A conversation with Daniela Sanziani
Interview | Alessandro Calabrese
Visionar agency is a novelty in the Italian illustration scenario. Can you tell us who you are and which are the innovative features that lead your vision?
Visionar was founded in Milan in March 2016 to represent visual artists. Following the example of what has happened abroad for years, we decided to focus our roster on figurative arts (ranging from illustration to calligraphy, from infographics to animation) as Italy lacks something similar. In fact many management agency rosters includes photographers, director, stylists. According to us this diversification can be misleading as we believe that artists need to feel part of a group that shares the same language and that gives birth to new ideas and collaborations. Our job consists mainly in the management and promotion of our artists, by acting as an intermediary between them and the clients. This activity brings advantages to both sides: the artists can concentrate on the mere creative part of their job, leaving to us the bureaucratic aspects like quotations, invoice, contracts review); whereas the clients can now have an interlocutor to enquire about the project development and be reassured that it is being carried out in compliance with the brief, the deadline and the budget. We also advise clients on the most suitable artist for their project and the follow him/it from the brief to the delivery of the final files.
Where did your take your inspiration from and what is your background?
We come both from the publishing world. Stefano worked as a design consultant at Sole24ore and as art director at Zero Milano. In my case, I have just quitted my job at Wired Italia as graphic designer and Illustrator where I had been working since 2008. Therefore both of us had the chance to get in touch with plenty of Italian and international artists, who started their careers thanks to the works published on these magazines.
Thank to these experiences, we realized what being “on the other side” means and that Italy required something like this. And it is becoming more and more necessary for the artists, considering also the high demand of projects they are receiving from abroad. We took inspiration not just from one agency, but from different ones, especially English and US, but we customised our formula to satisfy both the artists’ and the clients’ needs
Can you give some examples of the illustrators you represent?
Up to date, we account for seven illustrators and a calligrapher (alphabetically ordered): Gabriele Cecere, Johnny Cobalto, Marcello Crescenzi, Alessandro Cripsta, Elsa Jenna, Mila Leva, Gloria Pizzilli e Marco Goran Romano. We are considering to widen our roster by the end of the year, with new disciplines like animation.
All of them have different characteristics. What are the criteria to choose the illustrator that constitute your team?
As we are at the beginning of this project, we chose to have as many different styles as possible, focussing on the individual’s qualities. As our roster had to start from scratch, we preferred to involve artists we had already worked with and we knew for their seriousness and professionalism in development of a projects. For our agency meeting the deadline and respecting clients is a must, apart from the artists’ creative skills. Delayed delivery or non-compliant works can determine the artists’ eligibility to join our team.
At creative level we like discovering the artists’ originality and unexplored styles. In my own point of view, I have no favourite techniques, I like both the vector graphics and watercolour, what matters to me is how freshly and originally they are used.
Who are the main clients requested by your authors? What are the most requested projects?
At the moment, the majority of the works refer to the publishing world, especially the Anglo-Saxon, still the leader in this sector. We are also working on branding and advertising projects but the publishing industry is still the strongest.
It is understood that the scenario of the Italian Illustration design has burst out in the last few years. According to you, what are the reasons for this rapid growth of our authors?
I would say that the publishing world in general and magazines in specific gave a great boost. As a matter of fact, Italy had privileged photography over illustration for quite a long time. I believe that we started to feel again the need to Illustrate certain concepts (perhaps abstract) thanks to projects of international appeal, like Wired Italia. Besides other magazines like IL magazine, with its notable infographics and Internazionale with his authorial covers were a good training for many Italian artists, nowadays also known at international level.Finally, recently the increasing numbers of festivals and meetings on Illustration helped to catch the attention and raise the interest into this world.
Thanks to the new media information can reach the other side of the world very quickly , how can these tools influence the style of an author?
If an author is attentive can have the chance to get in contact with many ideas and inspirations to improve his style or experience new trends, thanks not only to the speed but also to the great amount of materials he can reach.
However, social networks are even more a very useful to learn new and better ways of promoting onself and also, through other famous artists, meet art directors, who always look for original and emerging artists for their projects.
Are there still “schools” connected to a local context, or is it more likely to find different style trends which involve authors coming from different countries?
My impression is that, In Italy above all, the local context is privileged and that our school is much more traditional compared to the what foreign authors do. The Italian authors who broke up with tradition and accepted the contamination from their international counterpart, are the ones who managed to have success also abroad. Tradition should act as a window, that sometimes we open to refresh the environment.
Now that the publishing world seems to be struggling to raise again from its impasse, do you envisage other paths a contemporary illustrator can follow?
I would advise authors to widen their skills and experimenting rather than concentrating on specific sectors. I have the impression that too many artists restrict themselves to the printing world. And yet, animations, gif and videos are the most widespread formats on the net and more and more clients ask for projects where motion is contemplated. In my opinion, this is exactly what an illustrator should take into consideration, otherwise he will be excluded this booming market compared to the one of the publishing houses. We also have to consider that, in the view of self promotion, animations catch more attention than static images.