Q&A with editorial/ publishing illustrator Sara Padovan, based in Milan

Sara Padovan is a freelance illustrator based in Milan. Following her passion for illustration as a self-taught artist, Sara attended the IED (European Institute of Design). Her previous studies gave her a style that is based on concept and communication above all.

Sara has always loved working with pencils but her Ipad Pro and Procreate have enabled her to find a good balance between pencil and spot colour, digital and analog. She also knows how to work fluently with Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign.

Currently Sara is working as a conceptual illustrator for newspapers and has published her first children’s book. Her first illustration for Politico was for the 29 June print edition and is featured below, Here's …

When did you start illustrating?

I started drawing seriously when I was 14, after a traumatic event in my life, I began to express my deepest thoughts through drawing and poetry. From this moment on, I never stopped drawing and decided to pursue my studies in illustration. I always think that illustration should go beyond the beauty of a style, but reveal a concept that remains hidden.

Who has been the most supportive in your illustration career, perhaps your teacher, family, friends?

My parents wanted me to undertake traditional university studies: psychology, for example. I initially tried to go along with them by attending humanistic studies, but as much as I was fascinated by the psyche, nothing could deter me from my dream of becoming an illustrator. So there were ups and downs and my parents did not always believe in me. It was different when I met Anna at university, she supported me right from the start. She was my storyboard teacher and followed my thesis project. Even now when I am struggling and think I can't do it she is there to remind me.

Did you always think art was something that was going to be a major part of your life?

Yes, growing up I always surrounded myself with art. I tried all disciplines that allowed me to express myself. I started with writing, like poetry. Then I discovered the world of the circus and there I found my second familia. We do events around the world and now I teach contortionism, aerial acrobatics and pole dancing to future acrobats. The circus has supported me in realising my dreams and mine has always been to become a successful illustrator.

What is your favourite subject matter to illustrate?

Although I like to illustrate concepts and stories over subjects, my favourite subjects are clouds and animals. I love drawing the shapes of clouds, because just as they are random in the real world, they are also random to my pencil, I let the pencil go its own way, I draw the transparencies and enjoy seeing the result they form. Animals, on the other hand, are the most fun subjects to draw, I love to draw them with tapered paws, long snouts and tiny eyes.

How would you describe your style?

My style? Everyone calls it elegant and delicate. In fact it perfectly describes my person, sensitive and subtle. I illustrate with procreate, I have my own brushes reminiscent of watercolour, I like to layer them and add flat colours. What makes them special are the fine-tipped pencil shades, like fine needles.

What is your favourite collaboration to date?

Until now it has been the one with the POLITICO. It was to illustrate a foreign policy article. All the steps up to the realisation were exciting, from the ideas to the collaboration with the art director. It was the first time I had collaborated with such a well-known newspaper, I had with me the pages of a news story that was not yet known to the world and it was adrenalin-pumping. Finally, the compliments from the art director rounded off the experience.

What interested you about being represented by Illo Agency?

It was really the agency that found me! thanks to your mentorship. I am very grateful to have met Amy, who enthusiastically followed me through all stages of the mentorship. She showed great interest in me and we immediately found a connection.Illo is an agency that curates broad themes, is always interested in new styles of illustration, and covers the whole world. I think these reasons are enough to make her ideal.

Do you have a favourite author, film director, or designer?

Of course! My favourite remains Gianni Rodari, he can put together wordplay, visual poetry and illustration. It is the perfect cocktail for the imagination, they are fairy tales for children, but I recommend them to adults because they bring back the innocence of our past.

Are you working on any personal projects you can share with us?

I am currently focusing on small publishing projects that I do to keep myself trained and up-to-date. I like to do individual illustrations on current issues, for example, the last work I did was about the climate crisis. Of course, I am looking forward to new projects to do, proposed by Illo!

Do you listen to podcasts? If so, do you have a favourite?

Yes, Every morning I listen to 'Today On Focus,' it helps me find new ideas for my illustrations and digs deep into important issues. It definitely remains my favourite for now. In second place, being a lover of 'ted talks', I would put 'ted talks daily'.

If you’d like more info, please contact: [email protected]

At illo agency, we pride ourselves in representing a collation of global illustrators, distinctly diverse in creativity and uniquely celebrated by like-minded clients across a range of commercial markets.