Italian illustrator Riccardo Federici gives us an in-depth look at what it means to be a comic book artist in Europe, talking “A Day in the Life”, “Art and Technique”, and more!
Art by Riccardo Federici: Varient cover for Batman Superman #10, DC Comics
Riccardo Federici is an Italian illustrator and comic book artist born in Rome. Federici was the first comic strip artist to be featured at the Roma Biennale (one of the biggest art shows in the world) alongside some of the world’s greatest contemporary painters and photographers. Federici has drawn for Marvel Comics, DC Comics, DC Vertigo, DC Collectables, Blizzard Entertainment, XM Studios and Editions Delcourt (Saria). Federici is also a painter, a sculptor, and occasionally, a professor.
Segment 1: A Day In The Life
Art by Riccardo Federici
How many years have you been drawing professionally now?
I started to draw professionally (almost by chance) in 2005, in the French-Belgian comic market, for a two-issue book called "La Madone de Pellini" scripted by François Rivière, edited by Robert Laffont, and later by Editions Delcourt. In the French market I have always made everything by myself (except the script) from the storyboards to the color and cover. Before 2005, for about 8 years, I hardly touched the pencil: I was thinking about everything except drawing!
Art by Riccardo Federici: Work in progress of Saria #3, Editions Delcourt
Your work is extremely detailed- how long does it take you on average to completely finish one page of comic?
If we’re talking about comics for the US market, I do on average one black and white page per day (8/10 hours), Unfortunately I only have 5 weeks to make a 24-page comic.
I see you have a drum kit in your studio. Do you play for fun? Does it help you relax in between drawing? Or is there some other advantage to it for an artist?
YEAH!!!!! I’m a drummer… I quit this fantastic instrument for a few years, but I’ve since started again! I love music (I like almost
everything but especially Metal!). Playing and studying the drums helps me get distracted and have fun!
What does your average work day look like for you? How many hours a day do you draw? Do you get to take many breaks? And if so, what do you do for them?
It depends on the type of work I have to do (color illustrations, color or black and white comic pages, concept design...). There is no real answer for this. As I said earlier for black and white comic pages I work about 8/10 hours a day. Obviously I take several breaks- when I’m done with work, I dedicate myself to my family and a little bit to playing drums or weight training (years ago I also did horse riding).
What’s the hardest thing about working on comic books?
To reconcile the needs of the publishing market with what you would like to do! AHAHAH!
Art by Riccardo Federici
On the flipside, what’s the best thing about working on comic books?
To create and tell!
What’s the most difficult project you’ve ever completed?
I cannot say that one project is more difficult than another. Each project has its own characteristics and needs. I think the most important thing for an artist is to understand the needs of a project and adapt to them. The work team is also important: editor, screenwriter and the various artists must be collaborative. Constructive confrontation, respect and trust allow you to have good ideas and make a good product.
Do you have a favourite project you’ve worked on?
I am very fond of the "Saria" saga for two reasons: 1. Because I had maximum freedom (I inserted many new scenes and characters, so I thank the screenwriter Jean Dufaux and the publisher Editions Delcourt because they were confident in my ideas) and 2. Because I drew and painted (I love to paint). My current job for DC comics is also really thrilling me: I'm talking about The Last God. In this project I was able to work both as a concept artist and artist of the internal pages. I would have liked to have also done the covers (I only did the variant cover of the first issue), and the color of the inside pages but the timing did not allow me. The Last God is what I call beautiful teamwork. The team is really great because everyone is collaborative.
Art by Riccardo Federici: The Last God#1, Variant Cover, DC Black Label
What can you tell us about Saria? Is this a creator-owned project and if so, how much input do you have in the story process? Where can we get a copy?
Saria is a graphic novel that is published by Editions Delcourt, a French publisher. The story is written by a Belgian screenwriter, Jean Dufaux, and is set in Venice in Italy in an era that is not exactly defined (though it takes its cue from 1600 AD). It's a three-volume saga with a little bit of fantasy, a little of steampunk and a little of esotericism. The first volume is designed by the great Paolo Eleuteri Serpieri, while I made the color-
Art by Riccardo Federici: Cover of Saria#3,
-covers of all three volumes, and illustrated and colored the internal pages of the second and third volumes. I also made a color cover for a special collection that will be released together with the third volume in January 2021. Saria was a great adventure for me and I was very lucky because both the publisher and the screenwriter gave me maximum freedom of interpretation both in regards to the direction, the setting design, and the characters. A lot of secondary characters weren't described in the script and I included them of my own free will. For now there is no English language version of Saria, but you can buy it online through various sites in French, Dutch and Italian.
Coming next week...Segment 2! Riccardo talks Career and the European Comic Scene!
Visit Riccardo’s profile on https://www.artstation.com/riccardofederici/profile
Follow Riccardo on instagram at https://www.instagram.com/riccardo_federici_art/