Tuesday, May 31, 2016

 

Fae Visions: Interview with Tostoini


The wonderful folks at The Future Fire, a literary resource that has long been one of my favourite places on the web for reviews, have put together a fascinating anthology called Fae Visions of the Mediterranean, a collection of stories and poems themed around the Mediterranean Sea. It's a great core theme for fiction and verse and I am delighted to be a part of this project. As part of the promotion for the book, a series of interviews has been conducted with various contributors to the book. I was fortunate enough to interview the artist responsible for the excellent cover.

Tostoini is someone I knew nothing about before I conducted the interview. In some ways this is a hindrance to creating an interview and in other ways it might be an advantage. Anyway, with little more ado, here are the questions and answers. Take it away Tostoini!

Tell me a little about how important art is to your life?

It is very important to me, both as a producer that as an “end user” of art. I’m an avid consumer of good stories in every form and shape. This may sound like a trite stereotype, but I wanted to be an illustrator even when I didn’t know that’s how we call this job. For a number of years I wasn’t able to find time and energy to spare for my interest in art, and this made me bitter and angry. I was lucky enough to be able to make a complete change and now art is a big part of my daily life and work. We can say that it’s in the best interest of society if I make a living with my illustrations: I’m a more likable member of the human society this way!

Are there any artists who have directly inspired you? For this work in particular or in general?

Generally speaking, I have a couple of artist that had a big influence on me, Hayao Miyazaki and Edward Gorey just to name a few. I’m a big fan of Tom Gauld, Kate Beaton and Gemma Correll. Speaking of this specific cover, when I started working I wanted to capture the feel of Fae Visions, the idea of a Mediterranean art that’s not just classical art, all marble and Corinthian pillars. There’s a common culture, a lot of influences back and forth the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. I did a bit of research on motifs from the art and crafts, like the abstract pattern of Moroccan mosaics and the figures on the ancient black and red Greek vases. We also wanted to convey the mystery of the sea, the fact that despite years of explorations we still know very little on it, and that even a small sea like the Mediterranean Sea can be as huge and hostile as the ocean, as we are tragically aware in this days.

Why images rather than words or music?

I think that’s simply because I have fun drawing. And I love all the drawing paraphernalia, I can hoard all kind of papers and colours and pens and brushes and still try to persuade myself I need every single one of them for work. Also, I can’t carry a tune to save my life, so music is out of the question.

You say that you were bitter and angry. If you were shipwrecked on an island and could only take along one flavour and one emotion, what would they be?

This is a very bizarre island. I’ll take with me umami and surprise, so I could still be able to season my food and enjoy the experience.

What does the Mediterranean mean to you, if anything?

It is home. As simple as that. I was born and raised near a port city in Sardinia. I take that sea for granted for most of my life. Then I moved away and I discovered homesickness. Now as soon as the sun start to shine in the spring I start to have a longing for the sea and I start drawing starfishes, whales, manatees, fishes, seaweeds...

What is your favourite element in the periodic table?

I have a soft spot for element 117, currently referred to as “Ununseptium”, because that’s the one that maybe is going to be labelled as Octarine. (Please International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry, humour us).

Coffee or wine?

What, I’m stranded on that bizarre island again? What’s the problem with the islanders, why the urge to give up some food every time? I will keep them both, thank you.

I am sometimes incompetent. What things are you sometimes?

Absent-minded. And clumsy. Sometime both absent-minded and clumsy in the same moment. Yes, I can see the pattern.

Are there any projects you are currently working on that you would like to talk about?

I’m currently working on “Bestiarium”, a kids’ app for Art Stories, an Italian digital publisher that develop educational apps for children on art, history and heritage. It’s going to be an app on animals in ancient art and history, we are currently in the research stage and it’s so much fun. There are a lot of amazing mythological creatures around the world, so many stories and ideas. At the moment we are working on Maya civilization, Ancient Egypt and Roman Empire, to name a few. It’s going to be to be released in the fall, so I will start drawing and sketching in a few days.

You have to become a mythical creature for the remainder of your life. Which one would you choose?

I’d love to be Gamera. Or Morla from the Neverending Stories (or the Great A’Tuin, just to quote Terry Pratchett again). I thing I could be an amazing giant turtle, I have the personality for the role.

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