By Elizabeth Gracen:
Sometimes you just luck out. When I decided to finish my YA fantasy novel that had been sitting on a shelf for a couple of years after I gave birth to my daughter, it was because I had an incredibly vivid dream where my Shalilly came to life in pictures. I woke up the next morning and knew that despite the fact that I hadn't read the manuscript in a couple of years, I was going to self-publish it and have it illustrated just the way I dreamed it.
I logged a brief description of the project on Upwork (it may have been called something else at the time) and started receiving portfolios within hours. They were all nice enough, but nothing matched the dream images in my head. About a week later, I was just about to pick an artist who might do in a pinch when I received a portfolio from an artist with the fabulous name of Luca di Napoli. His art blasted off the screen with wild imagination, vivid colors, and that crazy touch of fantasy I had been waiting for.
Over the years, Luca and I have stayed in touch and collaborated on several ideas—the latest is a children's book series that I'm very excited about and can't wait to share. Luca is the perfect artistic partner who knows how to bring those fantastic images in my head to life, and I feel so incredibly lucky to have him as a friend and collaborator.
Luca is more than just an illustrator, he is a fine artist of the highest caliber, and I want to share his work with you. I just had his whimsical Synchrony piece framed and hung over my piano, and I'm eager to add to the collection.
Please meet my friend, the one and only Luca di Napoli!
EG: I’ve had the great pleasure to work as a collaborator with you for many years now, but there are so many things I don’t know about you. Would you tell our readers a little bit about yourself? LdN: I am Italian from the south, as my family name very well suggests. I moved at 18 to Florence, in Tuscany, where I attended the fine arts school. Since 2005, I've lived in France, where I attended an animation cinema school. I spend my time between Paris and the countryside in a 15th-century house in the west of France. I have a Lebanese husband who is an opera singer and a dog of the Brittany fawn basset breed who is called Pepa like an Almodóvar character.
EG: As a young person, were you encouraged to pursue art? Did you attend art classes in your early years? LdN: The idea of drawing for me has always been there, the fact that I had the predisposition helped people around me to encourage this inclination. Those are the ingredients to make a talent out of a passion. And millions of unvoiced talents out there will never be discovered, quite a waste. Then comes the work that even the most talented people have to put in. Years of trying different techniques, finding a style, having the mind opened to every interesting artist, every fascinating shape, color, stroke that meets your eyes. EG: As an artist, illustrator, and animator, what drives your creativity? How do you get your ideas and how do you approach bringing that idea to life? LdN: Plato thought that the ideas fled up to the sky and that they simply fell in the human head. Sometimes it feels exactly like that. A sudden informed vision that contains the edges of a drawing. Once you have it there the process of execution starts. I usually make a very quick draft just to fix it because those visions have the tendency to want to fly back. Once the draft is there, I can leave it, or if I find it interesting enough I make another more precise drawing. Once it is done, I can start to make the final version. This final stage is more analytical; I choose the color palette, I focus on the details, I work the lines. Trips help a lot.
EG: Let’s take a look at your wonderful website and talk about your work. Talk to me about the “roadmap” of your art. Please talk about particular pieces or series in your portfolio. LdN: I work often around a concept, and I find the series a better way to express different facets of this same concept. The series The 4th War, for instance, came about after reading an Albert Einstein quotation: "I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones." I then imagined the weapons of this 4th war and the effects that the 3rd could have had on people.
The series Gaia is a reflection about what we are doing to nature and what nature will do to us.
Synchrony is about the chaos hidden underneath the harmony.
Love is about the dualism of Eros and Thanatos.
EG: I just had my first Luca di Napoli prints framed! Synchrony is mysterious, funny, and wry. Please tell our readers what they can expect when they purchase something from your site. Tell us what kind of paper is the work printed on and any other specifics they need to know. LdN: You can go to lucadinapoli.net to see my work. I sell every illustration in the form of a high-definition digital print. The prints are numbered and signed, meaning that I will print and sell just a certain amount of them. This is what gives a print its value. I use a fine art paper, quite thick. The result is very similar to a real drawing. The prints cost from 50 dollars up, plus shipping cost, and it depends on the size and number. To order them it is quiet simple, just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
EG: What’s next for you? What projects or ideas do you have planned for 2021? LdN: Right now, I am focusing on painting for an upcoming exposition in Paris. Everything has slowed down for the pandemic, but I will participate in some festivals around the world.