I really felt this interview instinctively. This exchange of emails was a dialogue of smiles, heart-warming thoughts, butterflies in my stomach and unexpected surprises.
Daniela, I can’t thank you enough for your time and your sweetness.
I also thank from the bottom of my heart Miss “DDF” Caroline Kearney, for being so kind to me and helping me check the words you’re reading.
Daniela, should we listen to a particular song while reading your interview?
I suggest a song I listened to some nights ago, the unplugged version of The Man I Love by Hindi Zahra.
Perfect. Let’s put our headphones on.
Daniela, tell us a story about you. One of those tiny daily stories that makes us understand a little part of who you are.
I have been stuck on this question for so long Barbara! The only thing that came to my mind were too personal. I can tell you something I feel very strongly about. I live in Rome and we are lucky enough to be surrounded by a lot of green. But when I don’t feel good, I need to feel in contact directly with nature. So I run off from here and often go to one of my best friend’s house in Terracina (half way between Rome and Naples, on the Italian west coast, Ed.). I let myself be carried away by the hills and the sea, and even in the cold of winter. It is here that my mind and worries somehow are quietened. Without the buzzing of my computer, and with my mobile which has no signal, and with the freedom of not always being available at all times.
When did drawing become your actual job?
I began thinking seriously about it when I was selected for the first time to take part in the the prestigious competition Ilustrarte, in 2009. It was totally unexpected. I was among many professional illustrators, all extremely good and out of my league. At that time I had just begun frequenting the book fair scene, I felt like a fish out of water (but of the happiest kind), and I thought I had to demonstrate I could get commissioned and be asked to realize big projects.
But most of all I’ve always strongly desired (like in this moment, because I have to support myself daily against difficulties) that drawing could occupy the most part of my days. I really wanted to be an illustrator; I didn’t want it to be just a remote possibility.
Have you ever done four-handed works?
Not yet, but I have many ideas about it.
However, if I think about my academic years, I did it once with a friend and colleague. We both worked on the same plate but everything happened at a distance and by mail between La Spezia and Rome. There was a strong feeling; at one point one couldn’t distinguish the two pairs of hands. Experimenting in this way was an emotional experience, as was being able to see something grow, and above all it was great to receive envelopes ready to explode, full of coloured paper, bits of material, words and poems.
There’s a lot of room for thoughts in your illustrations. Mine have always found all the space they needed. What do the women in your illustrations think about?
Always different things. About a place, a person, a day gone by, what to do, where to go. I would like to make them more real, more grounded.
Pick one of your drawings, the one you like the most, the one that talks to you most in this very moment. Could you tell us something about it?
Maybe one of those I made for the second number of Squame Fanzine, accompanied by the text of Sara Trofa. I would choose the second one, where the woman becomes a coffin, a garden, a blossoming skin. It made me muse a lot, it roused a series of associations I want to develop.
Daniela Tieni, when she’s not drawing, what does she do?
I walk, read a lot and enjoy teatime.
I leave you with a poem that has always been in my heart, and returned to my mind powerfully a couple of months ago. It’s called La rosa bianca by Attilio Bertolucci :
Coglierò per te
l’ultima rosa del giardino,
la rosa bianca che fiorisce
nelle prime nebbie.
Le avide api l’hanno visitata
sino a ieri,
ma è ancora così dolce
che fa tremare.
È un ritratto di te a trent’anni,
un po’ smemorata, come tu sarai allora.
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