Blue Bell and Ippuku Tea House in York. Finally, Osteria il Gatto d’Oro and L’antico Pozzo at Lake Garda are also lovely places I would highly recommend.
What books inłuenced my life and how? Each of the following books had a long-lasting inłuence on me: Grazia Deledda’s “Canne al vento” showed me how to paint using words; Anaïs Nin’s “Henry and June” introduced me to D.H. Lawrence and helped me deal with my sense of guilt; Italo Svevo’s “Una Vita” got me to face depression; Bulgakov’s “Ļe Master and Margarita” and Italo Calvino’S “Se una notte d’inverno un viaggiatore” introduced me to surrealism; Virginia Woolf ’s “A room of One’s Own” confirmed a lot of impressions I had about being a female storyteller; David Markson’s “Wittgenstein’s Mistress” introduced me to postmodernism; Ungaretti’s poetry showed me the importance of conciseness; Nigel Nicholson’s “Portrait of a marriage” was a beautiful introduction to the English life.
You Only Die Once. What music would I listen on my last day?
“Teclo” by P. J. Harvey,
“Hurt” by Nine Inch Nails,
“Soothe” by Smashing Pumpkins,
“Tra le tue braccia” by Paolo Conte,
“Dimmi Tiresia” by Vinicio Capossela,
“I found my love in Portoŀno” by Fred Buscaglione,
“Addio Lugano Bella”,
“Onda su Onda” by Bruno Lauzi.
Who is my hero or heroine in fiction? Tiresias and the goddess Athena.
Who are my heroes and heroines in real life? My grandmother, St. Francesco from Assisi, Caterina Sforza, Tina Anselmi, Elsa Schiaparelli, Jacques-Yves Cousteau, Jennifer Guerra, my husband and someone I don’t recall now.
Which movie would i recommend to see once in a lifetime? Pietrangeli’s “Il magniŀco cornuto” or anything by Ettore Scola or Peter Greenaway.
What role play stories in my life and work? Essential. I start imagining plots every time I see a ladybug on my window, or when I find a hat someone lost on the sidewalk.
What do the words ‘You are the storyteller of your own life’ to me? I think of me as a storyteller but not as a demiurge, as I learnt from the many radical changes I had to face in my life. They now strike more for their liberating value than for the harm they had initially caused. To think we are always in control of our life is quite pretentious.
Who is my greatest fan, sponsor, partner in crime? My husband, my gallerist Paola, my publisher Dixi Books (, my friends Barbara, Laura ( and Elisabetta. A special mention goes to my father, who, from a different dimension, still is my greatest sponsor.
Which people or companies would I like to work with in 2021? I am particularly interested in creating illustrations for Food & Drink products and for Children’s books. I would love to work with a supermarket company like Waitrose, for the prominent role of traditional illustration in the packaging of their products, and for publishers like L’ippocampo edizioni (, Editions Format ( and Birlinn Publishing (, for which my pencil illustrations would be an ideal fit. As an artist, I would like to publish with NPE Edizioni ( and collaborate with Flamme Atelier (łamme_atelier/) and Galeria Esther Montoriol (, for their interest in the art of drawing.
Which people in my profession who can make a real difference in my creative career would i love
to meet in 2021?
As an artist, I would be thrilled to be introduced to Galleria Giovanni Bonelli
( and Albus Gallery ( As an illustrator, I would dream to be represented by one of the following agencies: IllustrationX (, for their focus on Food&Drink, Ļe Artworks Illustration Agency ( and Alice Williams Literary(, for the top quality of their Children’s Books illustrators.
What project, in 2021, am I looking forward to work on? I recently joined a very interesting art project called CAST ( started by Anna Cottle and Mariana Sainz, which aims to create a collaborative network of international artists, who will share their stories, inspiration and support. An artistic residency is also something I would be deeply interested in. I have a few projects on the table, but it’s too early to confirm they will happen in 2021.
Where can you see me or my work in 2021? Online and in UK bookshops. In particular, I’d like to mention, for their support to local bookshops. They sell the first book I both wrote and illustrated.
What do the words “Passion Never Retires” mean to me? My main passion is drawing and it’s not something that you just do, it’s a way of seeing reality, to investigate the world. I can’t honestly recall a moment in my life when I wasn’t thinking of the world as a complex structure of infinite lines.
Which creative heroines should Peter invite to tell their story?
Debora Zamboni,
Coquelicot Mafille.
How can you contact me?
For general enquiries, you can send me an email at:
For work enquiries, you can contact me here:, if you are interested in my art , if you are interested in my illustrations.

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