The feminine figures in Roberta Zeta‘s illustrations are one of a kind. There is a consistently genuine vibe of attitudes and femininity in those detailed pencil lines and broad watercolour brushstrokes. This is the kind of combination we can’t get enough. We reached out to her and discussed the origin of such a unique approach.
Hi Roberta! Please tell us about who you are and what you do.
I was born in a small town in northern Italy, near the mountains. After high school, I took a master degree in Law at the University of Padua. I realized pretty soon that I wasn’t cut out for the lawyer career, and I always kept on drawing and studying illustration.
As much as my parents should look at me as a dazzle creature lost in reality, I was exploring life instead. Back in those years, I got a lot of funny and unexpected jobs that allowed me to survive economically, but moreover, they opened a window onto mankind.
One of my favourite jobs was organizing and managing gigs for independent bands. Concerts were spectacular occasions to see young people from different evironments intersecting with each other, and for me there wasn’t a better way to study faces, bodies, attitudes and details. All the rest of my time I kept drawing what I was watching, and attending higher level illustration courses.
Amazingly, someone thought that my drawings were interesting and started commissioning illustrations. Since then, I have never stopped working.
Last year I moved to Helsinki with my boyfriend and my dog, and I’m enjoying living there.
Could you share some insights into your current illustration style?
I have always loved fashion and feminine figures. Drawing in particular has been my favourite game since I was 3, I guess. I adore spending time shaping small details on faces, hands, hairdos, fabrics. I did it for such a long time. I’m quite fast nowadays, but I also experimented a lot before getting here.
During my college years I used to draw grotesque portraits of senior-year students (a very old and beloved tradition in Padua), which trained me to detect expressions on people’s faces and allowed me to use new perspectives, with total freedom. After that, for some years, I tried not to draw human bodies and just approached the world of children’s books. I had some fun with crows, toads and ladybirds, but eventually one of my teachers made me realize that I was always sketching some female figures and told me to do what was so natural to me. Amusingly, this took me a while.
I would say I found my style by mixing the attitude to draw “precisely” with my need to give it “air”: if I execute a face thoroughly, then I just sketch the rest. Over the years, I refined this technique of juxtaposing detailed and loose artworks.
That’s fantastic! Could you describe your illustrating process?
Every illustration invariably starts with pencil on papers. Inspiration comes from people, movies, pictures, books… As soon as I come up with an idea, I search for subjects among my archive of pictures and old magazines. Because at the beginning, I always need to see the “real thing” in front of me, just like in the old times. In most part of the cases, they’re teen girls. I find teenage years very fascinating. When I draw them, I pay attention to their expressions and attitudes. Differently from what I needed to do during my college years, now I really enjoy describing their emotions in a composed way. This probably reflects a bit of my own transition from adolescence to maturity. When the pencil drawing is finished, I start to think about colors. I literally play with acrylics and watercolors, randomly, until I’m satisfied with the results.
How do you think being featured on Kuvva platform will help you?
I think to be featured on Kuvva will give me the chance of approaching and confronting with new styles. I love to browse the collections, and being part of a community crowded with such amazing artists makes me proud but also challenges me to do my job always better. And did I mention that my skin is sooo much glowing now? : )
And last but not least: do you have any future project in mind?
I’m working on an “italian” project right now, but I can’t say anything else about it. Aside from commissions, I’m always busy on my personal drawings, and doing visual researches for Picame Mag.
Scroll down to see all the awesome artwork Roberta has for licensing on Kuvva!
This blog was first published on Kuvva blog.