For anyone following the murky currents of horror movies, weird fiction and dark comics, Daniele Serra is becoming a household name. Slowly but surely, serra has managed to work in all the major genre publications, and collaborate with some of its great creators. Daniele Serra is now becoming a horror institution himself.
His works are so distinct, you can tell them a mile away; soft water colours create striking chilling images; darkness spreads on the canvasses, as if the entire world depicted is submerged in some sorrowful opioid dream, We caught up with him for a short interview about his work and collaborations.
I was born and live in Italy, in Sardinia to be precise, a beautiful island. I am 40 years old and I live with a beautiful wife and three cats . For 10 years I have been working full time as an illustrator and cartoonist. I have always loved to draw since I was a child so I am happy I managed to make my work my passion.
Was there a special instance you can recall that made you realise you wanted to be an Artist? Was Comics your first choice or did you slowly move into that direction?
I think there was a moment in my childhood. It was when my father brought home some art books about the great painters of the past. I was reading their biographies and looking at their paintings and dreamed I could one day become an artist myself. I don’t consider myself an artist at the moment, but an illustrator who tries to do his best to become a true artist one day . For me, comics and illustration have always moved in parallel. I loved everything related to figurative art from early on, so I can say that since I was a child I wanted to draw both comics and illustrate. during adolescence I read a lot of comics that influenced my style and my approach to drawing , in some ways I think I owe a lot to the comic even if I think I am at my best as an illustrator.
Your visual style is extremely distinct. I know of almost nobody in this field who works in watercolours. What are you influences. how did you reach your distinct style?
I was influenced a lot by the comic painting current of the 80s and 90s and George Pratt, Muth, Miller, Mignola are some names that have been fundamental in my artistic career. To the watercolours I arrived by chance, one Christmas my wife thought to give me a set of watercolours. I never worked with them before. I used to work with china and oil painting. I started experimenting without knowledge of the classic method of using watercolour, so I applied my knowledge of oil painting, little by little came out this style that presents a lot of black. I use very little water, so it’s not classic watercolour style.
In OUTSIDE you teamed up with Joe R Lansdale. and not for the first time. How did you guys start working together? at first glance, looking at your visuals and reading Lansdale’s text, I didn’t think it would be a natural mix. why is it you think you guys fit so well together?
I had the pleasure of meeting Lansdale a few years ago when he was on tour in Italy (where he is loved so much) and so came out the idea of a collaboration with the book “I tell you it’s love”. It was an experiment because it was a challenge to combine our styles and I must say that I have always been satisfied with our collaborations. I think that a love for the dark and strong feelings unites us. I try to be as emotional as possible in my works, often at the expense of form and this visceralness, I think, unites us and makes our work work. Also, working with Joe is always a great pleasure and honour, it seems to me always a dream to have made projects together because he is a writer that I have always loved.
Joe R. Lansdale His own self
Clive Barker at his studio
Could you tell us a bit about how it is working with Clive Barker? Beside being a writer he is also an accomplished visual artist. Are his demands different?
It is absolutely fantastic. Precisely because he is a visual artist he understands the problems and has an approach to collaboration that allows me to give the best as well as the fact that leaves me free to interpret his characters with my style. I think that the greatness of these writers with whom I have the honour of working is their ability to collaborate, leaving room for the creativity without losing sight of the ultimate goal.
You and your work have become very famous. Does that help your process, strain it… or is it inconsequential?
I have always tried to do my job better regardless of whether it was loved by 1 or 100 people, I still feel very far from what I would like to get in my drawings, so I am very focused on it and less on what surrounds me because I want to avoid it influencing me too much. I always try to make sure that I like my works first of all. As a result I am very happy and gratified by the attention that is around me, at the same time I try to make sure that my choices and my work are not influenced by it.
Could tell us of a fantasy project you wish you would get to do? you can be as over the top as you wish?
One of my dreams is working on a story by ETA Hoffmann and doing a very obscure graphic novel of Batman.
The Boy Who Turned Invisible by Daniele Serra and Joe R Lansdale in O U T S I D E An Anthology