Marta Monelli

photo provided by illustrator


What was your favorite book when you were a child?

I don’t remember the title nor the author, but I had this little book that I really loved when I was little, and I took it everywhere with me. There was a boy that played his favorite ball in it. One day he lost it in the woods so he sets to find it, but when he finally founds it… surprise! It was a rolled up armadillo (who naturally had his back colored as the ball itself) that started to play with him right away.

I tried to leave my own ball between the trees but it never transformed into an armadillo.

But I have always loved stories with animals and animals themselves.

Who are your top three favorite authors or illustrators?

First is Oliver Jeffers: I decided to become an illustrator when I found his first book on sale in a children’s shop in Brighton. In the following years I bought all his books and actually became an illustrator! The other two are two young Italian artists that I think will be something in the future and that I really love: Philip Giordano, who won the prestigious prize “The international award for illustration” from the Bologna Childen’s Book Fair in 2010 and Simone Rea, a very recent rising talent in the illustration world.

And my favorite children’s author is Daniel Handler, alias Lemony Snicket. We always have good people and bad people in children’s books, but in his books nobody is really only good or bad and I really love that everyone, main characters too, can make mistakes. It’s more educational, which is the point of children’s books in the first place.

Why did you want to become an author or illustrator?

I always drew since I was little and I never stopped, but the real choice of career came up a lot later. In the meantime I graduated from college in Psychology.

I still believe I would have never made a fine psychotherapist; drawing feels much more natural.

I love telling tales with images. Sometimes I come up with stories from scratch, but the starting point is always from pictures.

Do you have any advice for future authors or illustrators?

Being an illustrator is rather difficult, especially at the beginning. It’s also usually a bit lonely. Sometimes one just needs to confer with other people, so it’s really important to develop relationships with fellow illustrators. I don’t know the American market really well, but in Italy there are some blogs owned by illustrators. I always advise to follow them, because one can find a lot of useful advice and tips, and most of all support in difficult times. With a group of illustrators I founded WAI (Weekend Artistici Itineranti, or Artistic Travelling Weekends in English). We meet once a month around Italy in different houses and workshops of friends and such. We work together, we confront our works and techniques, we advise each other and we cook a lot of delicious food!