Alessandra Sartoris was born and raised in Turin (Italy), a beautiful city surrounded by the snowy Alps.
As a child, she loved spending her time drawing horses, although she says, “It would have been better to make some friends instead!”
She graduated from IED (European Institute of Design) in 2008, with a major in illustration graphics. Soon after that, Alessandra started working as a graphic designer and illustrator for logo design, children’s books illustrations, characters design and more…
She developed her skills further by attending a course in photography and did a Masters Degree in motion graphic & design.
She loves searching for funny and weird details in people, objects and animals and transform them into grotesque and ironic characters… She says, “I think this is the best way to see the life around us, because too much seriousness fossilize the mind and the sense of humor.”
Here is Alessandra showing her process:
The first step is the sketch, done with pencil on paper.
Than I scan it and I open it in Adobe Illustrator where I trace it in order to get a clean vector sign. I proceed copy and pasting the vector track on my Photoshop file. Doing this I can select each part or the draw separately from the rest.
The workflow is quite similar to a traditional painting: first the base color and then, step by step, the shades and the details, the background in the end. Coloring with digital painting it is not necessary to make a color study before because I can change idea without loose the work done, I do it only when I work with traditional techniques, but it doesn’t happen very often. Usually I use traditional brushes and I use layers that are the most useful tool of Photoshop.
How long have you been illustrating?
Approximately 7 years if I consider also the school time.
What was the first thing you painted where someone paid you for your work?
I created an illustration for a magazine that deals with environment and territory at regional level. It represented a man with a balance on the shoulders, on the one hand the earth on the other the money that appears to have more weight. I treated the subject with irony, which is a main part of my style, and from there I obtained a contract for two more years of collaborations.
Have you always lived in Italy?
Yes, I have always had the dream to have an experience abroad but I didn’t find a good occasion. Anyway I traveled a lot during these years, I spent one month in USA as soon as I finished the school and than, each year I spent a short time abroad.
How did you decide to attend the European Institute of Design in 2008 and major in Illustration and graphics?
After art school, I decided to continue to deepen the passion for art and design and direct it to a specific profession. The European Institute of Design introduced me to the role of illustration in the professional world of visual communication.
What classes do you feel helped the most in developing your style?
Not a class in particular but the entire course of study directed me to develop my style that is not only the result of my learning path but also of my way of being, my character and the influence of famous illustrators.
What type of work did you do after you got out of school?
Just finished my studies I immediately tried working on commission that allow me to continue to perfect myself and increase my technical skills. I began working with publishers, agencies and companies not only as an illustrator but also as a graphic and web designer, I wanted to try to get more experiences possible in the world of visual communication and design.
Have you seen your work change since you left school?
Certainly yes, a lot, I deepened my attention to detail and the ability in the graphic synthesize, I increased the execution speed and the knowledge of the softwares.
Did the Institute help you get work?
At the beginning I’ve been involved by a studio of architecture with the task of draw textures for carpet and prospective colored in watercolor, this contact came from the Institute but remained the only one. Other school friends received other contacts for collaborations with different agencies.
What does getting a Master in Graphics and Motion Design get you ready to do when you graduate? Do you do animation?
I collaborate with a company who sponsored my studies at the master. It gaves me the opportunity to deep my knowladge in the use of softwares and of the workflow about what concern the motion graphics. Now I can create animated infographic, visual effects for videomapping and more. It is a vast and very complex field, with constantly technical updates, but the creative possibilities and the application fields are multiply. It opens new horizons and stimulates the desire to continue to deepen and improve in order to produce more and more professional projects.
How many picture books have you illustrated? What were the titles?
I illustrated three children’s book, two of them were about the same series called The Ranger’s tales the third one called Leopoldo, a tender hearted friend is the one I prefer. I also collaborated through my agent with the Oxford University Press to illustrate a double page for a children’s book.
What did you do to get those picture book contracts?
As soon as I finished the school I began to collaborate with a little publisher who commissioned me the two books about the Ranger’s tales, the third one has been published by another publisher who found my contacts on the web.
Has most of your work been with European publishers?
Yes they are.
How did you connect with MIA for representation? How long have you been with them?
This is a curious story… My father has a friend who is a very famous artist here in Italy: Ezio Gribaudo, now he is very old but remains an interesting man with a deep culture and a lot of stories to tell about his past, (he has known personalities as Picasso and Pollock). The first day I met him in his house/atelier in Turin I also met his daughter Paola who has published both original works by authors and art catalogues by some of the foremost and most popular artists, architects and writers of our time. As soon as she heard I worked as illustrator, she left me the contacts of her friend Shefalika who has an agency based in Milan and in Switzerland. I personally met her an the Children’s book fair of Bologna. Are three years that we collaborate…
Do you do any other types of non-children related art to make money?
Yes of course, illustrations for magazines or for products.
Would you be open to working with a self-published author?
Maybe yes, why not, it depends of the project.
Do you have any desire to write and illustrate your own picture book?
I did it; my father is a writer, we invented a character and a story. I illustrated it. The dream was to create a popular character for childrens with a series of stories write with the purpose of begin to sensitize children to respect nature and the environment, with a series of funny stories. The first one was Pino the Chicken, Panzerotto and the recycled paper. I believed in this project but it’s hard to find a good publisher real interest in develop it.
Do you take research pictures before you start a project?
Yes, always. It’s very important in order to get inspiration and all the informations necessary to create a good quality image.
Do you use Photoshop with any of your work?
Yes, it’s one of the most important tool together with Adobe Illustrator.
Do you have and use a graphic tablet?
Yes, a Wacom! I have it since 2008, I bought it during a travel in Canada. I’m very attached to it!
Do you have a favorite medium you use?
I use a mix of mediums to get my artworks, I begin from a handmade sketch, then step to digital software for color, they are all part of a workflow but the one I prefer is the sketch step!
Have you done any illustrations for educational publishers?
Only the double page illustarted for OUP ( Oxford University Press ).
Has any of your work appeared in magazines?
Not on magazines, but on a popular blog which counts many followers http://www.feeldesain.com/alessandra-sartoris-illustration.html
Have you ever tried your hand at a wordless picture book?
No I haven’t yet, but it could be an interesting challenge!
Do you have a studio in your house?
Unfortunately, it’s a little apartment so I’ve only the space for my personal desk and some staff on the shelves.
Is there anything in your studio, other than paint and brushes that you couldn’t live without?
Nothing in particular, only the necessary tools .
Do you follow any type of routine to attain your career goals?
No one in particular, only respect the deadlines, always keep in touch with the customer, be available and kind.
What kinds of things do you do to promote yourself?
Invest time on the web, sign in into websites and social networks and open a profiles on them to promote my portfolio.
Any exciting projects on the horizon?
Nothing about children’s book unfortunatly 😦 maybe a serie of animations to promote the business and the products of one of my customers, but it’s a work in progress yet, we have to agree about how to work on and develop them.
Do you think the Internet has opened any doors for you?
Yes, a lot of doors, most of the job commissions I received arrive from the web.
What are your career goals?
The work done for the company NVIDIA is maybe the most important. In collaboration with the company who I work with, we designed in less than one week an amazing show of video mapping to promote a new NVIDIA’s product, I took care about the choice and the editing of the soundtrack, the storyboard and some of the visual effects. I have had other commissions very stimulating at design level, but this remains the best one because of the importance of the brand and for the satisfactory payment I received.
What are you working on now?
Now I’m working on a storyboard for a commercial of biscuits and I’m collaborating with a fashion designer to develop his own personal project that could involved in something very interesting with the prolongation of the collaboration.
Are there any painting tips (materials, paper, etc.) you can share that work well for you? Technique tips?
Working mostly with digital tools I have not particular tips to share except for what concern watercolour paper: Arches and Schoeller are the best!
Any words of wisdom you can share with the illustrators who are trying to develop their career?
Do not throw yourselves in low spirit if the successes arrive late, the satisfactions come when you persist because is an uphill climb that requires sacrifice.
Thank you Alessandra for sharing your talent, process, and journey with us. Please make sure you keep in touch and share your future successes with us.
If you have a minute, please leave a comment for Alessandra. I am sure she’d love it and I enjoy reading them, too. Thanks!