Drawing makes her free, and she believes that the real world is even more surreal than anything we can imagine. We talk with Italian artist Daniela Tieni so she can tell us more about her creations, full of detailed pieces taken from her deepest imagination – the way she expresses the world as she inhabits it. Freedom behind each stroke.
Many of your drawings seem taken from the wonderland of Alice. Where does this fantastic and mysterious imaginary come from?
I can’t tell with precision. When I started my career in this profession, I tried to change what surrounded me by drawing, adding surreal details, changing the proportions of the characters and objects. It seemed interesting to create a world of my own. After all, the drawing makes you free. There are images and readings intrinsic within me that have contributed to this. Now I continue to play with reality, but I'm more interested in looking deeply at the world as it is, because it presents countless starting points.
Some of your works have also reminded me of Magritte’s paintings, because of this strong blend between the real world and the dreamt one. Who would you say are your main influences?
I have many masters, there’s an unreachable list. But I understand the power of art from them every time. I love Louise Bourgeoise, the medieval painting, Félix Vallotton, Carver or Luigi Ghirri, just to name a few.
The Polaroids is one of your works in which the connection between the two worlds –real and oneiric one– is more palpable: in them, you draw imagined elements on real photographs. How do you think these two worlds are connected to each other? How do you experience each one?
I believe that the real world is even crazier than the world we can imagine. When I look at what nature can do, for example, is hard for me to believe that perfection is real, the incredible shapes of things. So, it's not so strange to combine these two realities, if you think about it.
Do you think that the viewer must understand your work or find some meaning in it, in order to enjoy it?
I believe that the images come to the heart and mind in many ways. Surely, receiving feedback from an illustration creates a bond with it. But they also work very slowly in us and, many times, we don’t even realise it.
How is the space where your art comes to life?
Very bright and messy!
Besides your job as illustrator, you also have a jewelry firm: Tartina Twist, which also explores your manual skills, as they are handmade pieces. Tell us more about this creative process.
That's right, I have a product line of handmade jewelry. I love the antique markets and finding vintage items. Tartina is a project born from the passion for handicrafts, fashion, costumes, materials research and the revisiting of textiles, buttons and old papers. Most of the creations are unique pieces. I love this part of my job: it forces me to use my creativity in a different way, and I think this is good for the rest of my time – especially when I’m drawing.
In addition to your jewelry firm, you have entered the world of fashion by collaborating with designers like Simone Rainer. Have you ever thought to inquire more in fashion by your own?
Yes, I do. I would like to start other collaborations in the world of fashion and textiles, and I have a project that I would like to develop in this direction.
You've illustrated, too, children's books. How does your creative mind change when you are drawing for the little ones?
I have no great difficulty in moving from a project for adults to a book for children. I like and enjoy both equally. When I’m drawing for children, I must find visual, smart and delicate solutions. It's really funny to me.
One of your illustrations, Virginia Woolf or weightless mind, is followed by a quote that says: “I would like to stay forever here in the middle of these simple things: this cup of coffee, this fork, things in themselves, and be, well, myself.” Do you feel reflected in this thought? Are you one of those people who find happiness in the small daily pleasures of life?
I like to stay in my refuge, in my nest. I completely understand this kind of feeling.
Your work has appeared in publications as big as The New York Times or Grazia Italy. What do you feel when you think that so many people is seeing what you have created?
It makes me happy, of course. It's nice when through your work you can communicate a message to many people. It is also a responsibility.
Is there a particularly significant illustration for you? Either because it took you many time to finish, because of the meaning behind it, because you drew it at some important moment of your life... Tell us about it.
This is a difficult question! Perhaps an illustration from my last project, “Affinché possano fiorire": it is a reflection of violence against women. It is the sixth in the series, the one with the unicorn. Here, the woman feels far from everything, as if she were a rare beast. And it’s a time of pain, but at the same time also a step in a process of reconstruction and rebirth.