Interview with pop surreal artist Ilaria Novelli

Ilaria 's “Naughty Girls” trace a thin line between boldness and frailty, they are contemporary, busy, a little 'pseudo-divas' and a little bit, maybe, too lonely, definitely troubled and even 'dark', but yet naive and dreamy, they well represent all the contradictions and paradoxes of our times. Dichotomies that the artist highlights through the contrast between a painting technique that recalls the cartoon style and that borrows from reality its contents of the raw and disturbing adult society with the intention of forcing the viewers to a critical analysis of the cultural and social values that the old and new media are offering to the new generations.
Hello dear Ilaria, please, tell us how did you find the artist inside you? How long have you been doing art? Is art something that you always wanted to do?
I had a true epiphany when I was seven years old and I visited the Louvre museum in Paris for the first  time. I vividly recall the frustration and the mystification I experienced looking at the paintings and how small and lost I felt in front of De Lacroix.

It's like a sparkle I've always had inside of me, but only after a series of both unfortunate and fortunate events I decided to dedicate myself entirely to art.
What was / is your major influences? Other artists, books, movies, music or any other media....What inspires you to create your artworks?
I'm an iconoclast and my inspiration is full of voluntary references, I try to create my own mythology in a sort of pop 'cut-up', I often work on my paintings and illustrations after a creative process similar to collage, I start from an image or a message that inspires me and I mentally add details or symbols to give it a completely different and personal meaning. My major influences are not only other artists, I'm a cinephile and I'm interested in music and literature, many of my works have elements and quotes from what inspires me at the moment. I love Werner Herzog, Rainer Werner, Fassbinder, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Jean Luc Godard, Andrzej Żuławski , Jan van Eyck , Hans Bellmer, Henry Darger, Balthus, Henry Miller, Georges Bataille, Fëdor Dostoevskij, Mishima, Current 93, Michael Gira, Coil, Serge Gainsbourg  just to write few names.
How does "a normal day of artist" in your life look like?
I start my day very early in the morning, it's hard to reconcile work with personal life so I have to   concentrate my work in an ordinary and boring time schedule,  not always the best condition to create, but the best solution to spend the rest of the time with my family. My studio is in my basement, so I work at home and even when I'm not inspired I try to exercise or study.
What’s your background? Are you self-taught artist or did you study art? Do you think an art education is important or imperitive for anybody wishing to be an artist? What are some of the advantages and disadvantages that you have encountered throughout your career with/without the formal training of the Art Academy?
I consider myself a self-taught artist, I've studied at a fashion and costume design Academy in Rome, so my education path gave me only few imputs about painting and drawing techniques.
I think that an art education is important, at least knowing the fundamentals, but it's more important to practice and to experience. There is always something new to learn even from  mistakes and accidents, I'll never feel myself and my art complete or flawless, the only redemption comes through  hard work.
What fascinates you the most about surrealism / pop surrealism / contemporary art / lowbrow art? How would you describe your style? What themes do you pursue, what surrealism mean to you and what do you hope the viewer will take away from your art?
Since the first time I come across Pop Surrealism I had a revelation, I found many themes in common with  my fantasy and my works. I was really impressed  with the pop and the dark, mystic elements recurring in the artworks, obviously Mark Ryden is a genius, 'the' Maestro. I don't know if I can officially be classified as a 'pop surrealist', I'm also really influenced by contemporary and classic art in every form, from the body art of the 70's to Jan van Eyck. Art should bring you in unexpected, still unexplored places and should teach you how to look at things in a totally different way. Lately I become more focused on the 'pop' aspect of my work, my own fantasy has grown more and more derivative, I used references from underrated and obscure movies, music bands and literature to highlight my own vision of 'pop' and the fact that today even the counter-culture has reached a wider range of public and deserve to be part of our common consciousness. I don't like to explain what lies behind my work, I prefer to give to the viewer the power to decode a personal message, the most important thing for me is to push people to look beyond the surface and to rediscover their sense of wonder.
What do you love most about creating and being an artist? What does “being creative” mean to you?
I don't know what it means because the meaning is buried deep in my soul, it's born within me and I really can't imagine my life without creating.
Can you describe your typical workflow when you’re working on your art? What are your tools of trade? What medium do you most often use and why?

Sometimes I start with a hazy idea of what I'd like to create, I take a lot of notes before starting a new  work, writing helps me to  visualize  for the first time the 'skeleton' of my paintings or illustrations.  My work is mostly about my feelings and I use the canvas as a diary. After I focused on what inspires me the most and what I'm experiencing in that very moment I make rough sketches of the idea and then I draw it again on the canvas. But other times the process is the opposite, in my series of portraits, everything starts from a random photograph I find interesting, I often take it from   ephemeral magazine editorials or vintage pop portraits and, as I explained before, I made a 'cut-up' of the elements in a sort of visual collage and then I paint it on the canvas. My favorite media is oil or acrylic paint, I love to struggle with my canvas, I also use photoshop to create collages or illustrations, but at the moment I'm trying to focus on traditional techniques.
Which creative medium would you love to pursue but haven’t yet?

Performance art, photography and sculpture.
Tell us more about your workspace. What was the most funny or weird thing that happened to you in your studio? What is / was the most strange thing hidding in your studio?
I work from home, my studio is in the basement so it is separate from the rest of the house and when I'm not working I'm glad to not see the chaos I leave there. Nothing really interesting has ever happened yet, but probabily the most funny thing was when a couple of friends decided to visit me at the peak of what I call “The Francis Bacon's phase” (unfortunately not in artistic terms) but to my surprise they found my studio an extremely comfortable and relaxing place.

I'm obsessed with antique fairs and flea markets so I collect a lot of curious objects and art books that I keep on my shelves, I have a little collection of insects, mostly spiders, beetles and scorpions, but my favourite piece, and probabily the strangest, is a little taxidermy shark named Siegfried.
What toughest challenges have you faced as an artist during your art career? What is the biggest lesson you have learned so far?
Being what I am and doing what I do is already a big challenge, especially because I live in a small town in Italy but I've learned from that not to bend my being and my work to the standars of a place.

What’s the best and worst advice you ever received in your art career?
I received a lot of advices from people, Italians have always something to say and they perfectly know what is the best way for you to become rich and famous, so I probabily get only a lot of funny small talk.
What do you dislike about the art world? What is the hardest thing on being an artist? Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?
I'm not really into the 'art world', most of my exhibitions are curated by independent galleries or by other artists, I had only positive experiences so I can't judge. I always wanted to be an artist for myself, I don't need to be awarded for my work, I love what I do. Solitude for me is necessary, my life is very lonely but it's my choice. My only negative consideration about being an artist is thinking if it really worths living in my basement while the sun is shining and there is so much to see in the world, I think that if I'll die tomorrow I'll probabily regret it.
Where do you see yourself in the future? Professionally, what’s your goal?
I like to live from day to day, I don't know what to expect from my work in the future, I'd love to keep on learning, improving and developing my skills...And if my job would give me the chance to travel I would be more than delighted.
Do you have any tips or inspiring words for others? Maybe advice for beginning artists out there?
Keep doing what you do for yourself, do not seek the approval of others, be humble and work hard.
Your favorite art or life quote is ...

'One continuous accident mounting on top of another' by Francis Bacon
What are you doing when you’re not creating? What (other) hobbies do you have?
My favourite hobby is exploring Antique fairs and markets stalls, I love to breathe the past life of an object or a dress, it inspires my work and satisfies my aesthetic sense.
Do you have an online portfolio, blog or social medias where we can view your work?
You can find all my links in my official website, but these are the ones I update more often: my online portfolio , my Facebook page and my Visual diary.
Is there anything else you’d like to say? Is there any project you are working on right now or any ongoing event or exhibition you would like to share with our readers?
My life is unpredictable, I've just had three events in a row, the last one was just yesterday and now I've got nothing scheduled. I always have lots of personal projects, I'm working on a new series of paintings and I wish to have the chance to show them soon.

Thank you dear Ilaria, it was a honor to interview you, I wish you only the best for you and your art and already looking forward to see your new art works :)
By contributor Linda. Mar 2015. Find Oh, So Surreal on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Google + or RSS.