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Interview with Freelance Illustrator: Eleonora Mignoli

Updated: Aug 25, 2020

I met Eleonora by networking through Twitter's #WritingCommunity. She generously hosted a competition to illustrate an author's character and I was the lucky winner! Here is the amazing portrait of my antagonist, Lord Silverton! It captures his repulsiveness divinely well!

Artwork credit: Eleonora Mignoli | Author credit: "Discerning Grace" by Emma Lombard

Why did you become an illustrator?

I have been drawing since I remember. Half of my pictures as a toddler are of me holding crayons or pencils, and I would always be sketching in class instead of taking notes - thankfully, I had classmates that would let me copy theirs! I formalised my training by getting a Degree in Painting from the Albertina Art Academy in Turin.

Artwork credit: Eleonora Mignoli | Oil on canvas, copy of Fumée d'Amber Gris

How did you find your style? Has it changed since you started?

I grew up reading manga and surrounded by books on classical Italian painters, so those two styles have been a significant influence. My style hasn’t changed much since I started, but my work varies a lot according to the medium. My oil paintings are quite different from my digital illustrations.

Artwork credit: Eleonora Mignoli | Oil on wood, "Glass Ruff'

What does your typical work week look like?

My main job is writing, so I spend my days typing on a keyboard, and then I draw during the evenings or at the weekends.

Artwork credit: Eleonora Mignoli | Digital illustration, original concept, "Deer in the forest"

What five things can’t you live without during your working process?

Since I started working on an iPad Pro, I’ve been drawing twice as much as before. It’s simply too convenient. References are also essential, especially when it comes to period clothing (I love Pinterest). However, when it comes to painting, I’m quite fussy. I can’t work without overalls  - I tend to make a mess - and I need a dedicated space where I can feel free of drip paint everywhere. Also, lots of brushes, so I can have a brush for every colour.

Artwork credit: Eleonora Mignoli | Author credit: "The Fires of Treason" by Michele Quirke

What has been your most successful illustration project? Why?

I’ve had the honour of creating 21 illustrations for the book “Il Numero Uno”. It received a nomination at the Prize ‘Italo Calvino’ and was positively reviewed by literary magazines in Italy.

Artwork credit: Eleonora Mignoli | Author credit: “Il numero uno” by Michele Lancione

What kind of illustration projects are you most interested in taking on?

The more creative, the better! But I have to say, I absolutely love drawing original characters for writers.

Artwork credit: Eleonora Mignoli | Author credit: "Saint & Sinners" by Crystal L Kirkham

What’s your number one art tip?

Practice, practice, practice. Oh, did I mention it? Practice.

Artwork credit: Eleonora Mignoli | Character creation credit: Ether Schooner

Do you ever experience creative slumps? How do you overcome them?

Luckily for me, no, I've never experienced the blank page syndrome. Sometimes I'm frustrated because the final result is not exactly what I had in mind, but in that case, it's just a matter of working harder next time.

Artwork credit: Eleonora Mignoli | Fan art, digital image, iPad Pro

What is the best part of your job?

Going back and looking at what I've done and thinking, "It's not such an utter disaster".

Artwork credit: Eleonora Mignoli | Character credit: Eleonora Mignoli "Queen of tears and saffron"

Any future plans or dreams on the horizon you can share with us?

Illustration wise, I hope to be able to receive more original characters' commissions, as it's the thing I enjoy the most. Painting wise, I have a lovely studio/shed my husband has built for me, which I hope to inaugurate soon.

Artwork credit: Eleonora Mignoli | Author credit: Patty Papageorgiou

What advice would you give to someone just starting out as a freelance illustrator?

Quality over quantity. Work hard to find your style: being recognizable is the key to success.

Artwork credit: Eleonora Mignoli | Original character digital illustration, iPad Pro

Eleonora Mignoli is a UK-based writer/director. Her screenplays rank in prestigious UK and international competitions, including Austin Film Festival, Sir Peter Ustinov and Nicholl Fellowship.

DUSK, her feature dystopian drama, has been optioned by production company Old Hall Films, and is in the development stage. For her work as illustrator, check her profile at ArtStation. Follow Eleanora on Twitter.


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