An interview with Piera Cirefice Illustration
Piera Cirefice is an Irish illustrator, who recently graduated from Falmouth University. She has a passion for the outdoors which fuels her work with travel reportage. Piera helps to capture living landscapes through the use of watercolours and sketching. She also uses a variety of traditional materials and techniques in order to address contemporary issues.
What motivated you to create your business?
Art has always been a passion of mine and it has always been my dream to be an artist. Growing up with parents who both work freelance in the creative industry has shown me it is possible to make a living out of my love of art. My ambition to live solely off of my love of art, particularly illustration is what drives me and motivates me to make my business a feasible reality.
What do you hope to receive from the graduate program?
With the graduate programme I hope to develop my work as an illustrator, constantly honing in on my visual language so as to create a strong foundation for establishing my business. I hope to achieve this through being offered the studio space. Being offered this space and having the chance to work in a shared creative environment should hopefully give my business the opportunity it needs to get it off the floor, as it’ll offer my practice better focus and direction. As a freelance illustrator, I feel it’s important to make clear distinctions between personal life and work and so I believe having the separate space will provide me with more motivation and drive.
How does your educational background help you with your business?
I studied my art foundation diploma and then my degree in Illustration at Falmouth University (Cornwall). I feel the latter really motivated me to pursue Illustration as a career, as the final stage of the degree was very much so geared towards professional practice. The final year involved a trip to New York to present my portfolio to the main names in the industry, like Penguin and The New York Times. This is probably the scariest thing I have done with regards to my work and so having done it and coming out of the experience realising I’m still in one piece has given me the confidence and determination to pursue my career in Illustration.
What work are you most proud of?
The work I am most proud of would be a large body of work I built up in my second year of my degree which involved documenting my travels around Connemara in February 2015, through the context of Travel Reportage Illustration and anchoring the work with W.B. Yeat’s poetry. The project resulted in making a book, illustrating Yeat’s poem “The lake Isle of Innisfree”. The body of work was awarded second place in the Reportage Illustration Awards at Falmouth and subsequently allowed me scope to successfully apply for the Falmouth Travel Bursary which enabled me to travel to the Scottish Highlands that summer and embark on another chapter in my work exploring the context of travel reportage illustration and its different possibilities. The work done in Connemara is therefore one I am most proud of as it allowed me to hone in on my skills and was sort of a realisation point for me in terms of the line in which I wanted to take my practice as an illustrator; using the context of travel reportage to document the living landscape, its histories and stories tied to its land.
What inspires your style of illustration?
Growing up at the foothills of the Mourne Mountains has instilled in me a great passion for the outdoors and so getting outside and exploring, especially the beautiful place I’m lucky enough to live in is what inspires me to create! After spending half a year travelling around New Zealand after graduating I was left with a rejuvenated passion for en plein air work, documenting first-hand accounts of the embodied experience and the thrill of exploring somewhere new! Coming home I was therefore motivated to pursue this work of travel reportage and explore further areas of keen interests of mine such as cartography and natural history illustration. I also find immersing myself in other creatives’ work hugely inspiring!