MASSIMILIANO DI LAURO
“Drawing is my way of having fun!”
Actually, this was not the first thing Massimiliano told me about his job. We got there after chatting about how tasty is pistachio ice-cream, how cockers are thoughtful dogs, how charming yet chaotic is the city of Rome, how living in a small village is comfortable yet suffocating, and even about how much money we are able to waste every time we step in a bookshop.
We talked so much that we almost forgot why we were talking!
Oh, right…his works.
Massimiliano is an illustrator. It’s his job. But since the very moment he starts talking about it, it’s pretty clear that there is something more than just working.
When it comes to illustrations, Massimiliano starts listing a bounce of artists’ names, describing their artworks, talking about small defiant illustrated publishing firms, while I barely keep up with him, taking notes of all those interesting inputs.
He really knows his stuff, but he is not showing off. He just cannot help himself but talking about all of that.
Curious by nature, Massimiliano needs to learn more, further exploring that world, making new connections and diving deep in what he doesn’t know yet.
He shows me some of the works published during these years, picking them up from the bookshelf, still with the same naivety of a kid who shows his collection of toy cars to a friend to play together.
Since the first book he illustrated (Mi Primer Viaje - Paloma Sanchez Ibarzabal) a lot has changed in his style.
From a smooth and fairy shapes, Massimiliano moved to a stronger vibe, with bright and contrasting colours, characters with big heads and oversized limbs, that look freakish, sometimes grotesque.
In his creative process, he roots out what he is going to illustrate, breaking it down in small details, and then focusing on what he feels like more important or relevant for the beholder.
Meeting Javier Zabala, a Spanish master of illustrations, was one of the most important events in his life.
Few years ago, he invited Zabala to hold a workshop in his city.
“Honestly, I was expected everything but he would have said yes!”.
Nonetheless, he said yes and flew from Madrid to the south of Italy to hold that workshop. It was a life-changing experience for Massimiliano. Zabala was a kind of a mentor and he suggested him to keep a daily sketchbook, and to carry it around wherever he went.
Massimiliano took his word and filled up many drawing journals since then. They are the map of his memories.
He shows some of the latest pages, from his last trip to Volcano island. For a while, I can catch a whiff of that faraway land.
It’s like somebody just opened his secret diary for me.