Illustration – Nicoletta Ceccoli

Nicoletta Ceccoli is an illustrator born in the Republic of San Marino in 1973. She attended the State Institute of art from Urbino (Italy) for seven years and even if she spent the last two years studying animation, she will then focus on illustration. In the beginning she was using acrylics on paper, but later on she switched for digital media.

In 1995, while she is still studying, Nicoletta Ceccoli starts to work on several projects as children’s book illustrator. Sometimes on traditional tales such as Le avventure di Pinocchio (2001) or Little red riding hood (2004), but also on original stories like La foresta radice labirinto (2001), Oscar and the mooncats (2007), A Dignity of Dragons (2010) and The Boo book (2012). Even though she was not in charge of the story, she manages to impose her style though the illustrations she created.

She also published five books as both author and illustrator: The girl in the castle inside the museum (2008), Beautiful Nightmares (2010), Daydreams (2013), Play with me (2018) and Resta con me (2019). One of the strengths of those books lies in the fact that Nicoletta Ceccoli was in charge of both the story and the illustrations, which gave her more freedom compared to the constraints linked to children books.

Nicoletta Ceccoli likes to represent model little girls. These same heroines can be found in many of her illustrations. Don’t be fooled by the apparent lightness of her style. By taking a deep and strong look at her work you will quickly realize that behind pastel colors, dolls, toys, candy, dreamy world and princesses hide a whole other level of analysis. Indeed even it is well question of girl’s childhood, we also address tougher topics like the loss of innocence, melancholy, abandonment and duality. Her work is on the threshold of opposite universe that she is bringing together. It seems to be a reminder that appearances are sometimes deceiving and that light and darkness can fully coexist.

We distinguish two main types of staging: close portraits and life scenes. Close portraits position the spectator in front of the character. We are directly facing it and it is looking right through us. Characters always have the same kind of facial expression: resignation, repressed sadness and a jaded gaze. In life scenes, we are however an invisible observer, a voyeur, witnessing a strange scene, which feels like pretty ordinary to the main character.

There are similarities between the work of Nicoletta Ceccoli and the French illustrator Benjamin Lacombe, such as the omnipresence of female characters, an apparent naivety and an assumed strangeness.

Nicoletta Ceccoli was part of many exhibitions all over the world, both solo or jointly with other artists. She also won many prizes such as the Andresen Prize in 2001 as best illustrator of the year, the Silver medal of the Society of Illustrators of New York in 2006, the Bologna’s Children book’s fair show in 1995, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2007, or the Award of Excellence of Communication Art in 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2011. In 2008. She also participated in the design of the characters of the 3D French animation movie “Jack et la mécanique du cœur”, directed by Mathias Malzieu and Stephane Berla.

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