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Artist or architect? Why not both? | #MemberSpotlight on Cristina Clementel

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Cristina Clementel is a freelance artist and architect, living and working between London and Italy. She grew up with a passion for drawing in a small town in the Italian mountains but moved to Venice to pursue a degree in Architecture. But she’s never abandoned her love for illustration.

She’s spent her freelance career working on several diverse projects, from graphic design to illustration, combining both her passions for architecture and art to create unique custom designs.

We caught up with Cristina this week to discuss how she manages to balance her passions as artist and architect.

How did you get into the industry?

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I have always loved art since I was little. I started out drawing for charity events where I came from, or for friends that were asking me to draw something for them. My life took another path as I grew up though, so I graduated in architecture. But I never really stop drawing, so after school I decided to study and work as a graphic designer.

During this time, I developed my skills, which then allowed me to get my first illustration commission. After I moved to London, I started working in Landscape architecture and growing my illustration career as a freelancer on the side. This gave me the opportunity to develop my style and find clients to work with and experiment with different types of illustration.

Can you explain your creative process? What makes it unique?

I usually start chatting with the client (if it’s a commission) about the project and I try to get to know the person I have in front of me. With this process, I start to picture some images in my mind which I then draft on a piece of paper.

After this, I like to do a bit of online research to clarify some of the ideas I had and fix the sketch in my sketchbook with pen or pencils. When I’m happy with the composition, I start to prepare the black and white sketch on paper or digitally, depending on what I want to achieve and then I work on the coloured version.

How would you describe your style?

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Imaginative, inquisitive, revealing. I started drawing, attempting to help people see something about themself in the work I’m doing. I like to work on a different level of perception to give the audience the opportunity to discover new things in what they see every time they look at the piece. Discovery requires time and you can decide how much time to dedicate to it and you can stop wherever is right for you.

Which individuals do you gain inspiration from? Do you have any heroes in the industry?

There are a lot of very talented individuals in the industry I really appreciate and admire. My influences change from time to time as my work develops, so I am looking for different things in the work I come across. Some of my favourites are Ale Giorgini and Riccardo Guasco for their unique way to tell stories and Malika Fabre for her great use of negative spaces.

What tips would you give to aspiring creatives looking for work?

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I did struggle to find consistent work; I still do have periods where not much is going on. It is frustrating when. You have a lot of queries or interesting project opportunities but suddenly the people interested disappear When this happens, the best approach is to remind myself that I do what I like and that is great!

My advice probably would be to do what you like, don’t make things because they will sell better, or you will find yourself creating work you don’t believe in. If you are consistent and you work for it, work will follow. It’s not easy or fast but I think it is worth it!

What tips would you give to other professionals to get more clients?

Probably social media presence is a good way to show your work and find people interested in your art. That required quite a lot of time and effort, but when people like what you do, they can turn in your clients easily!

What kind of tools/kit/software could you not do without?

Ink and paper and promarker/watercolours are a must, I bring them everywhere with me!

What’s your secret to staying inspired and motivated?

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When I feel like I don’t have any inspiration, I learned not to fight it but just take some time off and go to see something new or meet with some friends to take my mind off things. As soon as the anxiety of the lack of inspiration is replaced with these things, my brain finds the energy and motivation to go on again.

What’s the work achievement you’re most proud of?

The last one! I’m always really excited when I start a new project as I look forward to seeing where it will land. A special space in my heart is taken by the last mural I prepared. It was the first mural of that size I have done, and the subjects were pink flamingos on a dark green wall. The composition colours turned out vibrant and they really made the room a special place.

What is the one thing that you would change about the industry?

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The idea is that creative work is not worth being paid for. Often when people commission a work, they think about the image that is produced without realising the skills and the time that this required and that creates a big difference between the expectation of the value and the actual value

Any websites, books or resources you would recommend?

Here are some of the books I found really useful about art:

‘Steal Like An Artist’ by Austin Kleon it’s a really nice book to read.

‘Point and Line to Plane’  by Wassily Kandinsky.

‘Da cosa nasce cosa’ by Bruno Munari.

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