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To the Point: An Interview with Carol Rossetti

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What You'll Be Creating

Readers may recognize today's interviewee, Brazilian artist Carol Rossetti, as the creator of those fantastic, hand-drawn illustration depicting women, empowering messages of inclusion and little celebrations of identity. I had the pleasure of getting to know more about Carol's artwork, current series of illustrations, and a bit about her day-to-day life below.

Enjoy!

Thanks so much for the interview. Let's start at the beginning: What got you into illustration?

I've loved drawing since I learned how to grab a pencil. I think most kids love drawing; the only difference is that I never stopped practicing! So I decided to take graphic design in college, and now I work with illustration and graphic design and I really love it.

Photo of Carol Rossetti
Photo of Carol Rossetti.

Who or what are your main sources of inspiration?

Inspirations comes from everywhere, and I must say I've always had many sources. I must say that people really inspire me, much more than nature, animals or whatever. It might sound cliché, but I really believe that the human being is a never-ending source of inspiration and surprises. I find it natural that people close to me tend to be great inspirations. My parents, grandmother, friends, my husband... I really think people are very interesting.

A part of Rossettis Women series featuring the karate practicing Babi
A part of Rossettis Women series featuring the karate practicing Babi.

But, of course, there are famous people that can inspire me any day. When I was a teenager, I could barely describe how J. K. Rowling, Natsuki Takaya, and Belle & Sebastian were important to me. Their works were like my best imaginary friends, and they contributed a lot to what I am today. Nowadays, Amanda Palmer, Neil Gaiman, Phillip Pullman, Will Eisner, Dave McKean and First Aid Kit are great inspirations. It's important to find references beyond our area. So, even though I'm an illustrator, I feel most inspired by writers and musicians as well.

Did you study art or are you self taught?

Pen and ink illustration created in homage to the Quem Tem Medo book series entitled Quem Tem Medo de Escuro
Pen and ink illustration created in homage to the "Quem Tem Medo" book series entitled "Quem Tem Medo de Escuro".

I studied graphic design, and I had some drawing classes in college. I also took some courses, but never really got to finish them. I believe a lot in practice when we talk about any creative field. I think we need to constantly exercise our brains to create, and make up new things, and think of something new. It's important to exercise these abilities; it's like a muscle. Sometimes we get rusty. 

What is your creative process like?

Another piece of Rossettis Women series translated into English and featuring Mariana
Another piece of Rossettis "Women" series translated into English and featuring Mariana.

That depends. I may have an idea and just draw it out of the blue. I like to use pictures of people on the internet to practice poses and human anatomy. When I want to make an illustration about something I'm not very familiar with, I need to do good research, and listen to what people who have lived their situation have to say. None of my illustrations are made based on personal assumptions. I listened to people who have been through each of those situations, so I would do something true and respectful. This is very important to me.

What programs and tools do you use in creating your work? Anything you're especially fond of that you'd like to recommend to readers? 

I do everything manually; all my drawings are handmade. Nowadays, I've been using kraft paper, but I like drawing on any kind of paper. 

A Spanish language version of Rossettis Women series featuring the story of Maira
A Spanish language version of Rossetti's "Women" series featuring the story of Maira.

I think it's important to experiment with new things, new techniques, new materials. It's a way to avoid being stuck on a single thing. When we get too comfortable doing something, it's time to move on and discover new things. I mean, we sure have our favorite things and there's no problem with that. But I believe it's very important to keep discovering the world, because it's big, it's wide, and it's worth seeing more and trying new things. Anyway, I do it manually, and then I scan it, add my signature using photoshop, and that's it!

How many years have you worked as an illustrator/designer?

Pencil and Ink piece Pausa

Well, it's been three years since I graduated. Of course I already did something during college, but mostly, my career began in 2010, both as a graphic designer and illustrator.

What's your typical workday like? How about your work space? Can you give us an insight into how and where you work?

Rossettis work in progress shared via her Facebook page
Rossetti's work in progress, shared via her Facebook page.

I work at home and have to be very organized to do everything on time. I usually wake up around 7:30 am, have some breakfast, and start working. I work on a glass table, where I can illustrate, or use the computer. I work the whole day long, making stops to rest my eyes sometimes when I feel the necessity.

Rossetti in her home office
Rossetti in her home office.

It's great to be my own boss in that I can suddenly stop at a random time to watch some series or take a walk. We can't do this at an agency or company. And I think it's something really important when we work in a creative field. Sometimes we need to rest our eyes, think about something else, stretch our legs, or take a nap. It is more productive at the end of the day.

Rossettis bookshelves filled with inspiration
Rossetti's bookshelves, filled with inspiration.

There's something I'm very different from most of my colleagues: I do sleep eight hours a day and I don't go to bed too late (I usually sleep around 23:30 - 00:00). If I sleep less than 7 hours, I'll have this sort of hangover feeling the next day. 

Your 'Women' series delivers such a powerful, inclusive message of acceptance and agency for all women. Is the name of the series "Women"? Are any of the women's' stories inspired by experiences of those you know personally, or those you've observed through society? 

A piece based on Rossettis friend Whitney covering the topic of body acceptance
A piece based on Rossetti's friend, Whitney, covering the topic of body acceptance.

This is still a problem: I've got no name yet. I'm trying to find a good one with my translators, but that's hard. Anyway, yes, most of my stories were based on people I know—but I always change the name and the appearance.

A piece featuring Rossettis friend Aline covering the topic of sexuality and identity
A piece featuring Rossetti's friend, Aline, covering the topic of sexuality and identity.

Well, not always. Whitney and Aline are really like that! But there were also some that I based on things I read on the internet, of people who lived through it. And nowadays I also get a lot of suggestions.

Since the series has gone viral, being posted daily across social networks, do you plan on expanding the series further than previously planned? Will it include prints or even a book?

I hope so! I'd really love to publish one. Now I have an agent helping me with that. But what I'm very sure of is that soon I'll have an online shop working, where I'll sell mostly prints and postcards!

What are your plans for future work?

Graphic design project of Caf com Chocolate as featured on their website
Graphic design project of Café com Chocolate as featured on their website.

I'm not sure. I've got many personal projects and still run a graphic design studio called Café com Chocolate with three colleagues that graduated with me. So there's really a lot on my hands right now.

Do you prefer to take on illustration or graphic design projects? 

Oh, I love them both! There's room for everybody!

What words of advice do you have for emerging illustrators or artists who wish to engage in design as you have?

This is hard. I guess it would be to always experiment new things, and never get stuck in a single thing. I mean, I didn't like colored pencils until three months ago, and look what happened when I decided to give it a try! 

A STEM industry-related addition to her Women series
A STEM industry-related addition to her "Women" series.

Conclusion

Many thanks to Carol for taking the time out of her schedule for the interview. You can check out more of her work at the links below:

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