Studio Dronio is a small collaborative group that features the illustrative and photographic talents of Jacopo Camagni, a talented artist that has been working for Marvel Comics since 2008. And Marco Felicioni (aka B. Bucci – Not to be mistaken with painter ‘Marco Bucci’), a photographer that has worked for the likes of Dolce & Gabbana. Together they make a relatively powerful team and so it’s not a surprise that they’ve released published work, handle numerous online shops, and suport an ever growing fan-base.
1. Could you briefly describe to our readers about the work that you both do, and who you are?
J : I’m Jacopo Camagni. I was born in 1977 in Bologna, Italy. I’m a comic artist and freelance illustrator.
M : Hey, I’m Marco. Born in Modena. I’m 31 years old. I don’t know yet if I’m a writer, an illustrator or a photographer. So in the meanwhile I try to do all of that. I’ll keep you informed. Stay tuned.
2. What kind of Art Education have you both done, if any? And do you think it’s important for an Illustrator or Photographer to pursue some kind of educational qualification? What is your stance on education vs self-teaching?
J : I graduated at the ‘Francesco Arcangeli Art School’ in Bologna, and I immediately started to work after my studies. I think that studying is important for anyone who plans to pursue a career in any field of art; only by studying you can know the basics, or specialize yourself. Obviously you need passion and experimental curiosity: two qualities, which if you don’t have them, it is difficult to rise above the crowd.
M : I was a dweeb. An overachiever student during school. Studying is a pleasure for me. Curiosity is the way I love to approach my life. I think I can be a better person learning something every day: something specific, special, or complicated. If you do one of my jobs, the writer for example, you need to know welsh mythology, some greek etymologies, history of the videogames, weird scary stories, role playing games, irish folklore, Japanese animation. You need to read, learn, organize your information. No matter what you study, the right approach with that is more important.
3. While this is probably an obvious question, why Dronio? Is there a meaning behind the name?
J : Dronio derived from Miss Dronio, a villain from Yattaman, an old japanese anime. When I was young I was in love with her. I love all kinds of bad guys and villains, and when I was fifteen and I needed to choose a nickname for my first email, I chose her name. Since that moment people and friends started to call me Dronio. Indeed, it’s a short and easy to pronounce name (more than Jacopo which is regularly crippled in a lot of bizarre ways, out of Italy), so it became my official pseudonym. Then, when Marco and I met, and started being a team, the name was already known in the industry and on the web. So Marco inherited it and, together, we decided to officialise the idea behind “STUDIO DRONIO”.
M : I couldn’t say more! He has front-man syndrome. If we were a band, he would have been he the singer and I would have been the bassist.
4. It would be silly of us to say that anyone looking at your work wouldn’t be able to recognize noticeable styles with each of your works. But, here’s the dreaded question – What would you both classify your own style as? What process do you go through When creating your work, and what kinds of things get you into the mood of putting together such visually arresting imagery? (For Marco, how do you go about putting your photography together, and for Jacopo how do you start when creating your illustrative works)
J : All my works come into the world starting from a quick, little idea, which can occur in any moment and from anything. Marco usually calls me “The idea juke-box”, because I start to put down ideas for comics and illustrations, e.g. starting from a word that someone told me, which stimulated a visual idea. When we make projects together, it’s more like a tennis match, in which a player starts with the first shot, the other replies, and both contribute to add something or modify the growing artistic idea. It’s a powerful brainstorm, in which the project is widened, improved, sometimes radically modified, and so on.
M : I confirm everything, except when I work on photos. Every concept comes out of a single detail that I love: the Location, for example, or maybe the beard of a guy that I know; an old fencing mask in a dusty street market, or the way how two people kiss each other in front of me. I can turn in a fetishist for that, and I can build the entire project around it.
5. Colour and theme is something that appears quite strong in the imagery of your work. When creating an image, do you both begin with a very determined goal in mind? Or are you both more inclined to see where an image will take you, once started?
J : I rarely realize an illustration or a comic page without a study behind. I love telling stories, even only with a simple image, with the improvement of symbolism, references, and allegories. To do that, I need lot of references, I need to study composition, balance, models (not all my subject are directly part of my imagination). I don’t leave much to chance (people that know me can confirm that! Eheheh!), but at least when it’s time to put the pencil on the paper, I let myself go to extemporary elements.
M : When we start to work for real on a project, the concept has been already fixed, the agenda has already been organized, and all the research has been done. It’s a pity that for people working together the contamination of methods is taken for granted. So, idea after idea, step by step, most of the time we ignore the accuracy and the strictness preferring a free way to create.
6. Aside from art, are there any other activities or interests that you both participate in? Such as music? Sport? What do you do on your down-time when you’re not being uber-busy creatives?
J: We have two things in common: the total absence of passion for sports and heavy works, and absolute passion for Role Play Games. We are both nerds and proud of it.
M: He’s a liar! I just started to work with a bench for weight lifting and dumb-bells. I can be an athletic nerd.
7. Are there any illustrators or designers that you feel influenced by? Perhaps any artists that have affected the practice of your work, or your style? And linking back to your interest in musicians, how does music affect your process of work?
J : There are lots of artists that have inspired me in my 35 years, in a graphical and creative way. Illustrators such as Andrea Accardi, Paul Popo, James Jean, Jamie Hewlett, Eric Canete, Becky Cloonan and Olivier Coipel are my modern reference points of style. Arthur Rackham, Brian Froud, Jim Henson and Tom of Finland are endless Masters that I truly love. Finally, I think I owe some writers, directors and singers, who with their works, have formed and improved my imagination: I think about David Bowie, Joss Whedon, Hayao Myazaki, the Grimm brothers, Holly Black, Anne Rice and many more.
M : Let me add Michael Ende, Neil Gaiman, Tony DiTerlizzi, Angela Carter, Yoshitaka Amano and Clive Barker.
8. We couldn’t end the interview without asking you about your work. Jacopo, you’ve been working for Marvel for a while now, featuring in Spiderman, Ironman, Hulk and a number of other comic publications.. Was this something you’ve always wanted to do? What’s it like working for possibly the biggest comic publishers in the world? And Marco, what was it like working for D&G? Are there any plans to work with them in the future? Or perhaps other people? And have you done work for similar designers that you enjoyed working for?
J : Working for Marvel – I have to admit it – is a goal that I am very proud of. Being chosen by the most important comic editor in the world has is relevance. In a good and a bad way. I had the chance to promote myself abroad, and to work on some of the most iconographic characters of the world of comics, and it’s definitely an extremely positive thing. The downside is that I had a lot of work to do in very short times; I compromised a lot of my contacts with other publishers, because I wasn’t able to satisfy additional demands that arrived in the meantime. So I’ve lost some interesting working chances. In the comic world, unfortunately, you can’t afford to work with only one client, because if you don’t have an exclusive contract, you are always on the risk of unemployment once the relationship with your only client ends.
M : I worked for Dolce & Gabbana in one of their head office in Milan for six months. I have to say that the people were very easy and kind with me. I worked a lot, for many hours daily, in an underground place under the Metropol theatre (the place were they do fashion shows and press presentations). I can’t be a fashion victim or a fashion attached, but I felt very strong connection with the two “heads” of the company. Their approval and sometimes disapproval was very important in my job, for months. Now I work for other important brands like Cavalli, Missoni, or Stella McCartney and the situation is similar. Every artist or stylist are very interested about the product that you made for them. They ask a lot, and I think it’s right. If I were in their shoes I would do the same.
9. Would you be able to share with us any goals you have for the future? Projects that you have planned to do together? Is there anything you’re hoping to make that our readers could look forward to viewing? Perhaps do some name-dropping? And are there any artists or clients you hope to work with/for?
J : We are working together at a lot of different projects (Marco is an excellent photographer, but, above all, is an excellent writer/scripter), but – you know – we are Italians and superstitious, so I prefer saying nothing else. Obviously, I have personal projects and goals that make me dream about future collaborations with personal idols like Neil Gaiman, Holly Black, Joss Whedon or Becky Cloonan, or the chance to work one day for Vertigo or Dark Horse.
M : Indeed! The only thing that I’d like to do by myself is illustrate a child book. Now I’m working a lot with traditional skills like pastels and watercolours. I’m trying to reduce the computer graphic and improve my attention on the paper.
10. A number of our readers are interested in both photography and/or illustration, so it would be silly of us not to ask for your advice. Is there anything you could let our readers know, to help inspire or even to give them tips on how to work within such competitive industries?
J : The main suggestion that I can give to anyone who wants to start a career as a comic artist or illustrator is surely to study and practice a lot. It’s really important to know the editorial world; the people (making PR and being present at fairs and conventions); and the “products” of the publishers to whom they want to propose. Believe a lot in your personal work (without committing the sin of pride) and don’t get mad at any negative feedback. Insist (without becoming a stalker or maniac) and be humble and sympathetic to criticism (be able to recognize our own limits is important), but do not belittle or be duped by false promises.
M : The professional photography world is all about taste and technique. Nothing else. In some case they ask you to use more taste, sometimes they ask you to be more technical. Sometimes, the subject is hard to catch, some other times the situation on the set is the hardest to manage. Fashion photography, or industrial photography in general, is not as glamorous or as creative as what you see in a TV series or in the movies. Forget the camera in hand and the cocktail in the other. It’s all about diligence, steadiness and endurance. Photography School or Courses can help the amateurs but only if they are not only theorethical, and share professional equipment that you can use and understand properly. Forget shooting in automatic mode, you need to control the photography and stop trusting in the camera.
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