May 06, 2013

Interview with Cinzia Ruggieri

Italian artist/illustrator Cinzia Ruggieri is as passionated about illustrated books as I am, so we thought it would be a nice idea to interview each other and share this with you. Visit Cinzia's blog for her interview series, including one with me. Cinzia is the founder of Tictoctac, a small independent art and design studio, based in a hidden garden somewhere in Catania, Sicily. There she makes the prettiest hand-bound notebooks, cards, art prints and illustrations, in limited editions. The language of all her work is very simple and poetic. I especially like her soft coloured paintings.

Please tell me more about your working space. Where have all these lovely things been created?

CR: My studio was part of my grandparents’ home. Despite being in the city it is tucked away in a small garden between the buildings, and it is quiet and bright. In addition it is linked to my childhood and my loved ones, so it is a very special place for me where I work with joy. Normally it is quite messy above all the room where I paint, but always peaceful and inspiring.

Over many years you've been working as an author and illustrator of children's books. After your kids grew up, you decided to study again. What were the main reasons for you to restart and launch your own studio in 2011?

CR: First of all I felt the need to experiment with new challenging techniques and materials and to discover new points of view. Tictoctac has arrived along with the new space for the studio. Before that, I worked at home and I had just a small room where it was impossible to accommodate a printing press or tools for screen printing. The larger space gave me the push also to open up to collaborations with other artists, even with experiences very different from my own. I think I can say that everything is in progress in my new venture, lots of things still have to find a form but at the base of it all is the need to open up, to take risks, to experiment.

Could you please describe a normal day of work in your present life? How do you get your daily dose of inspiration?

CR: Normally I work from 10.30am till late afternoon with just a break for lunch. But on some days I walk and I take pictures, or I read … and sometimes I do apparently nothing at all … Inspiration comes above all from everyday life, but also from my dreams and of course from work.

You told me about your friends Diletta and Chiara who just opened a fantastic book store in Milan, specialized in books with pictures and images of all kinds. What are your favourite picture books?

CR: Picture books are still a great passion of mine, I love to discover new illustrators and to follow the ones I prefer, like Beatrice Alemagna, Chris Haughton, Jon Klassen (I love so much "This is not my hat"!), and Wolf Erlbruch, just to mention some. I love picture books with good stories and rhythm both in text and images, where children are treated as persons and their complexity is respected. If I have to choose the perfect picture book for me I would say: "Little blue and little yellow". I love obviously all the works of Leo Lionni, but this book is  t h e  book in my opinion: It has a perfect balance between text and illustrations, the story is as essential as the illustrations and at the same time it is rich and deep in its content and in its relations with contemporary art.

Tictoctac notebooks and cards at the Knots Collective pop up store in London in 2012

What are you currently working at? What are your upcoming projects?

CR: I’m working right now on a new series of cards and prints for Tictoctac and I’m also collaborating with a friend, a painter and printmaker, for a new project: an investigation in two voices about nature and disappearance that we will be exhibited soon.

Thanks a lot to Cinzia for this interview!

Cinzia runs two blogs, one about her life, art and creativity and another dedicated to Tictoctac. If you want to purchase one of her prints, some cards or notebooks etc. you can do this easily via etsy or bigcartel.

Be sure to visit the site of Cinzia's friends Diletta and Chiara as well. They recently opened the wonderful Spazio b**k shop in Milan. It's a dream! I have to go to Milan some day just for this shop ... 

(Images via Cinzia Ruggieri)