This post is also available in: Italiano
Our friends at Ello are back with their annual Push for Change campaign for Women’s History Month! This year, we want to highlight some amazing artists and community leaders creating work and leading dialogues around the topics of gender equality.
Without further ado, we’d like to introduce the first Curators/featured artists for Push for Change 2021, Italian illustrator Michela Negri!
Tell us a bit about yourself!
Hi everyone! My name is Michela, aka @meriodoc, and I’m a freelance illustrator. I live in Italy, and I like talking about sexuality through my work.I also love vintage and I like collecting pipes.
How did you get started in your creative field?
I studied at IED University in Milan where I graduated with an honours in Illustration. Thanks to my school, myself and other students have [been able to] collaborate together on an illustrated book, “Racconti di Amicizia” by Italian author, Elena Sforza (published by Mondadori). I’ve also started participating in Contests and workshops, and this [has] helped me both in my career and in my creative process; they’re kind of a gym for you, to grow and get known.
Tell us about your creative process.
My creative process is kind of “Shining”. I’ll read something that sparks curiosity in me, or that makes me angry, and I’ll take my iPad and start drawing. Sometimes I’ll take a piece of paper and write down ideas, so I don’t forget them. If I have to create a complex illustration (usually ones for children, or something with much more of a scientific angle – such as sexual health), I’ll do my research by reading articles and books. I’m always inspired by something that I’ve read, whether that be on IG, the Internet or from books that I’ve bought – but sometimes I’ll just let my emotions influence my process
What inspires your artwork around sexuality, womanhood, and gender equality?
The injustice and discrimination that I see everyday: on socials, on the TV, in real life, and in my own personal experiences. I often hear from people my age who have a distorted vision of life – they still believe in taboos around periods and sex.
What does equality mean to you?
Equality is a great power; it’s something that merges all human beings, and puts us all on the same label – despite our gender identity, sexual orientation or the color of our skin etc. First and foremost, we are people. And that’s enough.
What are some obstacles you have had to overcome in the course of your creative career?
There are a lot of obstacles if you want to start a creative career, especially in Italy. If you want to be an illustrator, you have to work hard and submit a lot of CVs; you’ll get ignored and face a lot of rejections, but never give up! Being an illustrator is also very complicated when you are ‘negotiating’ with clients; a lot of people try to get discounts, don’t pay you after you’ve worked for them, or don’t credit your work – I’ve had some bad experiences! And if you want to create a project of your own, such as a magazine about illustrations, you’ll encounter a lot of bureaucratic problems and walls.
Advice you would give to up and coming creatives who are looking up to you.
Keep being creative and positive; you may have setbacks, but it’s all part of the process too. Always remember to make anyone you’re collaborating with sign a little agreement document about the use of your illustrations; they’re buying the use of your image, not the image itself. Try to protect your work, but most importantly, keep believing in yourself! Make a list of all your dream clients to work with and send your Portfolio to all of them!
How are you sharpening your skills while in lockdown?
In the first lockdown I restarted drawing in traditional ways, such as using ink, colour pencils, watercolors and gouache; it helps me to get inspiration and to experiment from new points of view as I’m more in contact with the materials. I’ve also started embroidering – it’s so relaxing and keeps me concentrated and productive.
How has the last year impacted you?
Personally, it was a little bit upsetting. I was struggling and felt quite depressed; but thanks to my family, work, and some little collabs that I did, I was able to overcome my negative mindset.
Tell us about your favorite project you’ve ever worked on
I loved working on “L’avventura di Zu” ( Zu’s adventure), which was an illustrated book I made for an obstetrician. Zu, the main character, is a ‘Spermatozoon’ who starts his journey to find the Princess Ovina on the land of Female Genitalia, so they can generate life. It’s a kind of scientific fairy tale for children, to explain to them how they were born.
Who/what is inspiring you right now/has inspired you in the past? *
At the moment I feel really inspired by Marloes De Vries, both in her style and attitude to life. I also love Gemma Correll’s humour; she really knows how to capture such delicate subjects, like anxiety and mental health.
Where do you see yourself in 5/10/15/20 years?
I see myself in the same way, sitting in front of my desk, with my iPad, computer or sketchbook – but maybe in my own home, with a dog, and with a lot of work to do!
Want to get to know Michela even better? Well, lucky you! We’re going to be doing a livestream interview with her next week! Register for the Livestream today–it takes place on Tuesday, March 16th at 2:30PM EST! We’ll be celebrating all month long and we can’t wait to see you there.