For the month of November, we want to give special attention to the illustrators that have generously lended their creativity to the stories we publish! Through collaboration with Milan Illustrations Agency (MIA), we have come across many talents, diverse in style and technique. So, we’d like to kick off this Illustrator Spotlight Series by recognizing Lucia Mongioj, illustrator for Taming the Flame: A Story of Mastering Emotions.
Born in Novara, Italy, Mongioj always had a desire to draw. After graduating from the F. Casorati High School of Art, she attended the European Institute of Design in Milan. Specializing in Illustration and Advertising, Mongioj has participated in many illustration workshops with international artists. But, it was children's illustrations that Mongioj was fascinated by. “Maybe [it was] for my personal desire of a never-ending age of imagination and [youthfulness],” Mongioj shared in her online bio. And it’s this interest and passion that has offered her plenty of opportunity.
In conversation with Young Authors Publishing Assistant Editor, Brooke Shannon, Mongioj discussed her artistic inspiration, her experience illustrating for Taming the Flame, and her creative advice to youth.
Brooke Shannon: How do you get inspired to produce a piece of artwork?
Lucia Mongioj: When I am going to make an illustration, I study the subject I want to represent according to the reference text. In the illustration, the harmony between text and images is very important. They must coexist and give life to something meaningful and aesthetically pleasing. I try to visualize the situation and then the message that I want to communicate with my images.
I think about the audience the book will be intended for: children, teenagers, or adults. It is very important to know who you are talking to and find out the best way to communicate. Then, I study the necessary techniques and colors in order to create a living and magical image. To be able to fascinate those who read the book, the study of the characters has also a great importance. They must be nice, beautiful, and empathetic. The inspiration comes from life, nature, the beauty that surrounds us, and images of established artists and illustrators that I personally look at and observe.
Illustrating for children or for young people, for example, means observing them, understanding them, seeing how they move, and how their lives unfold among the small and large goals that they set themselves each day. The inspiration is to observe life and capture its poetry.
BS: What was your favorite part of working with Young Authors Publishing & why?
LM: I really enjoyed working with Young Authors Publishing for several reasons. First, I like the contents of their books. Taming the Flame, the book I illustrated, is a text discussing kids' ability to navigate their emotions. They often find it difficult managing their instincts in the best way so that they can live in harmony with their peers at school and in life in general. The young people's behavioral dynamics are interesting topics to deal with, especially when it's told through a light and sympathetic story in which they can imagine characters that are part of the story.
I like, therefore, the innovative message of this publishing house. It’s current and highlights situations of contemporary life as well as the social dynamics of children through adventurous stories. The narratives are very addictive, involving heroes that children can easily identify with.
Working with Young Authors Publishing, I felt free to show my illustration style, to express myself, and follow my way of seeing situations. Being free allows you to develop your art in the best way.
BS: What advice would you give to young, aspiring artists?
LM: A fundamental piece of advice that I can give to those who want to undertake this wonderful work is to put so much passion into what they want to do. The desire to illustrate must be great as well as the study that must be done (techniques, drawing). It is also important to work on your own personality and style; to look for a personal and new way of communicating with images. Also, be inspired by established artists of the present and the past. The creativity we have available is immense. Finally, love what you do always! One should feel that it would not be possible to do anything else in life.