I’ve always been fantasizing about an optimistic race in a faraway galaxy where history followed a different path and everything went smoothly. It seems that people in this place survived cold wars or global warming, and slowly began to cultivate the concept of ‘Beauty.’ They became an advanced civilization mastering top-notch cosmetic surgery applied to human beings as well as robots. I’m always been fond of dystopian universes, Blade Runner, the cyberpunk movement, yet starships are not necessarily to be rusted, torn by battles, in bad shape. They could be intelligent, made of glass and titanium, pink or pure white … About mankind, beauty is an abstract concept we are used to understand and appreciate around us. Our genome has already been journeying toward this direction and beauty is just one of the many natural instruments working in an ongoing process of competition and selection…
You do a lot of commission work for book covers and magazines. How do you go about interpreting the work, choosing the elements of the story that you want to illustrate?
Usually I receive the manuscript to be illustrated from the publisher via email, then I upload it on my iPad spending a lot of time highlighting the most interesting passages, putting down ideas, sketching the first concepts on my workstation … or on paper! The world turned digital some years ago, but I like to be in touch with pencils and paper during the preparatory phase. A few strolls in the lush woods surrounding my studio help definitely! In a short time, after one or two days, I feel a click inside, a door opens in the sky and I enter the world of the writer while images and ideas keep flowing in front of my eyes from “nowhere.” I skip unessential elements, focusing on scenes conveying that feeling of sense-of-wonder which captured my soul when I was young. It’s rewarding to see an initial concept unfurling its wings, morphing in a captivating and smart solution.
Are there any subjects you’d like to take on but haven’t had the chance to yet?
Yes, everything! From a fantastic nano-tech creature hidden in a drop of rain to a sparkling metropolis large as a Jovian planet. I like to experiment and try new things. My range of interests covers anything could stimulate my thirst for knowledge, my curiosity for our terrestrial adventure. More than money, our most valuable asset is time … really hope someone may discover the secret of immortality, before I turn eighty!
Your work is recognized internationally. Has working in the genre field taken you anywhere you might not otherwise have gone?
I was born as an avid reader of science fiction and fantasy, and at the same time a lover of fantastic and surreal art. As a teenager, I was already a subscriber of Asimov’s magazine dreaming one day to illustrate those stories and environments from the literature of ideas I loved so much. I should say my passion for the genre brought me exactly where I wished to be. In a review on the Spectrum website about my recent volume The Art of Maurizio Manzieri published in 2009 by Vittorio Pavesio Productions, Arnie Fenner defines me an international man of mystery. The reason is I’ve been mostly administering my business from Italy, attending only national and European conventions. It should be time to climb on a flying object and meet more often all the friends and professionals overseas I’ve been in touch along these years!
Of your many professional accomplishments, which would you say has meant the most to you, and why?
It’s difficult to say. There are so many anecdotes I’ve collected along my career, pleasant memories, friendships, projects side by side with writers, exhibits, acknowledgements … the biggest accomplishment has been let my art grow as a living entity and speak up to the world.
What are you working on now?
This fall two new series of illustrations for Subterranean Press will hit the market. I’ve got on the tarmac a production of at least seventeen illos for a couple of beautiful and limited editions: Indomitable by Terry Brooks and Empire of Ivory by Naomi Novik. I’m the illustrator for the current issue of F&SF (July/August) … then for the September issue of Asimov’s! There are works just published or coming out for Prime Books, Infinivox, the French Bragelonne, and others. It has been a busy year as a cover artist! In the gaps between the various assignments I’ll be working of course on snapshots from my own faraway galaxy!
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