Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Art Feature: The Fantastic Art of Maurizio Manzieri

Today I have an interview with Maurizio Manzieri, a fantastic artist of all things fantastic. Maurizio is an award-winning freelance illustrator renowned in the field of the fantastic literature. The Art Studio where he dreams up his Universes is a small oasis in the heart of the town of Turin, Italy, near the Alps.

Maurizio's artwork has appeared on the covers of the most prestigious magazines and books of leading Italian and international publishers: Mondadori, La Repubblica, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Asimov’s Science Fiction, Putnam/Berkley, Prime Books, Subterranean Press, and many others.

If you want to know more about the artist, visit his official website at www.manzieri.com. He has also opened a Facebook page, where he posts new images for the fans his digital creations.

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Michael K. Rose: Was there any defining moment when you realized you wanted to be a fantasy/science fiction artist?

Maurizio Manzieri: I was born in Naples, one of the most enchanting cities on Earth, under the shadow of the volcano Vesuvius, exploring the ruins of Pompeii and visiting the islands of Ischia and Capri. My career as a fantastic artist is strictly intertwined to my land and to an avid passion for speculative ideas, enjoyed through any kind of medium, from books to TV series, from movies to comics. It's a distinctive deviation in my chromosomes, imbued with that special air of my places. It says aloud in the back of my head: "You are a fantastic artist!” I couldn't think to be anyone else, without betraying my true self.

MKR: When you are commissioned to create a piece of art, do you prefer to get a lot of details from the client or do you prefer to let your imagination fill in those details?

MM: It depends on the type of assignment. In the case of editorial commissions, I prefer always to read the full story before daring to materialize any sketch on paper. As a rule, it's already the publisher forwarding a copy of the manuscript, or fat synopses, together with the assignment. Take note that the more the story is important to or inspired by a renowned saga, the more fundamental it is to take into account the respect for the fans (you see, I've always been a fan myself). Characters and environments have to be deeply coherent to the text and emotionally linked to the readers.


Pictures from an Expedition by Alex Irvine – Digital – 
(The Magazine of Fantasyand Science Fiction, USA, 
2003 / Spectrum, The Best in Contemporary Fantastic
Art, USA, 2004)
MKR: Do you have a favorite piece?

MM: We artists try always to improve ourselves, so I keep working day after day toward the favorite one. Anyway if I should choose a particular painting, I'd say I'm really fond of a cover I realized for Fantasy & Science Fiction about ten years ago, titled "Pictures from an Expedition" (a novelette by Alex Irvine). My astronaut conquered a full page in Spectrum, The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art, and in the same year I won both the Europe and the Chesley Award with other illustrations.

MKR: Are there any artists who you look to for inspiration? Was there anyone who you sought to imitate when you were first developing as an artist?

MM: It isn't a secret that my idol has always been Michael Whelan. I consider his paintings pure sense-of-wonder! Over the years, I've been enriching my studio library with art books by Michael Parkes, Gil Bruvel, Jim Burns, Bob Eggleton, James Gurney... all of them offering in their body work not only the fruition of a beautiful painting, but also some impalpable essence of beauty, something able to touch the soul of the viewer like a sort of subliminal message, something I've been trying to do, too.

MKR: What has been your proudest achievement as an artist so far?

MM: I'm a self-made artist with a very optimistic vision of life. Talking again about my wish of becoming an artist, one thing is wishing something to happen; another is seeing that wish happening for real. I see myself in the seventies as a young student fond of Ray Bradbury, and today that student has changed in a grown-up fully immersed in the local and national community of artists. My proudest achievement, more than an award or a huge fee, is having the skill to be able to freeze feelings in an image created from the scratch, then unleashing that image out in the world and letting the Art speak for Herself to the heart of a vast audience.

MKR: Thank you so much for the interview, Maurizio! Readers, check out more of his work below and at his website and Facebook page.

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Five Thrillers by Robert Reed – Digital – 2009 Chesley Award Nominee
(The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, USA, 2008)

L├ízaro Y Antonio by Marta Randall – Digital – 2008 Chesley Award Nominee
(The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, USA, 2007)

Briony, Princess of Shadowmarch – Digital - 2003 Chesley Award Nominee
(Asimov’s Science Fiction, USA, 2011)

Dune by Frank Herbert – Digital – (Interior illustration for La Repubblica XL, Italy, 2012) 

Steambridge – Digital – ('The Year's Top Ten Tales of Science Fiction #4”,Infinivox, USA, 2012) 

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