Story time, children.
I met Valerio for the first time years ago when I was still modeling for the AAU. It was always a bit embarrassing to see students in the halls afterwards, as for many it may have been their first nude female experience, and there was always a certain look in a (most often male) student’s eyes when they were thinking of you, now fully clothed and off the clock, naked. Anyways, Valerio was in his first year and in a beginner’s foundation course for figure drawing and it was the first day of class. I remember him being very hungry for learning and a general wide-eyed approach to the whole experience, and the way he handled himself was so passionate that I knew he’d do something great. You can kind of tell, sometimes, when someone has what it takes, especially when you see thousands of students a week while modeling. You can see who listens, who challenges, and who keeps the spark in their eye going. Valerio was right at home at the AAU, and though I never really talked to him again (we spoke briefly that first day, when he complimented my modeling), I always saw him around and noticed how he was still excited to be there, years later.
Now I think he has graduated and has some very interesting projects underway. I noticed his name pop up on a “Must see illustrators from CTN” and I had a tiny ping of pride at seeing this student come all that way from his first day at AAU to being a full, accomplished artist. And, a really, really spectacular one at that.
I won’t go so into the why of how these drawings are so amazing. I think its because I can’t really put my finger on it .- I mean, he isn’t reinventing the wheel with these works, necessarily. Some artists we feature are so unique and special and that is why they are special. Of course these are incredibly strong drawings, with solid weight and character to both the pose and layout. They are definitely superb in their execution, and they are a great blend of traditional and digital tools. But I think for me what is the most captivating is how much he likes drawing these. That same passion I saw in him that first day in school is still felt in these drawings and it brings a very special relationship to the work. No one wants to see a piece of work that someone hated making – especially a children’s book drawing. It was Mr. Rogers who said “Kids can spot a phony a mile away”, so I think it is especially important to have a love of the craft in that field of illustration.
Cheers Valerio, I hope to see that passion last for years to come.