Posted by: Kathy Temean | February 3, 2018

Illustrator Saturday – Daniela Volpari


Daniela Volpari is a freelance illustrator currently living in Rome, Italy. She graduated from the International School of Comics in Rome. She mainly uses traditional techniques in her illustrations.  Daniela has participated in several exhibitions in Italy, Los Angeles, and Paris. Her picture books are published in Italy, France, New Zealand, Spain, Russia and America.

Here is Daniela discussing her process: This is an illustration from “Un Amour Américain” book. 

Storyboard: you can see my first idea, very simple lines. In the middle the fold of the book. horizontal lines on the left are the text space.

Pencil: all characters and objects are defined. Many of them are studied separately before being included in the final illustration. To do this I have been inspired by many films, like “The Godfather”.

Colortest: here I do different color experiments with Photoshop, as long as I’m not satisfied with the result. This serves me as a guide before painting.

Final: Here the final result, with traditional technique tempera (or gouache) painting.   The original illustration is made on Arches paper satin 300 gr,  size: 31 x 54 cm.

Part: a zoom on the particular. My illustrations are not all so large and complex. In this case I took about 2/3 weeks to complete everything, but normally a medium-sized illustration takes about 4/5 days between design and coloring. Unfortunately, my time is above all about coloring. But I love it!



How long have you been illustrating?

Since I finished my studies I immediately started working, so I’m an illustrator from about 8-9 years. but passion has always been there.

What and when was the first painting or illustration that you did where someone paid you for your artwork?

My first real paid job was “La Bohème” illustrated book. It was a very strong emotion. I had an indescribable enthusiasm. I am always enthusiastic and excited about starting new projects of course, but obviously the first one is never forgotten.

What made you choose the International School of Comics to study illustrating?

I have always wanted to do this job but here in Italy there were still not many schools and the information was poor. By chance, I stumbled into an illustration show of the students who came out of this school. I was very impressed because they were very good and it was just the kind of design that I wanted to do.

Did the school help you find illustration work?

Yes, let’s say that as much help as possible, it’s you who have to work alone to look for a job. In the school I have been able to refine the technique and have a portfolio in line with market demand. Proposing oneself to publishers then inevitably must be an individual job. In the school I have had many advices.

Do you feel studying art school influenced your illustrating style?

Not the school. My taste has influenced my style. I absorbed what I liked best.

What type of job did you do right after you graduated?

I worked in a bar to keep up my studies, I continued for a while, at the same time I was illustrating the first books. However, I immediately started to illustrate books for children.

When did you decide you wanted to illustrate for children?

I had dreamed of this profession since I was a child, but growing up I thought it was impossible. A bit like when you think you want to become an astronaut. Then I began to realize that I could really do it.

How did you get the job to illustrate your first picture book, “La Bohème”?

I collected my best illustrations in an online portfolio. Then I did a search for publishers that could be compatible with my style and I sent email with my portfolio. The publishing house was really very small, maybe that’s why he answered me 🙂

Do think “La Bohème” influenced the publisher of Cleopatra: Queen of the Nile into hiring you for Cleopatra?

The first job was fundamental for all that came later. Other publishers have been interested in me seeing how I have dealt with a complete project, because not a few beautiful images are enough to say that you are able to make an illustrated book. For Cleopatra they did not ask me for a specific style, they simply had good expectations about my skills.

How many picture books have you published?

10 illustrated books and about 10 other collections, fiction books, illustrated novels and various other projects.

How many picture books have you illustrated with US publishers?

I’m working right now on my first illustrated book with an American publisher. Maybe it will come out in September. For now in bookstores in the US there are only a few translations of my books exported from Europe.

How long have you been with Shannon Associates and how did the two of you connect?

I’ve been collaborating with them from a year. They had contacted me several years before but I still did not feel ready to entrust myself to an agent. Then last year I contacted them hoping that the proposal was still valid, and here I am.

Are there publishers in Rome that publish your books?

Not in Rome, but scattered throughout Italy.

Is Alice in Wonderland you latest book?

my last book is “Topi ne abbiamo” (Mice we have), published in Italy with DeAgostini. It’s not a real illustrated book but more a novel illustrated with some internal illustrations.

Have you won any awards for your illustrating?

I have been selected for a couple of competitions in which I participated years ago. And I won an illustration contest in 2010 (Tapirulan, in Italy) and it makes me very proud to have received the award from jury president Sergio Toppi.

Do you ever have to turn down work to illustrate a book?

Yes, I have refused a few stories because I did not feel suited to me. I have also refused some proposals not suitable for my processing time, or not paid properly.

Have you done any book covers?

Yes and I admit that I still feel very distressed because it is really difficult to find the best way to represent it. In this case the teamwork between art director / author / illustrator / graphic is very important.

Do you have any desire to write and illustrate your own children’s book?

Yes, it’s a project that I’ve been keeping in the drawer for a long time, but sooner or later I know it will see the light!.

Would you illustrate a book for an author who wants to self-publish?

Why not, if the project is good and the commitment is from the whole team could be done.

Have you worked with educational publishers? Which ones?

I have worked on educational books that teach foreign languages. “Alice in Wonderland” for example is one of these, as well  “The Secret Garden” and “The Three Musketeers”. At the end of each chapter there are training questions (ELI readers, Italy). Lately I have just worked on educational books for elementary school children, but it is still in the process of being published for Pearson Italy.

Have you done any illustrating for children’s magazines? Which ones?

No, this not yet.

What do you think is your biggest success?

I do not know how to answer this question. I always try to improve myself and face new challenging projects. I always try to give my best.

Now that you have an agent, do you spend any of your time promoting your art?

Actually, I believe it is the opposite. Now that I have an agent, I have more work to do and I have less time for promotion and social media.

What is your favorite medium to use?

Traditional technique always. I love paper and pencil, and paint with brushes and tempera colors.

Has that changed over time?

I have always preferred traditional technique. At first I used acrylics, then I rediscovered tempera colors.

Do you have a studio set up in your home?

Yes, a space of my own where to organize everything. Sometimes I miss having no company or colleagues around, but social networks are sometimes a good virtual coffee break with them.

Do you try to spend a specific amount of time working on your craft?

It depends on the period. Unfortunately, the more time passes, the more difficult it is to find the right concentration for personal work. However, even if little, I always try to find it.

Do you take pictures or do any types of research before you start a project?

Very very much. Research is fundamental to me. Relying only on what you know in my opinion is limiting and does not stimulate creativity. If I have to draw a house for example, I look for a thousand photos of a thousand different houses to create something new.

Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

Certainly. The Internet has been fundamental to finding work and letting oneself be found. Even collaborating at a distance between different continents is not a problem. It is also an immense library of data, information, photos and anything that is needed for research.

Do you use Photoshop or Painter with your illustrations?

Only photoshop sometimes, for some very fast and simple projects or for minor tweaks or changes. I use photoshop much more for color tests personal study before painting by hand.

Do you own or have you used a Graphic Drawing Tablet when illustrating?

Yes, I have a bamboo fun from about 8-9 years.


Do you have any career dreams that you want to fulfill?

My greatest aspiration would be to publish for the major publishers of the world with beautiful and stimulating books and stories. I think it’s the dream of all us book illustrators.

What are you working on now?

Now I working for two very different illustrated books. One for a French publisher, it is a very nice and sweet story, of an Italian author. The other book, however, as I said before, is for a US publisher and speaks of the childhood of a historical figure.

Do you have any material type tips you can share with us? Example: Paint or paper that you love – the best place to buy – a new product that you’ve tried – A how to tip, etc.

I only have my favorite paper to paint that I love: Arches 300gr satin. I can’t live without, I think it’s magical.

Any words of wisdom on how to become a successful writer or illustrator?

I believe I say banality, but it is the truth. Talent is not enough, you have to work hard, improve and try many times. If you want to become a book illustrator you have to browse through it, study and grow up. The important thing to understand well is: if there’s a publisher refusal we need to understand where we can improve and not get down. Don’t give up!

Thank you Daniela for sharing your talent, process, and expertise with us. Make sure you share you future successes with us. To see more of Daniela’s work, you can visit her at her website:

If you have a minute, please leave a comment for Daniela. I am sure she’d love to hear from you and I enjoy reading them, too. Thanks!

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Wow! God made you talented Daniela. Your work is one of a kind. Cool😊 thanks for sharing❤il visit your blogsite


  2. Love it! God made you talented Daniela. Your work is unique! Cool artwork. One of a kind!😊Thanks for sharing ❤


  3. Daniela, your work is so interesting. I really enjoyed seeing it!


  4. I love the character’s hair in the illo of the two climbing the tall tower! The illustrator for my debut pb (not out until Spring 2019) is from Italy!


    • Wendy,

      Congratulations! email me and tell me about your book. What is the title? How did it happen? I’ll put you in one of my kudos posts.



  5. amazing work. such beautiful illustrations. I’m inspired to try more traditional techniques now. I think I was under the impression that everything had to be done digitally now. Thank you so much for sharing.


  6. Daniela, this was SO enjoyable! I loved every image—a feast of color, life and characterization 🙂 Thank you for sharing (and, as always, for all your hard work putting it together, Kathy 😀 )


  7. Just beautiful! I love the color palettes and compositions. They are magical!


  8. Hello Daniela, I love your illustrations. I would love to learn more about your technique. Are you planning to go to Bologna at the childen’s book fair? Thank you very much, Kathy!


  9. Really lovely work, Daniela. Gosh, you are so talented.


  10. Lovely work!


  11. What incredible talent! Not only did I enjoy just looking at them…I could feel the movement of the characters. The pictures actually come alive. Wow.

    On Sat, Feb 3, 2018 at 12:05 AM, Writing and Illustrating wrote:

    > Kathy Temean posted: ” DANIELA VOLPARI Daniela Volpari is a freelance > illustrator currently living in Rome, Italy. She graduated from the > International School of Comics in Rome. She mainly uses traditional > techniques in her illustrations. Daniela has participated in s” >


  12. Beautiful work – a treat to see.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: