“I have always had a strong propensity to create and communicate my feelings in my own way.”
Pietro Tenuta, an Italian artist from picturesque Turin, joined Lake in late May, but we are still in awe of his delicate narrative art. Pietro is known for gently uncovering all the layers of his romantic heart and combining them with all the intense feelings fluttering beneath the surface of us all. From pretty to painful, it’s all authentic and valid. While drawing poetry with his lines, he is also well-versed with words, which will soon get their spot in an actual book accompanying his amazing art. But while waiting to admire Pietro’s art on paper, you can enjoy this honest and insightful interview about all the stuff you want to ask him.
Buon giorno, Pietro. How are you today?
Excited about this interview!
Let’s start with you. How would you describe yourself to people who don’t know you?
Who am I? I am a 26-year-old boy with an immoderate propensity for beautiful things and for all the forms with which beauty chooses to reveal itself before our eyes, I am a graphic designer, and I found in illustration the right compromise to be able to express myself best. I have a very introverted personality, I would say I’m like a diesel engine - in short, I need my time. Sometimes I find it hard to live in the present because my head goes back and forth and out of control and I think doing the illustrations slows it down to make me live in the present, a present marked by pencil lines and delicate shades.
Fortunately, things are slowly starting to look brighter, but we are still caught in this strange Covid suspense. How did this last year affect your life and work?
Last year was a year that drained me of my desire to do and create things, I thought I was in a film and everything seemed like just a bad dream to me. This has had a very negative impact on the work aspect of my life, even though I have managed to conclude the projects to which I am very attached. Now, fortunately, thanks to the slow recovery and the summer, I am slowly regaining my usual desire for new ideas and new points of view.
You live in Turin. We love following your IG stories and seeing all those pretty postcards from Italy, especially now, as traveling is limited for most of us. What do you love the most about your city?
Thanks so much for this question guys. In recent years I have developed a visceral love for my city, I don’t know what it was but I’m madly in love with it. Poetic, romantic, historical, these are just some of the words that come to my mind thinking of her, as well as, as you said, enigmatic, as if she still had something to say and to show you, without ever completely revealing herself. If I had to define Turin I would say that it is a city made of romanticism.
“If I had to define Turin I would say that it is a city made of romanticism."
Has art always been your inner calling, or did it happen somehow on the way? We are curious to know how it all started.
I have always had a strong propensity to create and communicate my feelings in my own way, even without having to open my mouth. I have been drawing since I was a child, a bit like everyone in the end, but it was when I started attending high school that I realized that I wanted to be creative. At the school I went to, many chose it for its ease, but I saw something more, something for myself. I only started to do illustration in 2015. I was drawing in black and white by hand and I found it liberating to do so, and I realized that there was still so much to learn, so I am still doing it today. As for writing, I came across it looking for something that would help me make my thoughts even more usable. With writing, I was able to expand the scope of my work. My first book, which will come out next year, combines my illustrations with the texts I wrote for them. I’m really excited about this project.
You are not only a designer and illustrator; you are a storyteller and a poet as well. What does writing mean to you?
“To me, writing means telling the reality that is hidden inside each illustration, to make it even more understandable and immersive."
To me, writing means telling the reality that is hidden inside each illustration, to make it even more understandable and immersive. At first, it was a secondary component, but over time it has become an integral part of my work, also requiring a lot of time for composition. Sometimes I read the old stuff that I wrote in the past years and it still amazes me what my mind sometimes manages to give birth to, or rather; my heart.
Tell us about your creative process.
I work mainly digitally, starting from the sketch to the draft and then moving on to the final one. I also love pantones (markers used in graphics) and the effect they have on watercolor paper. I would like to find the time to do something analog, to be able to make perhaps a capsule collection of hand prints. Even if sooner or later I’ll do some paintings on canvas or on wood with acrylics, I think they lend themselves very well to my style. I love working in environments that instill calm and creativity in me, such as my room or the studios of various artist friends in the city.
Your IG handle goes by the name of @maniacodamore, meaning Love maniac in English. Is love your greatest muse?
When I decided to create the page in 2017, also thanks to the encouragement of the people closest to me, I knew that I had to find a name that would really convey what I’m all about. On that occasion, a photo I took a year earlier came to my aid. I was in San Salvario, an area of Turin known for its nightlife. I was quite intoxicated and I was staggering down the street when I leaned on a door and my sight fell on a yellow-lit doorbell. It said: love maniacs. I could not figure out what it was, whether it was a house or something else, but a year later I started looking at that photo as representing the need to see oneself in something, and when you love love in all its forms in a manic way, you can only be one thing: a Love maniac.
Your art is exquisitely delicate and romantic, showing our inner worlds in all of their fragility. You don’t shy away from themes such as solitude, heartbreak, and depression; instead, you’re exposing them as an inherent part of us. Does your art grow from your actual experiences and emotions?
“I think every emotion has a right to be experienced however painful and unwanted it may be. Talking about these types of emotions makes us more human precisely because it is human to suffer, just like it is human to breathe."
I think every emotion has a right to be experienced however painful and unwanted it may be. Talking about these types of emotions makes us more human precisely because it is human to suffer, just like it is human to breathe. I try to talk about things that have happened to me and others that I know could happen to anyone, taking my work to a more human level to be able to connect with the people who follow me.
I find your art beautifully emphatic and comforting, therapeutic in a way. How do your fans respond to it?
People often feel understood by my way of expressing feelings. Eh, when you identify with something, it is impossible not to share it. In this regard, many psychotherapists and psychologists share my work and sometimes use it to talk about medical and mental problems.
You gave your coloring book in Lake a meaningful title; “A Part of Us”. Do you think we pay enough attention to the not-so-pleasant parts of us?
I think there is a need to no longer worry about externalizing the deep and emotional part of us. By doing so, we can speak more freely about what scares us and that we sometimes keep hidden, just as mentioned above about giving dignity to all types of emotions. Only by admitting that we are afraid will we be able to build courage.
“Only by admitting that we are afraid will we be able to build courage."
I would say you are very aware of your body and mind. How do you take care of your mental health? Where is the best place for you to find harmony?
I believe that with awareness of ourselves we can face things in a way that is the most natural for us. I have had a difficult time healing my mind and body during this period but I’m on the right track to getting back on track. I often find the harmony I need right inside my thoughts. It’s a dangerous place, I know, but it’s the only one I know like the back of my hand even if sometimes it can surprise me.
We are delighted you became a part of Lake. What made you go with us?
I already knew Lake and joining this big family of amazing artists has been a great pleasure for me. I love taking part in a project that is so well-developed for every creative person out there!
I joined Lake because of my desire to broaden my audience and bring them a taste of my romantic vision.
What are your plans for the future?
Personally, I have a crazy fear of the future. You never know what it has in store for you, and being a person who really likes planning, this scares me a lot. But if I have to think about my plans for the future, I think I’ll keep creating and developing my ideas in new ways, and that the future holds a slice of happiness for me, whatever I decide to do.
I think we can both agree that social media are a must for artists in these times. How have Instagram and other platforms affected your business?
Social media, especially Instagram, gave my work a launching pad and allowed me to make myself known to the world. Without these channels, I would not have reached any of the important milestones I reached by my age. I think it’s very important to use them with kindness and with the desire to send a positive message into the world. If it wasn’t for social media, I wouldn’t be here to tell you about my dreams and fears.
“I think it’s very important to use them with kindness and with the desire to send a positive message into the world. If it wasn’t for social media, I wouldn’t be here to tell you about my dreams and fears."
Any uplifting thoughts for those who are also starting to make their way as artists?
I don’t have a formula for success. But I can say one thing to those who are trying to make themselves known for their art: don’t be afraid to show yourselves for who you are.
One last thing before saying goodbye; can you tell us where we can find and follow you?
Sure guys, you can find my illustrations on my Instagram page @maniacodamore, where I try to publish all the projects I have worked on.
Grazie mille, Pietro! We can’t wait to see more of your art and Ig stories, hihi.
Thank you for this wonderful opportunity to talk about myself, it was a pleasure.