Ferdinando Fontana - How Art is Made
Ever wondered how real art is made? Our creative agent Potsuki caught up with artist Ferdinando Fontana to discuss his work, sources of inspiration, his thoughts on today's contemporary art and advice emerging artists.
Ferdinando Fontana is a prolific visual artist, growing up in Italy and London. Educated at Central St. Martins, his art focuses on the medium of sketching, painting and model making.
You started your career in your teens, what inspired you to start drawing?
According to my mother, I first started drawing when I was three years of age. Unfortunately I tended to draw on the walls of my house so I guess I started life as an unintentional graffiti vandal.
Your art work spans beautifully sculptures and models to intricate drawings. What's your "creative process" for completing a piece of work?
The urge to create art can come at any time, whether the sun is shining and the rain is pouring one must be ready for it. I have found sculpture to be the ideal medium for an artist to depict three dimensional objects: one can walk around the actual work, observe it from a myriad different angles and, in the most part, the artist has succeeded in conveying his/her message quite effectively. This is not always the case with two dimensional depictions of volume and mass. But the beauty of two dimensional art is the ease with which the play of light and shadow can be rendered.
Do you have preferred medium for working in?
No. I work with whatever I feel comfortable with, whether it is pencil, brush, or even sculpture which I find quite relaxing. Maybe we ought to be discussing how messy it often gets with different media. The difficulty always is, well, what do you now do with the finished piece? What is the best way to protect it?
Storage is currently an issue for me as there is the hardy-perennial shortage of space situation that needs to be addressed. That is why I have to be pragmatic as far as size and technique used, and both need to be tailored to current needs such as storage and preservation.
What inspires you to create?
All I have to do is take a look around in order for me to find inspiration. It comes from all quarters, whether I’m on a bus, a train, a café or in the park.
What are your thoughts on contemporary art, any particular artists that have caught your attention?
The first name that comes to my head is Des Taylor. He is a fabulously talented artist and animator with a pretty nifty concoction of depicting well-known characters in pulpy, anime-like situations that many find astonishing. And I am agog at his ability to make it all seem so effortless when in fact I know the reverse is actually true.
What are your influences?
Apart from watching life go about its business around me, I remain in awe of Hellenistic sculpture and how the ancient Greeks were able to hold the mirror up to nature so successfully and accurately - thousands of years before the likes of Michelangelo finally came on the scene. I find that fact a constant source of amazement.
The Romans were happy to replicate what had been done before by the ancient Greeks. Similarly, the artists of the Italian Renaissance chose to go back to the same roots for their inspiration. The Victorians too were in awe of the ancient Greeks because of their respect for human anatomy and ability to render it accurately in a three dimensional medium, an ability which remains unsurpassed to this day
"According to my mother, I first started drawing when I was three years of age. Unfortunately I tended to draw on the walls of my house so I guess I started life as an unintentional graffiti vandal."
For more information on Ferdinando Fontana, contact the Creative Management Team.
Follow Potsuki, 8th Wonder Creative Agent.
We hear you are a comic fan, what are your favourite comic artists?
I left the field of comics soon after I finished college as I found it hard to keep up with the medium! But I grew up not so much reading comics as much as looking at the drawings.
I am a firm believer that the likes of Hollywood are still a good 30 years behind what comics did first and are currently playing catch up with the medium. I now realise comic book artists probably reached their pinnacle in the mid-seventies – a period that is commonly referred to as the Bronze Age of comics.
A favourite name comes to mind: John Buscema, an Italian/American artist who was passionate about the figure and composition. He claimed to hate working in the comic business but he had a family to feed and a mortgage to pay so he was being pragmatic and used his gifts in a sensible way. Still, you couldn’t tell he hated drawing comics if you were to look at all the wonderful work he left behind. When he passed away, he requested he be buried with his favourite pen in his hand. How is that for a romantic?
If you were stranded on a desert island what would be the 3 things you would take with you?
Here’s where the more pragmatic side of me kicks into gear. A nylon net, a metal bucket and a Swiss army knife. It's the typical survival of the fittest scenario.
Desert island or not, there are bound to be objects that need to be cut down to size and shaped in order to make firewood or to create ornaments for decorating purposes. As well as a makeshift hut. And I once created a fire with a knife and a piece of flint so I am on familiar territory here. A marine diet will keep castaways from starving and a metal bucket will catch any rainwater and serve as a cooking utensil until a rescue vessel comes into view.
What pieces of work are you working on presently?
I’m literally in the middle of creating a series of graphite pieces some of which can currently be seen in my profile. This series is intended to highlight sculptures that have caught my eye and which, again, are works that – however ancient or recent they might be - showcase a mastery of the human and animal form and which are successful in their accurate depictions of anatomy and of movement. In addition to that, I am particularly interested in works that use the play of shadow and light and which imbue the figure with a sense of drama.
Why did you choose 8th Wonder Creatives to represent you?
8th Wonder Creatives is a phenomenal organisation populated by passionate, professional and very supportive individuals with a unique vision when it comes to nurturing artists and providing the best platform where others in the whole wide world can be made aware of what you are capable of as a creative. So it wasn’t that much of a difficult choice at all for me to make and I am extremely grateful to them for their efforts.
What advice would you give any up and coming artists?
My advice would be: do as much life-drawing as humanly possible or as circumstances will allow you. There really is no substitute for that. Secondly: make it a habit to visit museums and galleries. London is a treasure trove of images and sculptures so what better way to grow as a creative whilst one is surrounded by so much wonderful inspiring work that is free to access and admire at such close quarters?
And last but not least: observe the hustle and bustle of a vibrant city such as London whilst its inhabitants rush all around you as they try to get from A to B. It is never less than a delight to observe the many shapes and features in perpetual motion, and much can be gained from doing just that.
Ferdinando Fontana - Tuition for Manga/Anime (2012)
Ferdinando Fontana - Jali Sphere model (2013), Leighton House Museum, London