Francesco de Manincor is an Italian graphic artist who lives and works in London. Francesco creates artwork in a variety of ways, from character design to storyboarding, from illustration to animation. His characters are unique and colourful, and you can easily spot the great influence that comes from the comic world. You can also find street and popular art in Francesco’s work. Some of my favourite pieces, which are both ironic and critical with the society we live in, are in the series called ‘Circus’, in which animals rebel against humans in humorous and weirdly reversed interactions.
Lucía Vázquez Bonome: When did you first discover your passion for art and drawing?
Francesco de Manincor: It’s not something I’ve ever consciously stopped to think about… I was drawing before learning to read or write: I started drawing on the floor and walls of my bedroom when I was 3 or 4 years old: drawings of houses, people, tepees, horses, native Americans and cowboys… with lots of coloured pencils and crayons. My parents were very encouraging but at some point they hung large rolls of white paper all around the walls of my room!
Drawing, painting and all forms of art-making is just something beautiful to do, among the best possible activities that human beings can undertake, in my opinion. I believe everybody can get better at it if they want to and practice a lot, but it’s great when it comes naturally and we start creating without even thinking about it. But then, honing the practice is fundamental.
LVB: What are your main sources when you draw or design?
FdM: Oh, again I don’t want to be too self-conscious about it, it’s better to work more on instinct, but if I stopped to think… I was an avid reader of comics as a child and then a teenager — in fact I was creating comics for a while back in Italy — then graffiti and street art are a great source of joy and inspiration — and I had a go at graffiti in my early 20s — I also love the work of great artists like Tiziano (Titian), Caravaggio, Michelangelo, Modigliani, Van Gogh, Matisse, the expressionists and many more… I like great, clean graphic and product design, and of course movies, architecture, animation, quirky music videos, designer toys… But when I draw I don’t think about other artwork; I guess my life background, places and colours play a part but it all comes from our imagination, from that internal sparkle.
LVB: You work with animation, illustration, graphic design. Do you prefer any of these forms over any other? If so, which and why?
FdM: I definitely love drawing, on paper and digitally, and creating characters, probably more the stylised ones than realistic, human shapes. I love animation, particularly 2D, because it’s a form of storytelling and it uses so many layers to tell the story: plot, sub-plots, characters and environments, colour palettes, sounds and dialogues… Illustration for me has replaced painting as THE art form of the century, because contemporary art is often too cryptic and conceptual, or high-market and elitist. Illustration is visual communication to captivate the viewer, as well as personal vision and a bit of magic, and it can take so many forms and styles, there are no limitations.
But really I have no preference between illustration, animation or anything in between, because it’s all about telling a story in a visual way, and I react to the input that I am given to hopefully visualise something in an original, appealing way. For instance, I love storyboarding because you try to visualise a script or a scene, not just in terms of camera angles or action within the frame, but you try to visualise it in the best possible way for that specific story: direct or subtle, thinking in cinematographic terms, trying to make it emotional and attention-grabbing. It’s visualising in 2D space (the frame, the paper or the screen) action that happens over time in a 3-dimensional space. Exciting!
LVB: Where does the inspiration for your projects come from?
FdM: For my own projects… I’m not too sure, I like to draw stylised, cartoony characters, because you try to find the essence of a character in simple forms, with just a few lines. Illustration is not about realism, it’s about the interpretation of a theme, a subject, a brief through the personal vision and style of the artist, as if a unique filter was applied. I guess where I come from (Venice), and all the art that is such an important presence in this magical, special city, plays a part in what I like, but at the other end of the spectrum I love urban art, the sharp, strong, stylised lines of spray-can art… But I’m also fascinated by elements and tools that belong to the music sphere: record players, loudspeakers, music instruments both traditional and electronic. I don’t know, I don’t want to think too much, probably it comes from within, with all the things and the art and the music that I like added to the mix like in a giant food mixer made for mixing shapes, colours, designs, musical notes rather than fruit and veggies. The brain like a food mixer… I will make an illustration of that…
LVB: Would you say music has a big influence on your work?
FdM: Absolutely, music plays a fundamental part in my life, not just in my creative work. It’s a big source of inspiration because it touches us deep inside, stimulating and releasing emotions. And as I said I’m instantly attracted to music-related forms and tools. The advancements of electronic music tools in the last few years is just amazing, and I actually enjoy playing with beats and sounds, for fun and to experiment with a different creative form. In truth as much as I love visual art forms I think that music is even more magical because it stimulates our brain in an aural way, in a dimension without defined volumes, shapes or colours, rather than via our main sense which is obviously our sight and that can act as a filter: as much as viewing art is a pleasure, images can trick us and even our own brain can trick us with what we see, manipulating our perception and thought processes. Music… well, it stimulates us in a different way. It’s a complex topic, I’d like to have more time to explore it in depth. But yes, music influences me visually, in terms of inspiration, in the stories I write, and I enjoy massively to make my own, even if it’s just for a bit of fun.
LVB: Are you interested in participating in just certain kind of projects? If so, which ones?
FdM: Loving character design, animation and music I’d like to work more on the imaginary worlds I create for my characters, and I also like illustrated books for children, I have a couple of cheeky characters that would be great for that, in fact I’ve written and I’m refining a story, let’s see what happens. But generally I’m happy to work on projects where I can apply my vision and if we can also grow on a personal level, through the interaction with other people, and get better at what we do then great…! Obviously it doesn’t always happen with a client’s work, when there are business or corporate considerations, but that’s how it is and it’s fine. But yeah, I’d like to have a go at creating content for children’s programmes. I think it’s a great audience, open and imaginative.
LVB: Do you think people go less to art galleries and exhibitions and prefer to see art online nowadays?
FdM: I don’t think so, even if we use digital, interactive tools a lot, I think people still like, need and enjoy the direct experience of feeling, walking through, smelling real environments like art places, music venues, big cinema screens… Touch-screen devices add another dimension which is very interesting and stimulating although we’re bombarded by too much information. One problem is when we consume snippets of various info that numbs us and dumbs us down. It’s not easy to keep a balance, screens are addictive… But no, people still love to go to galleries, although I’m puzzled when I see someone walking around a museum taking quick snaps on their phone or digital camera, moving on quickly instead of observing and experiencing the art on display. I wish they slowed down, stopped and really observed. It would make their experience more enriching. I guess it’s a trait of consumerism. But on the other hand it’s great to have online communities of creative people, like Behance, Vimeo or some Tumblr blogs, where we can see the work of so many visual artists, motion designers, illustrators from every continent. So many styles and great artwork, it’s such a positive to see what other creatives are doing, it’s one of the big pluses of the digital age.
LVB: You come from Italy and you live in London now, do you see many artistic differences between one country and the other?
FdM: I’m afraid I’ve lived here for too long, I’m not up-to-date with the artistic output from Italy in terms of fine arts! I see good work coming from Italian designers, but I see it also from Brazilian illustrators, North American motion artists, Japanese animators… A marked difference that I noticed between Italy and England is the way the artistic heritage is managed: I have to say I’m quite critical of Italy, I think as a whole the country is managed poorly, living or even merely surviving on the glories of the past — and there is so much art in Italy — and often it’s not managed or valorised well, while over here art institutions seem to be able to make the most of what they have. Maybe it’s just an impression, but that’s my perception. Then you’ve also got important contemporary institutions in Italy like the Venice Biennale, I visit every edition and it’s very stimulating, so much to see and of course it’s art from all over the world. That event is very well organised. But in terms of art production I’m not sure, I think one aspect of globalisation, applied to the arts, is that regional characteristics and aesthetics blur and mix with inputs from all over, so it becomes more about the style and sensibility of the individual artist, their vision and interpretation, rather than a local or national aesthetic.
LVB: In your opinion does London offer the same atmosphere for artist as Paris did at the beginning of the 20th Century?
Difficult to say, I wish I could go back in time and compare! Paris must have been a powerful magnet for the arts, look at how many incredible artists have worked and lived there between 150 and 100 years ago. London has certainly been able to reinvent herself quite a few times over the decades and it’s an incredibly dynamic place, and fast paced too. It’s one of the truly multicultural cities of the modern world, more than any other European city. But I think the atmosphere is probably very different from Paris at the beginning of the previous century. It has to be: the arts, communication and the media were very different. Maybe it’s a case of rose-tinted spectacles, but the impression is of Paris more bohemian, London more cosmopolitan and connected.
LVB: Are you planning to do anything similar to ‘Circus’ in the future?
Ah, who knows… I like to work with a set of characters over and over again if they have a life of their own, and I have a few of my own characters that I’m fonder of, but then also we naturally change and evolve, become interested in different themes… I think it’s a normal process, we never stop to create, learn, and we see with the same eyes but in different ways that we used to in the past. It’s good to look forward.
LVB: Thank you, Francesco.
You can see Francesco’s work on his website: http://demanincor.tv/
Lucia Vázquez Bonome
Lucia Vázquez Bonome lives and works in London. She holds a degree in Advertising and an MA in Creative Advertising, both issued in Spain. She has undertaken two screenwriting courses at Morley College in London. While studying advertising, she discovered her passion for writing which translated into her professional life: since 2014 she has written articles for the website ‘The State of the Arts’ where she write reviews on theatre plays, movies, books, art galleries and interviewa artists belonging to different artistic fields. Her love for storytelling led her to compile a collection of short stories into a children’s book entitled “Un Verano Mágico”(A magical summer) which was published in Spain and has been translated to English.