Giulia Martinelli is an Italian illustrator and animation director who has toured the world with her work through animation festivals. We had the privilege to talk to Giulia about her work, her life and what inspires her, and offers some advice for other young creatives starting out.
Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your work?
My name is Giulia and I am an Italian illustrator and animation director.
Before I decided to dedicate my life to the arts, I studied foreign languages and literature in my hometown Torino. I’ve always loved storytelling and doodling, I just had no idea this could actually turn into my full time job!
In Torino I then – almost by chance – started my journey with animation, eventually graduating from the National Film School in 2016 with a pretty successful animated short-film called MERLOT https://vimeo.com/356409246 ), that allowed me to tour the world through many animation festivals.
Since then I moved abroad, hopping from country to country, until I finally stopped in Switzerland, where I live and work as a freelance artist. Here I create illustrations and animations, mostly digital, from a co-working space in Zurich that I share with 3 talented freelance friends.
My other passions are swing dancing and singing, acrobatics, taking care of plants and plant based cooking.
What inspires you?
I do not wait for “inspiration” to come to me: I learned over time that the best way to be productive is to actually start working no matter what. What happens around me stimulates my creativity: art often comes as an urge to express some feeling or some fact or information that I consider important. I am sensitive to environmental and social issues and I strongly believe that art has the role of bringing awareness, empowering and informing the audience. At the same time, art can make complicated and grim themes lighter and easier to “digest”.
How does your work reflect your lived experience?
I can totally see pieces of my life in my work: consciously or not, part of us and our unique life experiences will be visible in the art we produce. For instance, I surely see a strong connection with nature, that I have always had, growing up in the countryside.
I also try to let my values and lifestyle shine through my work, for example choosing clients and projects that align with my beliefs.
What do you wish for viewers to take from your work?
I wish my art could be a useful tool to inspire, inform and empower.
As I mentioned before, I love how art can deal with important topics, while making them easier to approach and understand. I do not want my work to be excessively serious – life is already way too serious in my opinion -, so I also value the power of irony and the ability of leaving my viewers with a smile and some food for thought.
What is your process?
I am a big fan of planning, which means that often my work starts with brainstorming, mind-maps and lists. Also a lot of doodling and sketches are important steps of the process – usually first on paper, later transferred into digital. I like carrying around a sketchbook, in order to be able to catch any little idea or moment, and get back to it later. To let an idea get ripe, a walk in nature and a good night of sleep are also good ingredients. During my process it is also important to leave some space for external feedback, from other fellows artists, but also from my audience, because during creation I want to keep in mind both perspectives.
How did you develop your style?
I think style develops over time and it also constantly changes and “grows”, like the artist.
One thing for sure, is that young artists worry way too much about “finding The Style” – I had the same tormented feeling when I started off. It can lead you to a vicious cycle, quite stressful and therefore not good for creativity. For this reason, I think that what matters is worrying less and creating more. Your style will appear along the way.
Also, I love the quote from Jim Jarmusch “Nothing is original” about originality and how it is a very utopic and dangerous concept. I wrote this quote at the beginning of my sketchbook. (link:https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/131591-nothing-is-original-steal-from-anywhere-that-resonates-with-inspiration )
Which project are you currently working on?
This year I want to finally produce my new independent animated short-film: MAREA.
“Marea” is an Italian word which means tide. It’s the story of a special family, which is living on a tiny island and has to deal with the up-and-downs of their everyday life and of the tide. MAREA LINK: https://giuliamartinelli.com/marea-2020
I am working on it by myself: it is a real one-man-band project and it has been teaching me A LOT about self-discipline and the animation industry.
I had the chance to develop the idea during an artistic residency at the Open Workshop, in Viborg, DK (2019). Now it is time to animate it and I really wish to finish it this year and let it tour the world in animation festivals. Since it is a personal independent project, I am trying to finance it myself through Patreon, which is a great platform to support independent artists and their projects.
On Patreon I share the behind the scenes of my freelance life, and especially the process of producing an independent animated short-film. Link Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/giuliamartinelli
Please consider supporting me and MAREA: if you like the story and would like to see it come to life, and also if you want to be part of the behind the scenes, you will love that little community! I hope to see you there!
What is next for you?
As the new year started, I made a bunch of mind maps and tried to visualize where I want my work to go. For sure I am getting more and more involved in topics that are dear to me, like environmental and social issues.
I would love in the future to make more short films, also an animated documentary and finally a picture book.
Any advice for artists starting out on their creative journey?
I know it is easier said than done, but: do not freak out!
At the beginning of my creative journey I was worried not to find any work, so I was ready to do literally ANYTHING and I was looking desperately for some kind of “creative” job. For sure, it is normal, when starting out, to be confused about the direction you want to take, and at the same time to be inclined to accept any kind of client and underpaid job.
Still, please keep in mind, it is perfectly normal to freak out a little bit at the beginning, and to ask yourself what you are going to do with your degree. My advice is to try to calm down, accept that the confusion is part of this phase – and instead of crazily spend hours randomly sending your portfolio literally everywhere, or feeling stuck, take some quiet time to yourself, doodling, daydreaming, seeing where this takes you. Working on some personal material/project to enrich your portfolio is way more important, to define who you are as an artist and where you want to go. This is for sure one thing I wish I could say to younger Giulia. Once I started to focus more on what I like producing, and I gave myself permission and time to actually make those things, I started to attract clients that really wanted me and my style.
Where can we find you?
Pretty much everywhere on the internet!
I love connecting with people, so please drop me a line and say hi!
A big thank you to Giulia for her wonderful responses!