Hello, my name is Carlo Stanga. I am an illustrator, an architect and a books author.
My story is my Daimon’s story.
As the ancient Greeks used to believe, everyone of us has a Daimon. The Daimon is our real essence, what makes us unique individuals, the real reason why we are on this Earth, our creative talent, in one world, our destiny.
Not attending to your Daimon, your deepest passion, means to damage your own life. On the contrary, supporting your Daimon makes you closer to happiness, that, not without reason, in ancient greek is called Eudaimonia.
Actually a happy life means attending a work you would have done in any case, just because you like it, even without being paid!
In my story the Daimon showed up very early, when I was 2.
He was a doodler Daimon, making me sketching flying withces and elicopters on every available surface like sheets of paper, tables, walls, the kitchen’s furniture…
At that age I did not speak yet, I was only drawing, so my parents led me to the doctor . “ No worries”, he said, “ he just communicates through drawing, he will begin to speak soon”.In fact a few months later I began to speak, but I never stopped drawing.
At the elementary school, attended between the age of 6 and 10, I was so lucky to have a teacher who understood me and my Daimon, letting him express himself. She was often asking me to create big drawings about the main subjects of the school lessons. So I was usually face-down on a large sheet of paper, as big as a carpet, sketching whimsical scenes about the ancient Romans, rain forest, the french revolution, the solar system and so on. I was drawing with a black felt tip pen and my schoolmates were instructed to color my creations. So most of the time I was sorrownded by my friends, very committed in fill my b&w drawing with beautiful colors, all lying on their stomach, just like me.
My Daimon had a lot of fun! Soncino, my small medieval town, in northern Italy, collects all the main carachteristics of a city, just as a child could imagine. The citadel, slightly raised on the plain with the Alps in distance, is embraced by large red brick walls that at one point, like an origami, bend in a thousand sides and creates a crenellated fortress, furrowed by drawbridges.
Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque architecture is not lacking and there is even a fourteenth-century heptagonal tower, unique in Europe, leaning like the tower of Pisa.
Thus, influenced by my small but multifaceted village, palaces, towers and windows began to appear in my childhood drawings as far as the eye could see. However, it was my first trip to a big city that blew my interest in architecture and the urban landscape. I was 8 years old and, with my uncles Anna and Peppo, I visited Rome. I was spellbound. I was struck by everything, both in beauty and in size. I was experiecing everything as a magical adventure. The immense spaces, the noisy streetlife, the sunlight reading the surfaces of ancient walls, things that I had just studied at school and found there, like different walls textures: opus incertum, opus reticulatum, opus mixtum, walls and arches built with immense blocks of stone, fragments of colossal statues, luxuriant fountains. The thing that struck me most in this merry-go-round of emotions was the Pantheon. The emotional impact that the two-thousand-year-old concrete dome with the 9-meter-wide oculus from which rain and sun rays alternated made me decide to be an Architect.
So 10 years later, after the Liceo Classico,the high school, here I am at the Faculty of Architecture at Milan Polytechnic. It is here that the love for the theme grew stronger, while the drawing begins to fluctuate schizophrenically between cold technical design and soft freehand lines. Meanwhile, my Daimon makes me attend the school of comics in via Savona, where the teacher Coca Frigerio, pushing me to deepen the illustration, introduces me to the work of many great Italian illustrators and artists such as Adelchi Galloni and Emanuele Luzzati and above all to the great Bruno Munari in person.
Bruno Munari was a disruptive example, above all for his originality and the sense of freedom that his method and approach had. A perfect Daimon awakener.
In the meantime, it could not be placed in a specific area. A designer? Of course, but also a great illustrator, indeed a conceptual artist, a sculptor of useless machines, origami, dynamic works, a teacher who used an extraordinary method capable of developing creativity, this unknown then as today, a free spirit that preserved intact the creativity of the child, so much so that he was completely at ease with children not yet corrupted by bad teachers. Seeing Bruno Munari working in the creative workshops I collaborated with during my graduation was an experience that instilled in my mind a new way of seeing, more free and nonconformist.
At this point the Daimon was jumping with enthusiasm. It is not for a coincidence that Enthusismos in ancient Greek means: "Having a god inside".
So I started working in parallel as a freelance architect and as an illustrator. Both worked well. However, I was very disturbed and bored by the various bureaucratic aspects that the profession of architect required, moreover, after a few years, the Daimon of the drawing recalcitrated, asking me for more time and commitment in what was obviously my destiny. Just at that time, La Repubblica, the first Italian newspaper, called me for a long collaboration, while the MTA in New York asked me for a large illustration dedicated to the American city subway and at that point I decided to dedicate myself completely to illustration. I therefore quit the profession of architect, but architecture continues to be the protagonist in my designs.
By now my Daimon could express himself freely and my sense of eudaimonia, of satisfaction and completeness, confirmed to me the right choice.
Since then the years dedicated to drawing began, experimenting with methods, colors, techniques up to shaping a very recognizable style that continues to make my Daimon win many international awards such as the Treccani Web Prize in 2016, the American Illustration Award, the Gold Medal from the American magazine Creative Quarterly as well as various Communication Arts "Awards of Excellence".
This is how it happens when you indulge your Daimon and push him to express himself freely. Something magically positive starts, everyone begins to function well and things happen.
One of these things happened on the day when the director of Moleskine Publishing Roberto di Puma called me asking me to propose them my personal project, "whatever you want"he said. My Daimon immediately suggested his dream to me: a series of illustrated books on the most important cities in the world. Today the series collects 3 titles, I am Milan, I am London and I am New York. We are thinking about the next city to give voice to.
So the I am the City series is the activity at the center of my work as an illustrator. Many other initiatives flourish around my books such as lectures and workshops, like those recently held in New York and exhibitions such as the one at the Africa Center in Manhattan, organized by the Moleskine Foundation, or the personal exhibition at the Bonvini Gallery in Milan inaugurated in 2018.
Meanwhile, the projects continue for many other realities such as the new Futurium Museum in Berlin, the Piccolo Teatro in Milan, the large installation to be created at Malpensa airport on the initiative of MEET-Fondazione Cariplo and other books on architecture and music for the Berlin publisher Raum Italic and Princeton Architectural Press in New York.
Long live the Daimon!
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