Artist Interviews 2022

Toni Demuro  
By Julia Siedenburg

Toni Demuro’s work entranced me the moment I saw it. His illustrations are full of mystery yet all inspired by real themes. Every series of his takes you on a fantastical journey to places that the artist himself would like to experience. And I am not afraid to share that when I look at these images I do myself want to get to know these characters and follow them into their beautiful world. I hope you will feel similar when you learn more about this great artist, dear reader.

What does creating your illustrations make you feel?

I don't go in search of the idea, as the hunter does with his prey. I wait for the idea to arrive by itself, and when it arrives it's the same wonder I feel when a bird lands on my windowsill.

Your beautifully crafted, almost abstract images have something magical, and mystical to them. How did you start out as an illustrator and how did you get to where you are today?

I started doing illustrations when I was studying painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in my city, but just for fun. It took me ten years to decide that this would be my path. But instead of following the path that almost all my colleagues follow, i.e. attending illustration schools, internships, or workshops, rather than participating in trade fairs to make myself known, I took an all-uphill road: I opened a blog and published an illustration every day on the theme of trees, after a year I started publishing the illustrations also on Facebook and then on Instagram, I can't deny that the social channels have given me a lot of visibility, from that moment I received the first job offers, and it was a growing up to this day that I can say I live thanks to illustration.

What is your process like? How long does it take for you to finish one image?

When I have an idea, I make a few pencil sketches in a notebook, the time required to create the illustration is quite short, as I work digitally, but it depends a lot on the complexity of the image, and I'm not talking about the number of details (my images are rather minimal) but the right balance between composition, color, and emotion. Sometimes I take 30 minutes, sometimes 3 hours.

Your illustrations are very much focused on nature, animals, and humans. How does your life in Italy inspire your work? Do you think the artist’s surroundings generally influence their art?

For many artists it is like that, they represent their surroundings. I paint places where I would like to live, and emotions I would like to experience.

What first caught my attention was your Birdland series. I adore the bird character finding itself at all these beautifully drawn locations. Where did your inspiration for that come from? Can you please explain the idea behind the black and white figure inside the bird silhouettes that also appears in some of your Dream series images again?

Bird men represent the future of humanity, their ambition to have more than what nature has given them, the ability to fly, this has made them similar to birds in appearance, but unable to fly. In some of these images, I have inserted the silhouette of a man whose head coincides with the bird's eye, to highlight the symbiosis between the two figures.

Which of your series is your favorite and why?

Perhaps my favorite series is "Soul desert", an introspective journey, which does not want to convey a particular message, they are images that concern my person, my intimacy, my emotions, they are personal stories that I share but I do not want to reveal. The desert inhabits our soul, and however much we walk, we cannot get away from ourselves.

One of your more recent images is a powerful illustration dedicated to the current Iran protest of women that started due to the murder of Mahsa Amini. How much power does art have and what would the world be without art, in your opinion?

I honestly don't believe that art has the power to stop injustice and wickedness, but I think it can scratch certain walls and let some light pass through the darkness. Without art the world would have a flat and unambiguous vision of reality, I cannot imagine humanity orphaned by creativity, amazement and beauty.

Can you please explain to our readers what Giclée Hahnemühle German Etching is and why you chose to use this paper for your illustrations in particular?

In reality this is the paper that was recommended to me by my printer, it is a support that best enhances my illustrations.

Your work has already been featured in a few magazines such as Cercle Magazine and is available to be viewed on your website, and Instagram as well as t also on the platform Behance. Is it hard to promote and sell yourself as an Illustrator?

I don't do much to promote myself, I post my works on social media and nothing else, this results in interest from potential clients and allows me to work. I'm not good at selling myself, I'm a bit shy, I don't participate in events and I always put my works in front of myself. I think this is counterproductive but I can't help it, it's a choice dictated by character.

What is next for you? Do you have any new series planned?

I don't have new series planned, lately I've been working with more freedom, often new images are added to the old series, such as "trees", "souldesert" or "birdland" but I don't exclude that on the eve of the new year there could be some surprises.

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