Red Nose takes on Milano
I have never considered myself having the chops for teaching. Over the years I have done a lecture or a talk or a 3 hour workshop here and there, but that has always been the extent of my ability. Last year the fine folks at MiMaster asked if I would consider leading a week long workshop at their facility In Milan, Italy. The MiMaster is a project of a group of Italian illustrators, to extend an idea of international specialization in the illustration’s culture. It’s a project focused to professionals, especially in editorial illustration, with interest in meetings with other international illustrators and authors.
Some of the guests of recent include Roberto Innocenti, Steven Guarnaccia, Brad Holland, Natalie Ascencios, Serge Bloch, François Roca, Thomas Ehretsmann, Olga & Andrej Dugin, Lorenzo Mattotti, Danny Fingeroth, and Nicholas Blechman, just to name a few… let alone the fact that my workshop was directly on the tail of a week long workshop by the one and only Anita Kuntz!!
here is Anita spinning on the bull in the Galleria.
Although it was clear to me that I was out of my league I decided to take a chance, give it a go, and maybe talk my wife into a jaunt to Milan, which would be a first for the both of us.
I would be remiss if I didn’t post a couple photos from the infamous Duomo. Minus the tourists, it is a time machine.
a 5 inch detail hidden in a corner…
One thing I didn’t want to do was lead a workshop based strictly on my process, firstly it is god-awfully complicated and secondly I know there are better ways of doing what I do and for me to tell them this is the way to do something would be a disaster.
So I concocted a project that would touch on all of the aspects of what I deal with daily, while creating the images I make.
Students were instructed to amass at least a shoebox full of found objects prior to the workshop along with a list of materials ranging from paints, glues, wire and a chunk of wood.
The goal of the workshop was to assemble an object (i.e fighter, skeleton, pear, bull etc) with the found objects the students had collected. Once assembled the object, when rotated 90 degrees, had to reveal the letterform of the first letter in the name of the object. To add one more layer of difficulty to the project, it wasn’t the sculpture/assemblage that was used in the end but the shadow of the sculpture/assemblage was what had to read as the object and letterform.
The first day was focused on one exercise that I had seen practiced by the great illustrator Bill Mayer. He calls it Stay Sharp. Where you take an ordinary object and draw sketches integrating the object. I humbly asked Mr Mayer if I could use his exercise to kick off the workshop, he kindly agreed and it was a hit. It was a perfect way to get the students to start to think with found objects and see how the object can be seen in different ways and imply different concepts.
The rest of the workshop was me doing my best to share with each student that the sculpture/assemblage they were slaving over was not going to be the final, but that it was all about how the shadow looked and how the letterform would be revealed.
Needing found object material for my demonstration, my patient and understanding wife accompanied me for an evening stroll around Turro while I scavenged for junk in the back alleys.
This was the bounty.
Based on the junk, the word I picked was Libulella which is Italian for Dragonfly.
The students were forced to constantly stop and test how their piece was working with the shadow, showing them that revision and flexibility is crucial to creating images.
This reinforced that no matter what the technique, the end result (with illustration) was how the image would look and work in context. especially with 3D illustration, it is not about how the sculpture looks in front of you but how it looks to the camera, in the photo and especially in the final layout.
Here are a few of the final animations from the students.
I was able to visit a few illustrators that I have known of their work but never had a chance to meet in person.
This is Marco Ventura on the left along with Elena and Anna Balbusso, in the Balbusso twin’s sweet little studio. It was an evening filed with shop talk, tales of growth, good snacks, drink and skilled translation by Marco.
We also had a chance to meet with Alessandro Gottardo AKA Shout for a delightful dinner, including an amazing artichoke heart dish that he is surely to be famous for.
I was honored to be introduced to a pioneering 3D illustrator by the name of Libero Gozzini. Here he is with a figure from a 3D illustration he did in 1973!!
We also had a chance to have dinner, conversation and an evening drive with Emiliano Ponzi. His navigational skills are unique.
The good folks at MiMaster were kind enough to arrange a visit to Teatro Laboratorio Mangiafuoco a puppet studio that has been run by Paola Bassani for over 30years. Paola graciously shared her vast array of puppets, she dug out crates from every nook in her studio. I was overwhelmed and practically brought to tears by her passion and breadth of work.
I had one puppet that I had brought with me to share with her.. It is not often that I feel a kinship with another maker of objects, but this visit was amazing. One of her students broke out an accordion to top off the evening.
To Giacomo for making us feel right at home in the big city.
To Piera for all of her graceful translations.
To Stefan for taking care of all things I.T. including camera, lights and tools.
Especially to Ivan for trusting me enough to invite me to lead the workshop.
I look forward to hopefully getting a chance to return to Milano down the road…