Donato Giancola finds inspiration for his paintings from visits to the local bookstore to pilgrimages to the world’s great museums – including the Uffizi, Louvre, and Hermitage. As one of the world's most recognized and awarded fantasy artists, Donato teaches at the School of Visual Arts in New York City and lectures at various institutions, seminars, and conventions worldwide, sharing his passion of figurative arts.
Since beginning his professional career in 1993, Donato’s list of clients has grown to include the United Nations, Lucasfilm, National Geographic, CNN, DC Comics, Microsoft, U.S. Postal Service, Wizards of the Coast, Scholastic, Simon & Schuster, Tor Books, Random House, Time/Warner, Syfy, Milton Bradley, and Sony.
What is the most exciting thing you've learned recently?
I have learned that painting large is not as difficult as once thought! There are certainly better ways of approaching the task of large canvas oil painting than I currently undertake, but to borrow from Yoda:
‘Do or do not. There is no try.’
The act of forcing oneself to finish a task allows you to learn immensely from that labor. Greg Manchess has a wonderful lecture on this science of mastery. We can all overcome our hurdles if you condition your learning as challenge. That is exciting!
How do you battle through rough patches? What drives you forward?
Luckily I have few rough patches these days, as I only undertake commissions which speak directly to my desires as an artist. But on those occasions I do stumble, I turn to my companions online for a heavy artistic critique or take a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art or New York galleries to recharge my intent. I am still a student, willing to absorb a fair about of criticism on my work, turning that into productive evaluations of my currently projects. The museum visits, filled with some of the greatest works of human labor, constantly reminded of our mortality. We only have this single chance to create art reflective of the world we live in before we pass into dust like all the others before us. That keeps me motivated. Keep moving forward and never look back. As Dori stated in Finding Nemo – ‘Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming…’
What do you wish you had known earlier in your career?
I wish I had the courage to pursue my own projects and dreams earlier in my career.. After spending over twenty years as an illustrator I have invested more time helping other writers and producers pursue their visions than I have spent developing my own. Just because a concept is being developed by a major corporation, it does not mean it has more integrity than your own.
What is the best piece of advice you've ever received?
‘Go buy some better brushes.’ – Sal Baracca, my first representative.
This advice was so important because not only did it help improve my rendering abilities in oils at the time (better tips on a brush leads to better control of your medium), but it applied in a more general sense – invest in your career. When you spend money on yourself and art - either through entry fees for competitions, creating promotional materials, buying expensive framing for your art, or getting that expensive tube of cadmium orange – it communicates to others that you are serious about what you do and makes clients more likely to commit to you as an artist. Treating yourself and clients professionally makes you a professional.
The main experience I want attendees to take away from my teaching is my passion for art and dedication to craftsmanship. Hands down, this is the most important aspect of my lifestyle as an artist - the desire to make beautiful, sublime, and well wrought original works of art. I love telling stories. The more I fall in love with the characters within a narration, the more I want to bring a part of their world into ours, and part of our world into theirs. I want my viewers to feel the passions I have for my characters and walk away inspired to fuel their own dreams!