The Block

Interviews — 2 months ago

Emma Allegretti: Behind Closed Doors

Emma Allegretti’s work is a masterclass on how to approach difficult, contemporary social issues through creativity and sense of humour.

 

The Italian illustrator’s work, defined by a playful nature and water-coloured female figures, is building awareness in a world full of prejudice; especially around mental health – a topic on which Emma always aims to speak openly and honestly about.

 

We had a chat with Emma to pick her brain and find out what drives her on her mission to erase ignorance, one illustration at a time.

 

Emma’s ‘Raise Hell’ T-shirt is available here for a limited time only.

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Emma Allegretti
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Emma Allegretti photographed by

To kick things off, can you tell the community a little bit about yourself?

My name is Emma Allegretti. I’m an illustrator based in Rome, I could eat buffalo mozzarella every day and I do.

Your illustrations are amazing, when did you first get into drawing?

From a very early age, my mother is an art teacher so I literally had no choice. The first time I drew one of my girls, or what was to become ‘my girls’, was three years ago in my diary to go with my thought of the day.

Original artwork by Emma Allegretti
Original artwork by Emma Allegretti

How has your style developed over time?

It has become much cleaner and precise, luckily. I used to draw really wonky depressed women at the beginning on post-it notes at work. I work with much more detail now, taking my time to elaborate on the concepts, use of colour, especially watercolours.

Original artwork by Emma Allegretti
Original artwork by Emma Allegretti

I’ve made a choice to stick to watercolour rather than digital as it is a fundamental part of my process where I’m not staring at a screen and can rest my eyes and concentrate.

There should be no shame in having emotions

Why do you think your work resonates with your audience so well?

The pressures surrounding social media has played a pretty big part. There’s a lot of expectation when you’re young and on social media. I had a tough time with these expectations and felt the pressure of only showing the best version of myself on social media.

Original artwork by Emma Allegretti
Original artwork by Emma Allegretti

I share my perspective with a really honest approach and it’s something I think people look for in my work. But honestly, I like to think that the simplicity of it makes it really accessible.

How has using humour in your work helped with this? Was it always a part of your work?

Yes, humour has always been central to my work. When you’re speaking about really personal and sensitive subjects, it makes it easier for people to relate to when you add a layer of humour.

I think I find it comforting to be able to laugh about certain things. It makes things lighter and helps you to process what you are going through, at least for me.

Original artwork by Emma Allegretti
Original artwork by Emma Allegretti

Female characters feature prominently in your drawings, are they based on people that you’ve met or personal encounters?

It’s what I know and what surrounds me and yes, definitely, my work is based on people that I’ve met and one hundred per cent personal encounters. Lol.

Honesty is what is most relatable

Original artwork by Emma Allegretti
Original artwork by Emma Allegretti

Do you hope to erase some of the stigmas attached to speaking openly about insecurities and mental health?

Absolutely!! There should be no shame in having emotions, struggling with insecurities and mental health.

It can be really helpful, when struggling, to see that you are not alone and relate to something. Honesty is also so important and such a wonderful and essential thing.

Original artwork by Emma Allegretti
Original artwork by Emma Allegretti

You’ve recently launched your second campaign – how does your approach to designing a T-shirt differ from your digital work?

I guess my digital work is more impulsive. When thinking about a design to use for a T-shirt I think about something that would make someone feel good, something powerful yet vulnerable; a statement as a T-shirt design. I just love the idea of literally wearing emotions on your sleeve.

Where do you turn when you’re looking for a hit of inspiration?

I usually try to get out and away from my desk and actually do something. If that fails, I then just listen to the radio and wait for something to hit me.

Original artwork by Emma Allegretti
Original artwork by Emma Allegretti

Finally, what advice would you give to other young creators trying to express themselves through their art?

To do it and feel no shame or embarrassment. It can be scary to share things which are so personal but honesty is what is most relatable. When I first started illustrating, I remember the feeling of embarrassment when showing my work?! You just gotta do what you gotta do!

Emma’s second tee, ‘Raise Hell’ is available here for a limited time only.