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Interview

Fernando Cobelo

Originality, simplicity and emotional sensitivity. Those are the main traits of Fernando Cobelo and his faithful ally, a well-sharpened pencil. Among both personal and special projects, the Venezuelan artist, who put the nostalgia of his own homeland at the foundations of the ‘ordinary’ subjects that animate his extraordinary artworks, opens himself up in this interview, revealing his intimate essence.

When did you realize that you wanted to pursue an artistic career?

I was the typical child who spends his days drawing. In particular, I remember that, when I was little, I really liked to reproduce the characters of the cartoons: I grew up in Venezuela and, sometimes, it was hard for me to find the dolls I liked, so I used to draw and cut those characters to play with them. Maybe, that’s where it all got started.


image with artdirection
image with artdirection

In each artistic phase, I’ve been happy and satisfied with my creative production. Looking back, I obviously don’t recognize myself in some of my drawings, but I had to embark on this journey in order to reach today’s style, and that’s for sure just a stop-over on my way to the style of tomorrow.

How could your drawings be described? Has your pencil’s line changed over the years?

The personal style of each and every artist evolves with practice, and my case isn’t any different. In each artistic phase, I’ve been happy and satisfied with my creative production. Looking back, I obviously don’t recognize myself in some of my drawings, but I had to embark on this journey in order to reach today’s style, and that’s for sure just a stop-over on my way to the style of tomorrow. For me, what really matters is not loosing that simplicity and emotional sensitivity at the foundations of my illustrations.


What has been the most important moment in your career?

Actually, there hasn’t been a particularly important moment, but a series of situations and experiences that have led me right where I’m now. From a personal point of view, one of the most important moments has been my departure to Italy from Venezuela. As to the professional side, I mention my first collaboration: that’s been the moment I’ve understood that I could make a living out of my illustrations.


You recently launched a collection entitled ‘The Universe and Me’, that is made up of 2 pins. What’s your favourite accessory?

Well, I’m a fan of pins and I have some brooches on every jacket and backpack that I own. At the very same time, that’s the accessory I easily lose as I’m very absent-minded.


You live in Turin, but you were born and grew up in Venezuela. What can we find of your homeland in your artworks?

I think the nostalgia in my artworks is mostly the result of the distance of my homeland and my people. In fact, I live every day with the nostalgia of not being surrounded by the elements that I grew up with, without a feeling of sadness. It means I was as happy as I’m now.


Moreover, you presented a collection of limited edition printed T-shirts, that transfers the illustrations of the series ‘Me & Myself’. What’s the item of clothing you’d like to customize in your next capsule collection?

I’m thinking about realizing a collection of embroidered T-shirts, but for now it’s just an idea.


With over 19,000 likes and 86,000 followers, both your Facebook page and Instagram profile have a large following. How do you react to online critics? Which difficulties have you had to face along your path?

If you know how to take critics in the right way, they can be constructive…so, critics are welcome! The real struggle has to do with the lack of respect that people have for the images found on the internet. They do think the rights are theirs just because they saved the pictures from Facebook or Pinterest, eventually copying or using those images for profit. Unfortunately, social networks don’t protect us artists under these circumstances.


You’ve worked for different international realities (among these Huawei, Lavazza, Moleskine, Lonely Planet and Walt Disney Studios). What’s the experience that you remember with love and tenderness?

Some of my most interesting works are the ones I did in collaboration with Lavazza. I also have the books published by ‘Penguin Random House’ and ‘Ediciones Hidroavión’, or even the benches donated to Comune di Fidenza, very close to my heart. I’m very happy and satisfied with the collaborations I’ve done so far, with both small and big companies.


An advice for the young illustrators who are in search of their stylistic hallmark?

I’d suggest trying and having a go, with strategy and seriousness, with fun and intelligence. I’d suggest drawing inspiration and copying and practicing. I’d suggest visiting exhibitions and talking with artists. Just never stop and be curious.


Lastly, you gave your contribution to the project of independent culture for correspondence ‘Hoppípolla’. Would you talk about this collaboration?

The co-founder of Hoppípolla Paola Tartaglino and I had been talking about a collaboration for a long time, and we finally made it happen. The subject of the November 2018 edition was ‘Tales and fables’, and so I created a visual story called ‘Fantastic Solitude’, that illustrates the wonders of being a loner. We’re all extremely happy with the achieved results!


A wish for the future of the Italian creative scene?

I wish it will just keep on following the path it has embarked on, so many other beautiful things will come into the world.


image with artdirection
image with artdirection

I think the nostalgia in my artworks is mostly the result of the distance of my homeland and my people. In fact, I live every day with the nostalgia of not being surrounded by the elements that I grew up with, without a feeling of sadness. It means I was as happy as I’m now.

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