Ten Awesome Contemporary Italian Illustrators

May 24, 2014 § Leave a comment

After battling with the fever and stomach problems for the past three weeks in Peru, I decided that it’s time to do something that I have never done before- cut a trip short and go home.  I’m happy about this decision.  However, it also involves a 13-hour layover in Lima, and then a 10-hour layover in Ft. Lauderdale (ahhh!).  So… time to bring this blog back from travel to good ol’ Italian culture.

Today on the menu: contemporary Italian illustrators.

I find all of the following artists extremely inspiring- not only because their skill and interpretation is of a very high level, but because they have succeeded in creating a name for themselves in a country where it takes a little bit more work.  So… I bow down to and applaud the following geniuses:


The day I felt the Richest1. ALESSANDRO GOTTARDO (aka: SHOUT)

Born in Pordenone, currently based in Milan.  Has contributed his illustrations to various big-name companies, such as Coca Cola, New York Times, Süddeutsche Zeitung, L’Espresso, New Yorker, and Reader’s Digest.  Very modern approach to the graphics: simple and clean, but alluring and with a refiend color palette.

If you like his work, here is also an interesting interview with Shout, conducted by My Modern Met.  And here is their blog post about Shout.



From Alessandria, Rik is a painter, cartoonist, and illustrator.  The simple lines and limited colors are influenced by cubism and futurism.  With a sense of fantasy, these illustrations maintain a light, air-y atmosphere- even if most of the subject matter tends to be houses and active people.

Rik’s work is also featured on various wine labels- two-for-one awesomeness!


emiliano-ponzi-043. EMILIANO PONZI

Another Milan-based illustrator with international comissions, similar in style to Shout.  However, there is a heavier weight placed on texture and repetition- a combination of which sometimes creates a trick on the eyes, as space and line blur their boundaries.





This artist focuses on seriography and hand-made books, usually working with the same textured grey paper and limited palette of colors.  A few years ago, alongside Paolo Berra,  she founded Inamorarti, an art printing studio.  She now teaches printmaking in schools and her own art studio.



The Lady of the Lake5. DARIA PETRILLI

Not working for any publishers, this artist seems to just make art for the sheer joy of making art.  Her illustrations focus on Victorianesque ladies and countryside landscapes reminiscent of classical Russian writers.  However, these two subjects merge together with a modern twist, as birds and fabric snippets juxtopose with the image in a way that mark it with a sense of collage.  If anyone has any more information/portfolio sites about Petrilli, please let me know!


31_cristian-grossi-maria-kitsh6. CRISTIAN GROSSI

This quirky illustrator seems to be all over the place with this style, materials, and messages.  Yet, somehow, the eclectic combination of minimalistic modernism and organic motifs of nature works.  He co-founded KreativeHouse, a creative studio located near Parma.  I particularly like their series of works for the International Festival of Harp.




According to her biography, Olimpia Zagnoli (or, self-claimed as OZ) rides a tiny red bike, reads the news upside-down, hates blue ink pens, and lives in Milan.  She has also worked with an impressive range of international companies; always keeping her bold, colorful style.  It is not a secret that this girl loves NYC (and that NYC loves her) and that she is inspired by all of that ’70’s funkiness.




Born in Perugia and raised in Milan, this Thai-Italian illustrator incorporates motifs and and color palettes from both the Eastern and the Western world to produce an intriguing collection of artwork.  The jungle (with all of its wild animals) and symbolic city maps seem to be her expertise, but there’s also some random gems (like the ‘Selfie’ featured on the right).  She’s also an active children’s book illustrator.



With a degree in Oriental Art and Illustration, this woman produces illustrations for various Italian magazines and editors.  Her whimsical pictures incorporate a wide range of media- newspaper/books and embroidery being her favorite.  On her website is also a special corner dedicated to her work for children’s books.

Martina Peluso Sleeping on Time10. MARTINA PELUSO

Based in Naples, Martina Peluso focuses on children’s and biblical illustrations.  Her cheery colors and organic forms make her artwork reminiscent of the fables that teachers would read out loud during storytime in elementatry school.  However, her work is not limited to mere story books, as she has also organized several cultural events and served as an art director for shows around Naples.


… it seems, that in order to boost your chances at being a successful illustrator in Italy, you should live in Milano/illustrate children’s books.  I find it interesting that I scribbled both of those things on my To Do List for the next year-ish.

It was hard to narrow down the list to these ten artists- once I dived into the world of Italian illustration, I was so happy to discover that there is a very long list of remarkable people.  If you have any other favorites, please leave a note!  The more the merrier (and artsier and Italian-er).


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