Roberto Cigna Illustrator Interview

Roberto Cigna

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Can you recall the first time you realized you were going to be an illustrator? What were your earliest impressions?
I don’t remember the exact moment. Since I was a child, I felt comfortable expressing myself creatively, or with anything that had to do with art. Everything that was related to art made me feel good and excited at the same time.

Who or what influenced your art when you were young?
When I was a teenager, I saw a movie about Jean-Michel Basquiat that impressed me very much. During that same period, I met a person who introduced me to graffiti in my native city. For a long period of time, graffiti was the way I expressed myself until I discovered I could express my creativity in other interesting and exciting ways.

Do you remember what your first artwork looked like? Do you still have it?
My first official artwork was for an exposition in my native city. It represented something about the role of women in our society. I’m not sure if I still have it, but it makes me smile to think about it.

Why did you choose illustration as your life’s work instead of, for example, filmmaking, law, or even medicine?
I studied cinema and mass media communications in university. During that period, I started to work as videographer. By using a computer, I discovered that I could express my creativity digitally. Little by little, I learned the basics of graphic design. I’m self-taught on the computer.
I began to get assignments and eventually illustration and graphic design replaced video- making. It was something that just happened, but at the same time, was part of a process that started many years before.

Did you study art in school?
I studied art in high school and, after that, at the University of Cinema.

Where does your inspiration come from; your impulse to make art?
My inspiration comes from everything around me. If I’m talking with someone about politics or conditions in society or anything else, I get ideas. I have a passion for hiking, and a lot of my ideas come to me when I’m in the nature: a place where I feel relaxed and comfortable.

How would you describe the process of creating art?
For me it’s very natural. As I said, ideas come to me. I work on a computer, but everything starts in my notebook. I always have a little notebook in my bag and when an idea comes to me–it really doesn’t matter where I am–I sketch it in my notebook.

Do you have a favorite illustrator? What is it about that illustrator’s work you like?
Yes, several actually. Some of my favorites are Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, and Edward Hopper. In particular, I like Diego Rivera for his use of color and the themes he explores. The same passion he had for anything in his life is apparent in everything he produced as illustrator.

If you could do something else, other than creating art, what would it be?
It’s hard for me to imagine myself doing anything else. If I had to choose, I’m sure it would be something that would keep me in contact with nature. I’m a nature lover!

Do you remember your first set of paints, pens, or markers?
When I was sixteen, I was given money for my birthday. I remember that the same day, I spent all of it on spray paints. That night, I had the couch in my room filled with every color of spray paint. I was looking at all the colors with a couple of friends. I remember being very excited, very happy.

Do you have a favorite illustrator supply, a favorite method, or favorite location, where you like to create artwork?
Basically, I work in my studio. Music relaxes me: I just love jazz. Jazz plays a big role when I’m working; puts me in the right mood.

If you could give a viewer clues to understanding your art, what would you say?
I enjoy the fact that every person has a different interpretation or different point of view. I take from what’s around me and offer my point of view.

Do you think illustration has the eye of the public or could public awareness of this field be improved upon?
I’m believe that illustration plays a big role in our society. It’s everywhere these days. Everywhere you look, you can find something illustrated. For sure, illustration is coming of age. The public is beginning to see how important illustration, and the visual arts are, in general.

Why does art matter to you? Why should it matter to the world?
It’s a question of beauty. Since I can remember, art has made my days more complete, more beautiful. Art gives the world a chance to learn, to think, to have a critical point of view about something; to experience the beauty around us. Art is one of the most beautiful expressions of human emotion. Art is what makes us humans, unique.

If you could look back or forward 100 years, do you think the life of an illustrator was or will be better than today?
I’ll answer, not just for illustrators, but for people, in general. I remain positive. I always expect things to get better. Today everything is consumed so fast that sometimes we forget what is really important and what is not.
It would be beautiful if, in 100 years, humanity became more sensible in front of art and, in general, more sensible in the world.