The importance of sharing

Do you have a running buddy? I’m not actually talking about the act of running (which I’ve already talked about here, by the way).

I’m talking about those friends, colleagues, relatives, who are very honest with you and they help you to run your business better.




Coming up with fresh and new ideas isn’t easy; when your job requires churning them out daily, it can be easy to hit a wall. (Not to mention frustrating.)


That’s why I find helpful to do brainstorming sessions with others sometimes.


Thanks to the Internet this can be done easily in any location and with any person that you like.


The best brainstorming sessions are when you come up with bad ideas first.


Word games can be powerful ways to help remove you from the traditional mindset that tends to produce generic, unoriginal ideas.

One great word exercise is creating a “word storm.” To create a word storm, write down one word, and then brainstorm a whole slew of words that come to mind from that first one. Try thinking about the function of that word, its aesthetics, how it’s used, metaphors that can be associated with it, and so on. Let the ideas flow naturally, and don’t over think it — this is meant to be a creative exercise.



I’ve been to a few events here in Dundee where they use this “word storm” exercise. One thing I found very helpful is the use of post-it notes. Everyone is in front of a wall, they write their word on a post-it and then they attach them on the wall.

In this way there is no leader, everyone is part of the brainstorming.

Create a mood board.


A mood board is simply a random collection of images, words, and textures focused on one topic, theme, or idea. Like with mind mapping, the visual components of the mood board can be anything branching off that central topic.

I usually don’t have time to create a proper mood board but I make a folder where I save all my inspirations for that topic.




Yes, doodle! Something I’ve already covered here, remember?  🙂

Doodling helps people to break out from the traditional mindset and think about familiar things in a different way, perhaps leading to unexpected connections.

It can help in brainstorming too.


So, what are the benefits of sharing ideas?


I don’t know about you, but I want to work better. Not only do I want to work better, I want to get better at what I do every day.

Every time I share ideas with others and have a discussion with them I improve.


Who do you do brainstorming with? Is it better than doing it alone? Let me know in the comments box below!

The art of recycling

During my time at my master in Bologna, my friend Irene used to say that I was very good at recycling. She was not wrong and today’s post is about this topic.

I’m not using the word “recycling” in the context of in-house waste management (sorting glass, tin, paper and discarded food in their dedicated bins).

I’m talking about my practice to use and adapt previous ideas for new projects. During my time at the art academy I’ve always tried to reuse some old projects for other exams. These could have been ideas already made but never realized and finalized. Sometimes the time wasn’t enough, other times the requirement for the exams were diverging too much from my initial idea. Nevertheless, I kept them aside for later use.

I didn’t do it for laziness as some of you might think right now. I did because I believed in that idea:


only because it wasn’t right for a project doesn’t mean it couldn’t be right for another one.


In The meaning of doodle I already anticipated that sometime I use my doodle ideas for some illustrations.


For example…



Brexit’s side effect was a rejected sketch from a past commission. When I had another one with a related topic, I adapted the illustration into a new one.



This behaviour of mine is well used during my collaboration with La Stampa, where different doodles that I’ve made are used as starting point for the illustration.



This is very helpful for me because it allows me to save time on finding the right idea, and every minute counts when you have to deliver your final version in about two hours!



Do you recycle too? Do you have other ways to be more time effective? Let me know in the comments box below!


Tools to stay in touch

I’ve never felt properly ready to contact art director with my portfolio.



But at some point I realised that you never do.

There won’t be any moments where you will feel that your portfolio is ready to be shown. At least it has been for me.


When I realised it, I developed a plan to contact art director and introduce myself.

First I decided the right medium. The quickiest and cheapest way was by emails and so I started to write a nice a short email which I could change for every contact on my personal database.


Personalise is the key.


Google is a great tool. If you don’t know the name of the art director, google it and personally address the email to him/her in the email.


Email has become the most important communication tool for our businesses.

Since I started I found two interesting websites which help me to find some email contacts.


Email Hunter

It gives you all the emails associated with a website. It works better for small websites.
Type the URL of a website, get all the associated emails.

→ Use Email Hunter


Talk Walker Alerts

Enter your name, a sentence or a surname and you will get an email every time it appears on the internet.
This is very useful to get notified when someone is talking about you, or to get updates from other people or words you want to follow.

→ Use Talk Walker Alerts


I’m sure there are many others similar website out there. Do you know any of them?  Let me know in the comments box below!


The meaning of doodle

Waiting or listening with a pen in your hand? Probably you’ll start doodling. And what you choose to doodle will reveal a lot about your personality and mood.


We usually doodle when our mind is absent.



Many of us end up drawing the same things. Stars, flowers, boxes and arrows frequently crop up — common symbols of aspirations and feelings.

It turns out that what you draw could tell more about your personality and feelings.

For example, emotional people who want harmony and crave affection tend to use rounded shapes and curved lines. Practical persons tend to use straight lines and squares. Determined people will use corners, zigzags and triangles, while more hesitant types use light, sketchy strokes.1

I often doodle when I’m on the bus, when I’m talking to someone and when I’m sitting in a waiting room.



I’ve noticed that I really like to doodle simple shapes, in specific rhombus but sometimes also faces. I find doodling very relaxing and playful at the same time.

Sometimes is also useful as I use my doodles for my illustrations. I use them for pattern or for ideas. I usually remake and develop them related to the concept of the illustration.



But what they means?



Flowers tend to imply something very personal and can be referring to relationships.

People who doodle flowers are usually sentimental people. They value things like marriage, children, photos, good memories.2



These people are considered to be very clear thinkers. Sometimes they may have separate things in separate places. They have their work mates, their school mates, other mates and they don’t necessarily mix their lives.

They often deal with things and have checklists. They like to be organised.3



Doodling your name or initials is common for those who enjoy being the centre of attention. Teenagers often doodle just their first name or the initial indicating a desire to break away from the family and do their own thing.

Doodling someone else’s name, on the other hand, shows they are in your thoughts.4



Arrows indicate direction and goals. A determined person with a specific goal in mind will draw arrows, subconsciously ‘aiming’ at his or her ‘target’. 5



Faces are very personal. Essentially they are drawing themselves. A happy face means generally a happy person. If you draw angry faces — it doesn’t mean you display anger, but you could be feeling it unconsciously.

As for eyes are pretty similar thing to faces.6



The black and white chequerboard doodle suggests patience and persistence.7



Obviously a romantic doodle. Drawing a heart indicates you’re in love with love.8



Busy, highly-detailed doodles are often drawn by people with an obsessive nature, who simply will not let go of their ambitions or loved ones.9



Drawings of stairs and ladders also often indicate you have an important, long-term task in hand.10



Doodling any form of transport often indicates a desire to escape from a situation.11



This can symbolise a feeling of being trapped or the  desire to entice someone into  a particular relationship or situation.12



Stars are often drawn by ambitious people. Lots of little stars indicate optimism. Neat, uniform stars suggest good mental focus, while freehand, asymmetric stars show an energetic personality.13


1-13 Ruth Rostron, MOTIVATING NEEDS in DOODLES and DRAWINGS, The Graphological Magazine, 24 Winter 2006-7.


Can you recognise yourself in any of these doodles? Let me know in the comments box below!

New year plans

I have always been a planning person but since I met my boyfriend I became even more. This could be a disadvantage sometimes if you need to improvise but luckily it doesn’t happen so often.

I really like have plans and stick with them when it’s possible. At the end of the week I feel more accomplished when I tick everything in my checklist and I already know what I need to do for the following week. I feel very organised.



At the beginning of the new year we always want to be better. We have a lot of good intensions, but we don’t think about the process and how we are going to achieve them.


The result in giving up very soon.


Having a plan help you to break the goals in different steps, which are more achievable. It’s like a long run: you don’t have to think about the whole length of the run. You need to break it in small parts.

Why planning?


When you start to plan you are transforming the intentions into actions. The goals become more and more real.


When I  plan I  ask myself these questions:

  • Why? Think about the reason you want that specific goal. If it’s not strong enough you will probably give up.


  • How? I break into small parts my goal and I think how I can achieve them.


  • When? The plan is made but when will you meet your goal? Put down a deadline for each step you wrote down. In this way you won’t procrastinate.


By sticking to the plan, you will create new habit which will be hard. The important part is to be persistent and keep in mind the reasons you want to achieve that goal.

To make my plans every week I use Evernote.

Evernote is a very useful free app which allow me to create tabs and notes. I can also share my note with other people and they can edit them too.




Ready for the New year? What are your goals? Let me know in the comments box below!

Why side projects are so important

Illustrator colleges, art directors, clients always suggested me to experiment and do personal works. But I’ve never been the person who draw everything whenever she has the time.


I need to have a purpose for everything.


But I have always been a fan of DIY project where I could experiment new techniques too. Throughout the years, I did several side projects such as illustrated lighters, animals scarves, ceramic painting etc…



Lately I realised that experimenting and  personal works doesn’t mean drawing necessarily. You can do whatever you want, you just need to enjoy it and be passionate about it.

Through side projects you improve skills that you can use in your current workplace.



You are not trying to make a career out of it. You are just trying to build skills.


Late last year I made the effort to work on little bit every weekend on  side projects.



There are many reasons for a illustrator to work on a side project. It’s a good way to stay excited about your work, keep your entrepreneurial skills sharp, and most importantly – it’s fun!


An obvious statement, but important: you should be excited to work on your side projects.


If you’re excited to be working on your side project, then you’re only going to be more motivated to finish and show it off.

Work and fun don’t necessarily have to be opposites. Growing up it was always work then play, but as freelancers we’re capable of turning what we love to do into revenue.



For example, making these kind of project I understood I really like pattern. So I’m trying to integrate them in my illustrations when it’s possible.

They also allow me to think outside of the box without focusing on the message or without any worries about what the clients would like.

My last project was my Christmas decoration which I very much enjoyed making. I would like to take this opportunity to whish you a very joyful Christmas. See you in the New Year with a new post!



Are you working on a side project? How you keep inspired yourself? Let me know in the comments box below!

The role of memories in my work

Looking at the past, most of my projects and dissertations have been about memories. One of these projects has been already covered here.


But what is one of the most common ways that we use to store all our memories? As photographs.



I‘ve always been fascinated about our memory and how it works.


Let’s try to remember a holiday. Perhaps a BBQ or picnic with some friends. Obviously we can imagine the situation: a group of people around the grill in a park.


Let’s try to “fix” this scene and print it as a photograph. Can you remember exactly what your friends were wearing? What kind of trees there were in the park? Probably not. If you are able you probably remember some pieces of information but not really a very precise scene like it would be in a photograph.


Why is that? Because our brain has re-built a similar situation but not exactly the same.




Memory is like a big folder where you can save all your good and bad moments. But if you talk with different people who shared the same memory they will tell the same episode in different ways because they would recall it from their personal point of view.


During the years I found useful to bring my memories into my works.


But how?


I started to collect some of my family pictures and when I needed to look up to some references for some drawing, I would look to them.

Sometime I would find something, which inspire me. But this is not always the case.



My approach takes inspiration from Gerhard Richter, an artist from Germany.

One of his works consisted on collecting different photographs. Then he created the Atlas, a volume of 5000 images from around the world. These photographs are all from different sources, such as magazine, family pictures, sketches, painting landscape etc.. He created his own memory of the world.

He also used some photographs as a base for his paintings.


When I don’t find anything I look at different websites that provide some raw material, such as:


Have you ever use memories in a similar way? Do you have other websites to share? Let me know in the comments box below!


Collage for brainstorming

Brainstorming is a great way to begin thinking about an assignment. By writing ideas down on a page you can see what you remember about a given subject and draw connections between different concepts. You can write freely and make as messy as you like.


Finding the idea is usually the hardest part of every assignments for me, because I have to find the balance between not making it too abstract or  too obvious at the same time.


Therefore I usually start to do brainstorming as soon as possible because developing ideas can sometimes be a time-consuming process.

Diagrams and charts are great ways to not only write down what you know, but to visually make connections between important points. However these aren’t the only way.

When I have some free time I try to use collage for brainstorming.


Why collage?


There is a very strong connection between collage and storytelling. Throughout the long and varied history of collage art, one  concept has remained:


Fragments become a new whole with a new and bold meaning.


Storytelling, in the same way, takes fragmented events and creates  new and greater entity: the story.

When I use the collage I like to play with the image without thinking to much about the concept. When I think I have finished the different compositions I take a step back and pay attention to what I like of it.




In this collage I liked that the two images are linked and divided at the same time by an imaginary line. It’s like one part has slipped and trying to catch up with the other.

This idea worked very well with the  Legless Edbur  illustration. A guy who lost his legs but in the end, you will discover he didn’t lost his legs but something else….

I didn’t know the idea would work well for that assignment before but I  saved it either way on my sketchbook, or how I like to call it “doodlebook”. Then I waited for the right article to use it.

An other example is the one I did for Transform magazine. Here I liked the repetition of the ladies which you can see in both collage composition and illustration.

As you can see the inspiration from the collage could be literally the same illustration or just a small detail of it.  But it helps to think out of the box by keeping the concept of the article very clear in mind.

Do you have different ways to look for ideas? Let me know in the comments box below!

Inspirational listening

Grab your headphones, get your coffee and plug into inspiring podcasts.


Have you ever listen to a podcast? What about an illustration podcast?


Why  listen to a podcast?


I like having a podcast playing in the background while I work; I find it to be informative and relaxing.  Sometimes I don’t even listen so much but it makes you feel  less lonely when you sketch at home.


Because no illustrator is an island – Thomas James


Other times it helps to improve my  listening skills too.


I love podcasts because they boost creativity  and let you learn while multitasking.


They represent a simple solution for learning and inspiring while you are submersed on a busy schedule. That’s what podcasts offer.

One of the first podcast I listened was Escape Illustration Island  by Thomas James. I don’t even remember how I found it out but I loved it. I started from the beginning and, as you will see, there are tones of episodes!

My favourites ones are  with other illustrators or art directors, especially when they confess some fears   about our jobs.


It’s all about sharing.

With this podcast I had a chance to know new illustrators and artists who I might not have meet. I love their work and it is inspirational for me.

My experience…


I took part to two podcast too. If you are interested you can listen to one of them by Ryan McLeod, Creative Chit Chat. Here I talked about the process to built up my illustrator career and about my participation to the DCA Thomson exhibition in Dundee. This was also covered in my first post. Do you remember?


Do you have a favourite illustration podcast? Let me know in the comments box below!

Meaning of shapes

How do you feel when you see a circle? A square? A triangle?


Shapes have a lot of characteristics, each communicating different messages to your audience.


In most of my illustrations I use basic shapes because I feel they are simple and strong at the same time.


What are the different types of shapes?


There are 3 basic types of shapes:

  • Geometric shapes are the most known shapes. Circles, squares, triangles, diamonds are geometric and regular. This regularity suggests organization, efficiency and structure.
  • Natural/Organic shapes are irregular. They have more curves and for this reason they tend to be pleasing and comforting.  They are asymmetrical and transmit feelings of spontaneity, they add interest and reinforce themes.
  • Abstract shapes have a recognizable form, but they are not real. They are stylized or simplified versions of organic shapes.  Icons, for example, are abstract shapes to represent ideas and concepts.


As you might have noticed the shape I prefer is the circle. I love they can transmit this sense of hospitality for who is inside but, at the same time, they can transmit the opposite if you are outside.


What are their different meanings?


Circles have no beginning or end.  They suggest completeness.

They are graceful and their curves are seen as feminine. Their movement suggests energy while their completeness suggests the infinite.

They protect and restrict at the same time: they offer safety.

Squares and rectangles are stable. They’re familiar and trusted shapes and suggest honesty. They have right angles and represent order, mathematics, rationality, and formality.

Triangles can be stable when sitting on their base or unstable when not. They represent dynamic tension, action, and aggression. Triangles have energy and power and their stable/unstable dynamic can suggest either conflict or steady strength.

Spirals are expressions of creativity.  Spirals move in either directions and represent returning to the same point on life’s journey.

In my “Project” (below) illustration I built the two characters around a single shapes, the heart. You might notice it (or not) but the message is transmitted also thanks to this simple shape.



Why do I use simple shapes?


I use simple shapes for my illustrations because they enable me to set a limit and push through it. It allows me to stylised my characters and be more relaxed with proportions or the “anatomy rules”.

Absurdly I feel freer and I enjoy more putting shapes limits because otherwise I would put too much attention on drawing the “right” proportions and anatomy. 


What shapes do you prefer?  Please, let me know in the comments!