Meet Valerio Vitantoni, author and artist. Valerio’s enchanting illustrated fairytale, Gelsomina & The Moon Yarn, combines Steampunk with a touch of Beatrix Potter flair, in his own fresh and unique style. A real gem for our younger Luna readers.
Bored with mending socks and shorts, seamstress Gelsomina is eager for a challenge. When a foreign lady storms into the village onboard her vaporous contraption, Gelsomina knows her life is about to change, for the lady needs a very special dress. The only problem is, no one has ever heard of the special yarn she needs. Does it even exist?
He lives and works in Italy where he has always been an artist, illustrating stories for friends or making portraits in pencil and coloured pastels. Since childhood he has always dreamed of illustrating fairytales – his inspirations are Maja Dusikova, Beatrix Potter and Jill Barklem.
Passionate about European fairytales and legends, especially those of Central Europe, the Alps and Alto Adige, Valerio is interested in customs and traditions of the European nineteenth century, but also legendary historical figures such as the empress Elisabeth of Austria and King Ludwig II of Bavaria. He writes articles for his blog dedicated to this, called “The World of Sissi”, and runs a historical group on Facebook, called “The Nineteenth Century of Sissi and Ludwig II”. Recently he has published a book with Mursia publishing house in Milan, concerning Empress Sissi’s visits to Trentino-Alto Adige.
Here’s what Valerio has to say about his work:
“The idea of writing a fable in the style of those written by Beatrix Potter or Jill Barklem goes back a fair bit. I have always loved illustrated fairytales, a genre that is maybe not too fashionable today, but has always fascinated me; not surreal and abstract images, but close to reality, that narrate and show something known and certain, something that could infuse security and warm the heart. Although the two English illustrators’ books show anthropomorphic animals, these are always very real, with characteristics of every human being and actions taking place in realistic homes and places, in an unspecified, yet recognisable time.
When my mother gave me the first fairytales illustrated by Maja Dusikova, I decided to become an illustrator of children’s books, following this style that I loved so much, but with a fresher and faster method, like in Potter and Barklem’s books, and more akin to my own technique. Living in the Tuscia countryside, near Viterbo, I always loved walking through the woods, observing nature and imagining, right from childhood, imagining the possible stories of animals and birds that I met on the path.
After a course of artistic studies at the Institute of Art in Terni, which allowed me to discover and learn the techniques of drawing which, as a kid, I had approached only for pleasure and without rules, I started to make illustrations and drawings in my spare time. In a period of such a profound work crisis, which also affected the artistic field, of course, my life took on different professional paths, but drawing has always been part of it. So, one day, between a portrait on commission and other small presents for friends, I first crafted a fable, in the style of Beatrix Potter, to give to a dear friend for his birthday, followed by few more a couple of years later. It was a simple story, inspired by my friend, that told of a little wood mouse entangled in a thousand mishaps and involved in various problems which, in the end, of course, are resolved with a quiet, happy ending.
From here, I came across Luna Press Publishing, which led to me writing and illustrating this particular story. The idea of telling the tale of a little forest mouse wasn’t born through chance or obligation – it was already inside of me, encompassing my passion for the Victorian era and also the nineteenth century.”
You can purchase Gelsomina & The Moon Yarn in English and in Italian at Luna Press Publishing. The book is also available through the usual retailers in print and digital formats.