by Sherif Awad
I’m from Italy and I grow up in a large family with six kids, I was the youngest. My mother’s family was the ones that care more about us on our childhood and they are teaching me the importance of hard-working, studying, simple lifestyle and to keep always the feet on the ground no matter what lifestyle level I will reach. They have also a strong relation with nature (my grandmother used to grow our veggies and fruits) and they teach me to observe and learn from it. I grew up basically in a huge garden full of flowers and kids, my brothers and sisters.
My favourite childhood book was the magical world series books drawn by Tony Wolf. This magical side always fascinated me and growing I stay always on this kind of illustrator. I love the ones that involve a lot the nature on their painting like Mucha, Anne Geddes, Leonardo da Vinci. But I’m a huge fan of Perugino and Botticelli portraits. Nature and grace in both. My favourite childhood movie and tv shows are the ones that later became “geek classics”: Jurassic Park, Goonies, Ghostbusters and this stuff that my bigger brothers looked and that I absolutely still love.
My family taught me that study is very important not for the paper that you grab at the end but for the effort that you are pushing through the process to become a better version of yourself. I think that is very important to study, never end this process and especially don’t make the classical mistake that most of the illustrators do right now: study just what is related to illustration. No. You have to create new language if you want to be different from the others and this means that you have to step with your brain in work and study fields that are not at all related to your passions or your traditional work. Your future work probably still doesn’t exist and will require you skills that not many others will have. You have to win in advance and be ready and interested in many fields. Challenge yourself, study something you will never think about and try to integrate on your creative process. Is like this that the new media and the new arts were born.
My work is specialized in travel. I try to tell the soul of a place that I visited or where I lived for a while with different media at the same time to involve the reader in a full sense process. For example, for my project about Iceland, I made a graphic novel “Takk, perdersi in Islanda” the first in the world for a foreigner for the Italian Publisher BeccoGiallo Editore. After this, I start to make a podcast to tell extra stories and I will go back this year to make videos. For my actual project that is about the Japanese warriors from the past until nowadays I will create a series of online games to challenge the readers about the info that I give in the graphic novel. And I hope to come back to make a final part about my project (but is a surprise, I can’t say too much). My main side project is in Lyon, the city where I live in France. I will use the comics storytelling mixed with gamification involvement process and my graphic and illustration skills to create a world (that will involve the online and offline reality at the same time) that the traveller can play and explore for better know the city.
My impression of the Italian comic book industry is very good right now (is in a period of economical blooming) but there is still some work that has to be done. We have no union for the comics artist and this let freedom on the market that some time is used for good purposes, some time for bad ones. Happily, a group called MEFU is doing an effort in this way: they make great value surveys, and they are creating a database of free resources for the Italian artist. If you want to understand the Italian market, I suggest following them (www.mefu.it). The Italian market is right now leaded by Italian character that are born on other media (YouTube a lot) and that after are translated to the comics market. -Do comic books affect the realities of their readers? I think yes. Especially in this chaotic period, I think they can give a strong reference when someone feels lost. Your superhero will never let you down and a comic strip will always make you smile, no matter how was your day. And this is the main reason why I think the comics have a huge success in the last years in Italy where the economic crisis was going on for a while before Covid-19.
I consider my best achievement so far: that enterprises and projects that I admire contact me to build project together. Start to have the reliability that brings you work is the best sensation ever.
I’m drawing my second graphic novel for BeccoGiallo Editore Publisher, that same as my first one. It will be published in spring/summer 2021 and tell the unknown story of the woman warriors in Japan. I made a lot of research, visited exhibitions and make a trip to Japan to make research on the ground. I really put the 100% effort on this book and I hope that it will be welcomed as the first one was. My second project is about Lyon, the city in France where I live for mix comics with video game language to create a gamification tourist experience. You can follow all my projects through my social media, especially Facebook (@epiproject) and Instagram (@epi_comics) or my website (www.epiproject.com).