Donato Giancola

The fine artist on sell­ing his first draw­ing at the age of 14, and the prob­lem with glob­al­i­sa­tion

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What art-re­lated event changed ev­ery­thing for you as a child? Watch­ing Star Wars for the first time at a lo­cal drive-in. Lit­tle did I know how strongly that movie would res­onate with me as a young boy. I can’t think of a more per­fect movie to have watched as an in­spired ten year-old. I still get chills when I hear John Wil­liams’ open­ing re­frain – that’s pow­er­ful stuff to tap into as an artist. Tell us about the one per­son who helped you on your way? At 19 I en­rolled in a draw­ing class – my first for­mal art train­ing. I en­joyed the chal­lenges the teacher, Chris Camp­bell, placed upon us. She saw my pas­sion and po­ten­tial, and rec­om­mended that I ‘go some­where else’ to study art more se­ri­ously. Chris’s ad­vice re­sulted in a trans­fer into Syracuse Univer­sity two years later, where I blos­somed as an artist, and built my con­fi­dence to then move to New York City, where I still live.

What was your first paid com­mis­sion? It was a draw­ing in­spired by The Lord of the Rings. I was 14 and show­ing my friend Tony an im­age of a ring wraith I’d just fin­ished. Tony’s mum was a fan­tasy reader and picked up the draw­ing for $5!

What’s the last piece that you fin­ished? My lat­est works have in­cluded 12 im­ages for the 2015 Ge­orge RR Martin Cal­en­dar for A Song of Ice and Fire. The fi­nal piece, Forg­ing the Iron Throne, was de­liv­ered in early March. Ge­orge has been won­der­fully sup­port­ive, giv­ing me free­dom to in­ter­pret his vi­sions. What’s changed in the in­dus­try of fan­tasy art the most in the 20 years that you’ve been work­ing in it? As much as you may be tired of hear­ing it, the in­ter­net is the great­est change – from how we shop for art sup­plies, to re­search con­tent, to advertise our work. Imag­ine back when you emp­tied a tube of paint: you had to leave the stu­dio and go find one out in the real world, like some pri­mate look­ing for food. Now you press a few im­ages on a glass screen and it shows up the next day at your doorstep. Magic! And most im­por­tantly, no time is lost from the stu­dio work hours.

The plea­sure of cre­ation is enough to keep me happy and ea­ger for the day to be­gin

When did you be­come a teacher of art, and what’s the most im­por­tant thing that you’ve ever taught some­one? I first be­gan to lead classes a few years out of col­lege – what a dis­as­ter! I was too young and in­ex­pe­ri­enced to truly teach the stu­dents in at­ten­dance. I be­gan to teach prop­erly about six years ago, af­ter spend­ing count­less hours pre­sent­ing, lec­tur­ing and demon­strat­ing my art at con­ven­tions. A decade re­fin­ing the var­i­ous as­pects of my skills, busi­ness and ma­tu­rity as an artist en­abled me to more ef­fec­tively share what I had learned with oth­ers. The most im­por­tant is­sue I stress in be­com­ing an artist is to be pro­lific – keep mak­ing the art. It’s through this process that an artist will find their au­di­ence, and their voice, in what they wish to pas­sion­ately cre­ate. What ad­vice would you give to your younger self to aid you on the way? Take more chances. Shoot higher for your dreams.

What are your paint­ing rit­u­als? Wake up and hit the stu­dio! I don’t need any rit­u­als to be mo­ti­vated to cre­ate art. The plea­sure of cre­ation is enough to keep me happy, in­spired, and ea­ger for the day to be­gin, and re­gret­ful as the sun sets that there’s not more day­light, be­cause I work in a nat­u­ral light set­ting. If there are any rit­u­als to my labours, it’s the plea­sure taken in lay­ing out a new pal­ette, or the con­tem­pla­tive as­sess­ment of the art at the end of the day as I wash my brushes and close down the stu­dio. What sucks about the il­lus­tra­tion in­dus­try right now? What sucks is also a boon. The in­dus­try is huge, mas­sive, global! Need an artist for a com­mis­sion? Which coun­try would you like to hire them from? Com­pe­ti­tion in the commercial field reaches far be­yond ge­o­graph­i­cal and lan­guage bar­ri­ers – there are thou­sands of artists to choose from. The flip side of that is the po­ten­tial is nearly lim­it­less in re­gards to the worldly in­flu­ence, pop­u­lar­ity and busi­ness deal­ings an in­ter­na­tional mar­ket can of­fer. Be­ing savvy to what’s hap­pen­ing in the mar­ket­place is smart busi­ness for a free­lance artist. Reach out, advertise and share your art, and oth­ers will find you and sup­port you. For good and bad, it’s now the world we live in. Visit www.do­na­toart.com to see more of Donato’s sci-fi and fan­tasy art

A Song Of Ice And Fi re The cover for the re­cently re­leased Ge­orge RR Martin cal­en­dar 2014.

Boba Fett and Han Solo Pen­cil and marker from 1982 – an­other

old art piece from my early days.

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