Italian illustrator, Nicoletta Ceccoli, creates dreamy dimensions inhabited by delicate creatures caught in a fantastical fresco. Her work is sublimely surreal and evokes a feeling of looking at an ethereal microcosm. In addition to her prolific painting collection, Ms. Ceccoli has illustrated several children’s books and has also been commissioned for commercial work. Whether illustrating an ad which befittingly highlights the sleeping comforts of an aircraft or collaborating on The Joy of Spooking for children, Ceccoli’s work beautifully retains her signature palette of cotton candied hues and porcelain characters.
Nicoletta Ceccoli is a three-time winner of the Award of Excellence from Communication Arts and was awarded the silver medal from the New York based Society of Illustrators in 2006.
1) Do you remember one of your first paintings or drawings as a young child?
A portrait of my favourite doll. I called her ‘Birillina’. I still have that doll on my shelf in my studio between my favourite objects and toys.
2) What and/or who are your influences?
I try to surround myself with many examples from art history or from other illustrated sources for inspiration..my style is the result of the many different things I admire and I am inspired by…I love Piero della Francesca whose paintings are so clean, neat pure measured and classical…One of my favourite illustrators is Stasys Eidrigevicius and his dark surrealism. Then I have anadoration for the Mexican artist Remedios Varo, too… and for the comics of early 1900 like Little Nemo by Winsor McCay-so imaginative and full of whimsical surreal inventions. Paul Klee once described an artist as being like a tree, drawing the minerals of experience from its roots – things observed, read, told and felt – and slowly processing them into new leaves.The principle of ‘originality’ is more about a kind of transformation of existing ideas than the invention of entirely new ones for me. Words like ‘inspiration’ can easily convey a false impression that ideas or feelings appear spontaneously and of their own accord. My own experience is that inspiration has more to do with careful research and looking for a challenge; and that creativity is about playing with what I find, testing one proposition against another and seeing how things combine and react.
3) Your art is very surreal-what is the last dream that you can remember?
There is a recourring dream I have since several years ago…a neverending house -castle whose inside I explore going undergroud inside it deeper and deeper in its downstairs and empty rooms. The castle reminds me of my school which was placed inside the Ducal Palace of Urbino.
4) What projects are you in the process of working on? Do you have any upcoming shows?
My most recent book is The Girl in the Castle Inside the Museum
a children’s book published in 2008 by Random House of New York. It is full of dreamlike and inside-outside visions. It has been my most interesting and personal project as illustrator of books since now. The story is very simple but unusual. I thought to set it in a toy museum and I thought of the girl as if she is living in a toy castle somehow. So when the children come to the museum they look for her through the windows of the toy castle. The results are quiet surreal images with giant child faces spying on the small doll princess’ life…In 2008 ,I worked as character designer for a French animation project La Mecanique du Couer
with the direction of Mathias Malzieu and the production of Luc and Silla Besson. The film should be released in 2010.
5) What advice do you offer illustrators who are just starting out professionally?
Fight for their dreams!