Amanda Mocci Interview
Lemonade Magazine: For those who aren’t aware of you or your art could you give us a brief introduction?
Amanda Mocci: My art focuses mainly on realistic portraiture with a touch of surrealism.
LM: Can you tell us a little about your artistic background?
AM: I began by studying graphic design in 2004 at Dawson College. After graduating college, I did my bachelors at UQAM where I minored in illustration. Everyone always told me that I should make illustration my main career focus, but I was always afraid I would lose the passion to illustrate. It has been about 3 years now since I started as a freelance illustrator.
LM: Who or what inspired you to start creating art?
AM: My brother played a huge role in that. A year before I started drawing, my brother passed away at the age of 30. When I finished college, I wanted to challenge myself with things that I told myself I could never do. Things that perhaps my brother would have liked to try if he was still around today. I always told myself that I could never draw a portrait because it was too hard. I think I surprised myself a little the day I actually tried. Music also has a big influence on my work. Some of my first portraits are mainly of my favourite musicians.
LM: How would you describe your art?
AM: I like to focus on the centre of the page and keep the surroundings clean. My first pieces were a little darker than my newest ones. I like to keep things on a serious level; there is a lot more room for imagination that way.
LM: How would describe your creative process? Do you always start from the same point or do you try to work more organically?
AM: It’s rare that I sketch out my idea before I start. A lot of my teachers hated me for that because I always tried to assure them that the final piece would turn out just the way they wanted it to. When there is a complex composition, I will do small, quick sketches to figure out the placement of elements on the page. My main focus when starting a new drawing is the eyes. The eyes are what make the drawing come to life. Once the eyes are right, the rest falls into place.
LM: Tell us about your favourite piece of work that you have created to date and why it is so special to you?
AM: I am strangely fond of my self-portrait, Dark Wings. I never thought this would have been the case considering that I always said that I would never draw myself. I like to draw people that fascinate me so it was an odd thing when I took up the personal project. It started out as a promotional piece but then it slowly evolved into one of my most beloved artworks. I was discovering myself everyday that I would work on it. I think that it is partly because of the video I created while working on the piece. It was exciting to be put in the place of the viewer and to see from their eyes what I do.
LM: The video you created for the piece is fantastic. Have you ever thought about creating more video pieces that aren’t specifically of your drawing process?
AM: I really enjoyed making the 2 process videos. It was nice to show people exactly how I work from start to finish. I have been thinking of making a short bio video of myself so people can get to know the person behind the work.
LM: Who are your favourite artists, past or present?
AM: A past artist would be Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio. I am greatly influenced by his use of chiaroscuro, which translates as “light-dark” and dramatic lighting. As for new artists, it would have to be Sam Weber and Sophie Jodoin.
LM: What is your favourite piece of work created by another artist and why?
AM: There are many pieces that I admire but one of my favourites is “Napoleon on his Imperial throne” by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres. The amount of detail in the painting always fascinates me, it drives me to try and be like him one day.
LM: Do you have a particular material, brand or technique that you swear by?
AM: My “H” range of pencils is my life. As for brands, I started with a generic pack of pencils and created some of my earliest pieces with them. I now use a full range of Staedtler pencils. As for colour, I swear by gouache and have a fond love for oils.
LM: Do you have any advice or words of wisdom for aspiring artists?
AM: Practice and patience is the best advice I can give. One of my teachers once told me that when I reach my 100th drawing I will be a better artist. When I got to that point he told me “now get to your 500th drawing and you will be even better”. You always need to set the bar higher and higher and keep surprising yourself.
LM: What’s the craziest idea you’ve either been proposed or come up with?
AM: Some people thought I was nuts when I made my book ‘The Universe’.
LM: Who controls the stereo and what’s usually playing in the studio?
AM: That would be me, since I’m the only one in my studio. I really love a lot of music but it varies from day to day and also what I am working on at the time. Without music, I would not be able to draw or come up with ideas. Some of my favourites are Radiohead, Interpol, Portishead, The Beatles, Muse (the old stuff), Beach House, Depeche Mode, Pink Floyd, and a bunch of other stuff. Really love Jazz and classical too.
LM: If you had to up sticks and leave the country where would you choose and why?
AM: New York city in a heartbeat… well Brooklyn. I feel like I can make anything happen in that city.
Every time I visit I come back with loads of inspiration and tons of adrenaline to create new things.
I don’t think I am the only one though!
LM: What can we expect from you in the future and is there anywhere you would like your work to take?
AM: It is hard to say what people might see form me in the future. I enjoy challenges and I love to try new things. One thing for certain is that I will be doing more large scale pieces. After doing Revival, I enjoyed the amount of detail I was able to put in the piece.