by Lorraine D. Cork
Roberto Vetrano speaking at the Leo la Superstar! book launch
on December 17th 2022 at the Libreria Del Mare, Palermo
Either you have a natural talent for art or you don’t. You simply can’t buy such a talent no matter how much money you have. But what I mean by ‘natural talent’ is this: someone who is able to quickly and effortlessly sketch something so amazing that it looks as though they’ve spent hours and hours perfecting it. Just like Roberto Vetrano, an artist from Palermo in Sicily, who produced the most wonderful illustrations for my second book Leo la Superstar! (Leo the Superstar!)
As soon as I saw Roberto’s humorous and colourful sketches, I knew that, without a doubt, he was the gifted artist I had been looking for. He understood what I wanted straightaway, and having that immediate understanding is so important to me. You see, I have always believed that a writer and an artist should go hand-in-hand and that an artist should be an extension of the writer, transforming all of the writer’s words and thoughts into reality. Whilst at the same time, the writer should always allow the artist to have his or hers own freedom of expression.
During my time with Roberto, I became very curious about his life. Who was the person behind his self-portrait caricature? Was he happy being an artist? When did he realise how talented he was? What were his ambitions in life? I decided, that when the time was right, I would ask him all of these questions and more.
So now, without further ado please meet…Roberto Vetrano!
Lorraine: Hi Roberto, thank you for taking the time to speak to me.
Roberto: Hi Lorraine, it’s a real pleasure!
Lorraine: So, I’ll get straight to the point. Are you happy being an artist? What does ‘Art’ mean to you?
Roberto: Yes, it’s something that makes me so happy and proud. In my opinion, Art is always something that is able to transmit messages, sensations and emotions: it’s a way of communicating. And I love being able to communicate myself through my drawings!
Lorraine: Have you always wanted to be an artist? When did you realise that you were so talented?
Roberto: I’ve been drawing since I was little, but I never thought that I would be a professional artist. I first realised that I had real potential when people “of the trade” pointed out that I should really invest in my artistic talent!
Lorraine: How would you describe your artistic style?
Roberto: When I draw for children, I like to maintain a cheerful and colourful style, allowing the characters to “speak” through their expressions and gestures, but when I draw for others, I like to draw in a more realistic way.
Lorraine: Who are your artistic influences?
Roberto: I like many artists, but I wouldn’t be able to point to any one in particular who influenced me more than another. It intrigues me when I observe a bit of everything and thus form (often unconsciously) my “baggage” of stimuli, which is then translated into my drawings!
Lorraine: How would you describe yourself and how similar are you to your self-portrait caricature?
Roberto: I’m a rather serene and happy person most of the time, and I have tried to apply these same characteristics to my self-portrait too!
A self-portrait caricature of Roberto Vetrano
Lorraine: When is your favourite time of the day to create?
Roberto: Whenever possible. I really like working at night, when I know I will have quite a few hours without any disturbance from the outside world and then along with some music in my headphones, I totally immerse myself into the “mood” I prefer!
Lorraine: What would you do if you weren’t an artist?
Roberto: I am a huge fan of cars and vehicles in general, so it is likely that I would have done something related to this field. As a child I even wanted to be a truck driver!
Lorraine: Does your city and its people inspire your creativity?
Roberto: I would say…yes! Palermo is a lively city that is rich in art and history on every corner, and there are certain views that look like paintings, not forgetting the warm and enthusiastic personalities of the inhabitants that inspire you to create multiple characters for thousands of stories! Of course this discussion also applies to the whole of Sicily which a continuous source of inspiration to me!
Lorraine: Did you enjoy doing the illustrations for Leo la Superstar? And why?
Roberto: I loved it! Firstly, because the characters were so nice and it was such fun having to imagine them all, but also because I love the beach: it’s one of my favourite places and so it’s really nice to be able to have the opportunity to draw it!
Roberto Vetrano working on the illustrations for
Leo la Superstar! (Leo the Superstar!)
Lorraine: Do you have any advice for any aspiring artists out there?
Roberto: My advice is simply: always draw in the way that your heart guides you and always draw with the sense of freedom that drawing can give. Don’t force yourself to try and achieve immediate results…as that will come over time, with the right amount of practice and discipline!
Lorraine: What are your ambitions for the future?
Roberto: I would simply like to carry on being an illustrator and to draw in peace and maybe teach others to draw too!
Lorraine: Thank you Roberto. It was lovely to talk to you and lovely to work with you. Good luck for the future!
Roberto: Thanks Lorraine. It was also a great pleasure for me to be able to talk about it and above all to do the pictures for your book!
If you would like to know more about Roberto Vetrano, go to his Facebook
page: Roberto Vetrano Art, or his Instagram page: @robertovetranoart