It didn’t take long for us to absolutely fall in love with the genuine and unconventional aesthetic of illustrator Roberta Zeta’s pieces. The attitude, charm, drama, and humour channeled into her works is always beautifully offset by a calm but none-the-less striking color palette. Roberta’s work is simply electric, and we are so so excited to have gotten the chance to pick her brain- and here are the results:
Tell us a little bit about yourself! Where are you from, and how did you get started as an illustrator?
I was born in northern Italy, in a small town near the mountains, but now I’m living in Helsinki, Finland. I moved here last August and it has been a pretty huge change for me!
I’ve been drawing since I was born, but for some obscure reasons I didn’t choose to pursue that career at first: I took a masters degree in Law instead, despite the fact that I hated it, and then I did a sequence of random jobs, like managing independent concerts on a music club. I was very confused about my future at that time, but during those chaotic years I never quit drawing, neither did people stop asking me to do it. I landed my first illustration job while I was studying and working on totally different fields, I attended classes to refine my skills, and eventually decided to fully pursue this career.
Please describe your work in three words.
Feminine, detailed, emotional.
Are there any particular materials that you are favoring at the moment?
The pencil on paper, above any other, I used to draw a lot with pens and ink also, but I literally love feeling the graphite under my hand. I’m also into watercolours and digital painting.
Can you tell us a bit about why food and drinks are a now staple fixture in much of your most recent work?
And there are more coming =)
I’m not sure, I just wanted my illustrations to be more “real”, so I decided to draw everyday situations I could identify myself with, and felt really attracted by food, for its forms, shapes and colours. I think that’s our most lively and truthful connection with the world.
What artists [of any medium] do you admire, and why?
There are so many it’s very hard to list them all! I can try to name a few, like the Flemish painters; the Italian Renaissance painters, for their elegance, proportions, and vision of the universe; Balthus, for his drawings and sense of colour; Lucien Freud, Francis Bacon, David Hockney… I don’t think I even need to explain why I admire them; Christoph Niemann, because he can do whatever he wants, with anything. David Downtown; because with a single brush stroke can make you feel the fabric, the shape of a gown… but the artists I admire are actually countless.
Are there any particular songs, films or stories that you can list, that you feel have had a significant impact upon you and the art that you produce?
I always used to listen a lot of music, but during the last two years I mostly listened to “Songs of Townes Van Zandt” by Scott Kelly, Steve Von Till and Wino: a terrific songwriting performed with wonderful intensity. I also tend to empathize too much with that melancholic mood, so I often enjoy the silence. Cinema inspires me a lot. I love Fellini. Explaining his art, he used to say that ‘he never knew what he was doing and why he was doing it’. He was so great. As weird as this can sound, I found that sentence really inspirational.
What would you say is the best piece of art and/or life advice that you have ever received?
Someone once told me: “Do what you’re good at”, and considered my previous confused choices, that advice meant a lot.
List five things that fascinate you.
Beauty, animals, nature, human behaviour and fashion.
What would you say has been the highlight of your career so far?
I particularly loved working with Semi Couture, an Italian fashion brand with a strong and poetic personality. They not only inspired my work, they even pushed it forward.
What does your work mean to you, and what do you hope that it will mean to your fans?
My work means everything to me: it is my world, my identity, my life, and perhaps is the only thing I can really do. I just hope people like it.