Mirko is a digital and traditional self-taught artist from Italy. He started painting in his late twenties, without any former art education. He's been learning by himself using online resources since 2018. Now he’s trying to get into the freelance world as an illustrator and general 2D artist. Even though he didn't have a formal art education, his authentic technique and appealing representation styles suggest otherwise.
"I live surrounded by mountains and nature, that’s one of the reasons why I love painting landscapes."
What’s your background? Does it influence your artwork? (childhood, where you live or were raised)
My art journey is a bit atypical, I started painting 3 years ago almost out of the blue. When I was a kid I used to draw, like pretty much everyone does at a young age. It wasn't a big passion, nor was I investing a lot of time in it. In middle school, I pretty much stopped drawing completely, as other hobbies took over.
Nothing changed for many years, until 2018. I remember I was on Youtube and the algorithm, seemingly randomly, suggested to me a video about digital painting. It was one of those “how to paint ...” tutorial videos. Out of curiosity, I watched it all, and in the end, I remember thinking: “...wait, you can learn how to paint? You can learn art!?”
That sounds silly now, but at the time I somehow had this idea that art and talent was some kind of mystical gift, either you had it or you didn't. I didn't consider the idea that you can learn it as pretty much everything else. You can learn everything, including drawing and painting. It all clicked instantly, I knew I wanted to learn and become an artist.
At the time I already had an iPad, so my fastest way to get into digital art was to get an Apple Pencil. I then started watching tutorials and any kind of online resources I was able to put my hands on, and after a few months of studies and practice I bought a cheap drawing tablet and I began to use the PC as my main tool for digital art.
Later on, I also started to paint traditionally, using gouache.
What inspires you?
I was born and raised in a small town in northern Italy. I live surrounded by mountains and nature, that’s one of the reasons why I love painting landscapes. Other things that inspire me are movies and other entertainment media for sure. But also animals, or how the light interacts with objects. Everything, really. That’s why I like to paint a variety of subjects, from portraits to landscape art.
How did you develop your style?
My style is constantly evolving, every new painting I do adds a little bit to it. I also often switch between art styles and workflows, this gives me wildly different results by itself, but I think there’s still a common denominator that ties all of it together. Maybe this will be more visible in the future, but for now, I’m not working toward a unique, specific style.
What is your favorite technique? How do you make your art?
I use a lot of different techniques when I paint, it’s hard to say which one is my favorite. It depends a lot on the project I'm working on, sometimes I paint in a more illustrative way and I fully embrace what the digital medium has to offer: layers, blending modes, selections, and all those things that are strictly digital tools. Other times I like to paint as I do with my gouache paintings, with a more direct approach.
Both ways have their strength, but the latter is usually the one I enjoy the most because sometimes, keeping track of all the layers and other technical aspects of the digital medium can be daunting.
What do you like most about digital art?
Infinite paper and paint! And no brushes to clean after! Hahaha!
One of my favorite things about digital art is the fact that it lets you experiment far more easily and quickly than traditional art. That’s very important for the creative process. However, that can also be a double-edged sword since sometimes you can get overwhelmed by all the possibilities that the digital medium can offer.
The accessibility and ease of use are also great for beginner artists. And the digital medium lets you fail faster, which is one of the quickest ways to learn.
What's your favorite Studio Ghibli movie and why?
Tough question! There are lots of Studio Ghibli movies I love!
The first one I saw was “My Neighbor Totoro” and it will always have a special place in my heart. I recently saw The Wind Rises and I really liked it!
All their movies are filled with incredible-looking backgrounds and attention to detail. Even in the rare case when the story doesn't particularly resonate with me, I’m always blown away by the art.
What have you been listening to while working lately?
When I paint I like to listen to artist’s interviews and art-related podcasts. Fortunately, Youtube is full of this kind of content, so I always have something to listen to. I also enjoy audiobooks.
If I really need to focus I switch to music, the genre ranges quite a lot. My all-time favorite is Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, around 40 minutes during which I’m completely immersed into what I’m doing.
Do you have other hobbies besides painting?
When I was thirteen I started playing the guitar, so music in general is something that was always a part of my life. I also like to watch movies and TV series, that’s where I get a lot of inspiration.
I haven't played that much recently, but video games are still a big passion of mine, and game development is something I’d really like to work on in the future.
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