Interview with Talita Lily - italian comic artist and mangaka

YP: Tell us a bit about you and your work, your art style and medium: anything concerning your art that you believe to be of significance.

T: Hi! I'm Talita, I'm an artist from Cuneo, I’ve lived in Milan for a long time and then moved to Genoa, where I currently reside. My art style has gone through various phases, even if until I was 14 I had never even thought about drawing. Both my parents have always had something to do with the artistic environment - my mother is a housewife but she has illustrated a children's book, and draws a lot even in her spare time; my father is a "madonnaro" with her, they organise events in city squares where they draw religious iconography with chalk, on the floor - When it comes to art, I was even repulsed by manga. Let's say that "the call of the lord" came to me when I saw an episode of Naruto on television, discovering the existence of comic books and starting to copy Naruto's own aesthetic style; which was then replaced by Shaman King’s, once I entered the anime world. It can be said that my style is formed by the aesthetics of all the anime and manga that I have read so far, taking inspiration from one and from the other.

 

YP: What prompted you to venture into the world of digital art? How did you start your artistic journey? Furthermore, how is the art scene viewed by the country you’re from, or currently living in?

T: I have to admit that I've always been a huge fan of traditional art, I only started drawing digitally two years ago. The change occurred due to the need to produce many copies of the same artwork; but I don't deny that switching to a drawing tablet was a sort of mourning, it was really tiresome personally.

The experience I've had in the art scene varies a lot depending on the city you take into consideration. Bigotry reigned in Cuneo, everybody said that "manga has no future" and there was no way to change anyone's mind; in Milan the situation was extremely different, a world opened up to me when I moved there around the age of 21. I worked as a waitress and I always saw the local customers bursting with creative energy, often they were employees of companies in creative fields (advertising, video games), and their attitude inspired me to the point of giving me the will to draw once I got back from a day of work. As for Genoa, I can say that it is a slightly "older" city than Milan, there are not many creative initiatives to participate in, there are no stimuli.

 

YP: If you feel comfortable doing so, please tell us something about your course of study. Did you study anything specific regarding art or was your interest born from elsewhere? How would you define your skill level currently?

T: I was in a Liceo Musicale when I received "the call from the lord" that I mentioned earlier, and I wondered what I was actually doing with my life. I changed high schools and enrolled in Liceo Artistico, signing up for summer courses at the European Academy of Manga in view of the academic year I wanted to enrol in after graduation.

At the age of 18 I started teaching for the Academy, and I have now been continuing in this profession for 12 years, teaching through online courses. In 2020 I finally published my comic "Zara" (with Shockdom), whose idea dates back to 2016.

 

YP: Art is most definitely a challenging, albeit extremely satisfactory activity to pursue. What impact has it had on your life so far?

T: In one way or another art has always been an integral part of my life, whether it was because of my parents, school or my personal attitude - it has always been there. Right now, it's literally the foundation of my profession, so I can definitely say it has had a very profound impact on my life. Personally, I've always considered myself a beginner and will always consider myself a beginner, although society now tends to view me as a professional.

 

YP: Does your art enable you to support yourself economically? In case it doesn’t, is that something you’re striving for?

T: After a positive development in recent times, I can say yes! With the first comic I published I didn't earn much, but recently I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with third parties outside Italy and the project is paying off very well. We are in an advanced stage of the collaboration, and thankfully it is helping me a lot economically. I must admit that the project seems to have taken hold specifically because it is not being published in Italy. The big problem that most Italian manga artists face is the same: the Italian public is not ready, it is not in the perspective, to support Italian mangakas and comic artists. At the beginning anyone who wanted to write a manga was stopped right away or made fun of, insulted, as any non-Japanese project was seen as a mere imitation of much higher quality manga - it’s obvious that the artistic style of Italian authors is not even remotely like the Japanese one, their conception of manga is part of the general culture of any member of any age; in Italy, wanting to be an artist is still seen as a lost cause. Actually, if the Italian authors who are trying their hand at manga production were given a chance, it would be clear that the fusion of the styles taken into consideration can create something truly magical. In Japan the most important element of a manga is the plot, not the drawing, while in Italy it's the other way around - because of this preference, many publishers and many readers tend to ignore or belittle various projects, without even giving the author a chance to tell their story. They don't trust a project if it isn't aesthetically perfect right from the start.

 

YP: What platforms do you use to promote your work? Do you think anything should be fixed about them or implemented differently? Do you think that a new platform concerning solely digital art would be useful?

T: I post very little, to be honest, and I only use Instagram. I've never had Deviantart or ArtStation, although lately I've been reconsidering the idea of ‚Äč‚Äčopening an account on either platform. I don't think a social network just for digital artists would be very successful - you need a more diverse audience, otherwise the platform has no hope of holding up.

 

YP: Have you ever had any problem regarding copyright and its management? 

T: Redbubble makes me lose my patience a bit more every day. I tend to upload fanart of characters and fandoms that interest me, and someone promptly reports my artworks for copyright infringement, causing the platform to remove them from the designs available for purchase. On the contrary, all designs depicting literally screenshots from anime are never removed.

Furthermore, I happened to come across copyright issues following some commissions carried out on Fiverr, in which I tend to combine characters from different series in the same illustration. The matter has never been investigated, however.

 

YP: Have you ever had any experience concerning stolen artworks? How did you face the situation?On the same wavelength, has anyone ever posted your artworks and pretended they were theirs? If you contacted them, were they cooperative or unresponsive?

T: I had an artwork stolen and was notified by my followers, only to discover that the culprit was a Spanish shop that sold the design applied to phone cases, shirts and similar products. I contacted them and received no reply, but I saw that they later removed the drawing from the available designs.

The situation inside conventions is absolutely shameful: all the stands sell merchandise depicting artworks and stolen works, without any kind of credit to the original artists.

 

YP: What is your opinion about NFTs and their impact on the world regarding Digital Art? Are you in favour of AIs using your art to enrich their database?

T: Honestly, I have to admit I don't know much about the matter. Until now I have managed to avoid news and proposals regarding NFTs, and the situation is pretty much the same for the development of Artificial Intelligence as well.

 

YP: What would you change about the current art scene in the world if you could? What do you expect from the future of art?

T:  As of right now I deeply wish that the artist's profession wasn't as elitist as it has developed lately. Some artistic sectors get far more recognition and more opportunities than others, leaving many artists scrambling to get jobs and some kind of economic livelihood. The ideal would be to achieve a general development within all areas.

 

Author

Yako

Yako (He/Them)

Columnist

Content Creator for cosplay, gaming and animation. With a degree in foreign languages and a great passion for Oriental culture, he writes about copyright to protect the work of artists and young minds. A cosplayer since 2015, Yako is an advocate of gender identity and the development of one's creativity through personal attitudes: be it role-playing, cosplay or writing.

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