Andrea Zanatelli – Love is Enough
Giovanna Pisacane talks to the Italian artist about his new book and his life's works
26-year-old Italian artist Andrea Zanatelli opens up about the release of his first book Love is Enough and his digitalized embroidery artworks that led to him to collaborating with global music stars like Florence Welch and Courtney Love.
Fascinated by the Arts and Crafts and Pre-Raphaelites movement, and influenced by names like Dante Gabriel Rossetti and William Morris, Zanatelli finds inspiration in ancient fabrics, antique jewellery, miniatures and English poetry. His new book Love is Enough has just been published and is a combination of all of his deepest obsessions: romantic imagery, allegorical illustrations mixed with poems and mottos.
Born in Milan, after graduating with a degree in in art he continued to collect magical symbols, Victorian era craftsmanship, historical religious works and anything else that caught his imagination in the vintage markets he frequently visited. Eventually, Zanetti used this knowledge to put together the past and the future by combining digitalized codes and found treasures from a bygone era. Often mistaken for real embroidery pieces, his artworks are, in fact, very detailed and intricate digital collages, made to look and feel like handcrafted pieces. Here, he gives us some insight into his creativity and explains more about the background to his new book.
Hello Andrea. Firstly, tell us about your personal studies and collaborations it led to.
I was born and raised in Milan and I graduated in art. I always explored my creative side while researching and studying new techniques. In the last few years I’ve collaborated with English singer Florence Welch. She asked me to create three artworks to celebrate the end of her last tour, High as Hope. Lately, I also collaborated with Courtney Love who used one of my artworks for her new video series entitled Bruises of Roses. I’ve also had the opportunity to put together my first book Love is Enough, which is a collection of my works paired with my most beloved English poems. The world of poetry has always interested me and it’s a significant part of what I do. Poems inspire the way I compose my artworks.
How did you meet Florence Welch?
It’s a treasured moment. She became interested in my work through Instagram. She first reposted one of my artworks and after a certain time she reposted another one. That was the starting point of our ‘relationship’. We started writing and we ended up working on a collaboration.
Where does your fascination with poetry come from?
I’ve always thought that the Arts and Crafts movement and the Pre-Raphaelites were two truly fascinating movements. I find these artistic periods interesting because they were not just focused on the ‘classical arts,’ they also had a keen interest in poetry, interior design and applied arts. Most of the time when we speak about art it’s something which is just related to a painting. However, through the Arts and Crafts movement, it was considered a 360-degree concept, where minor and higher forms collided to create unique collections of artworks.
How do you create your digital art?
My artworks are very intricate collages. I put together different fabric pieces, threads, trimmings, etc, in a way so that the result looks like embroidery, but in a digital form. The research requires a lot of time since I have to find images that have to blend in a perfect way. The eventual outcome is always already created in my mind before I start collecting the different materials.
Given your creative process, do you consider yourself to also be a collector?
Yes, I am. My artwork is a projection of who I am and what surrounds me. I collect antique jewellery, fabrics, old books and various objects.
Do you travel a lot to find these treasures?
I wander in antique shops, fairs and markets to find the objects I collect. A nice fact: Florence’s first repost of one of my works on Instagram happened while I was at an antique fair, scouting for ribbons and trimmings to decorate some cushion covers.
How the idea of releasing a book come about? And, how long did it take to put together Love is Enough?
The book came about very naturally, as if it had always been there. A year and a half ago I started working on it, during the first lockdown. It took a couple of months to put together the project. I was really lucky to have this opportunity during the lockdown. It was my way of escaping.
What would say is your relationship to fashion?
I won’t say it inspires me, but I am always looking for vintage and antiques. I am fascinated by finding unique pieces that have a story; a past.
What does the title of you upcoming book, Love is Enough, mean?
It comes from the title of one of my artworks, and it also comes from one of my trips to England – to the Red House in Bexleyheath, south east London. The house belonged to William Morris, a founding member of the British Arts and Crafts movement, and now it’s currently under the patronage of the National Trust. The house has been restyled through the years, but it still holds its connection with the family. Morris lived in this house together with his wife Jane and the rest of his family.
The title of the book also comes from a copy of the sketch that was held inside the mansion. The sketch, by May Morris, is a design for the embroidery of the poem Love is Enough written by her father, William. May eventually created the cover and the embroidery for her dad’s book. The title came from this artwork and also from the fact that all the poems in my book are connected by love, which sounds naive but, in my opinion, this is the feeling that moves everything that surrounds us.
Who inspires you when it comes to poetry?
There is a big part dedicated to William Blake, a complete artist who didn’t just write beautiful poems, but also illustrated them. Other influences are Christina Rossetti (poet Dante Gabriel’s sister), Anne Brontë, Emily Dickinson, Percy Shelley, and so on. My artworks are combined with miniatures and portraits from 1600 to the Pre-Raphaelites, and set on wallpapers and antique fabrics.
How have you been contacted by the English publishing house?
Lucienne O’Mara contacted me directly after seeing my Instagram profile. She thought it would be interesting to make a book with my artworks paired with poems. When I started working on the book it became immediately clear that the project was connected to Florence Welch. This led me to the idea of contacting her to write my foreword. She accepted without hesitation. I owe a lot to her as she really believes in me and my art. In a way, I think we are kindred spirits and we share the same aesthetics and beliefs.
I’ve always been shy and uncertain about my art. “Is what I do interesting enough? Is it worth it?” This is what I always ask myself. In a way, I was exposing myself because my artworks are an extension of who I am and of what I research; it’s very personal.
And finally, what are your future plans?
I’m focusing on the launch of my book. It’s already out in the UK and will be out in the US on January the 4th. It can already be pre-ordered online. The English publishing house that contacted me to create a book on my art is Michael O’Mara, a family-run publishing house, and for the US I’m represented by Andrews McMeel publishing. The covers of the English and American publications are different. The English version has been designed with a particular lettering and colour, while the American one is a reproduction of my artwork, Love is Enough.
To find out more on Andrea Zanatelli and his new book, click here.