In Conversation With Ana Latese
last updated 08 November 2023
Interview by Rachel Moffat
We recently sat down with Ana Latese and spoke all about her passion for illustration, her creative process, and what inspires her. Read our conversation below.
Here’s what Ana’s agent Anna Zieger had to say about working so closely with her:
“Ana is a true delight to work with – passionate, hardworking, and incredibly talented. I am always excited to see what she comes up with next. She is definitely one to look out for!”
What is your first memory of art?
I believe my first memory of art was drawing on my bedroom wall with a permanent marker, because I wanted to make my imaginary friend come to life. My mother was so mad at me that day! Ever since, she has bought me art supplies and paper to keep myself entertained. That might’ve been the day that she knew I would become an artist in the future.
What brought you to Bright?
I truly wanted to find an agency that aligned with my values, would help develop my artistic strengths, and were serious about connecting artists to the right projects. Most of my art pals that were connected to Bright had nothing but amazing things to say about Bright, which led me to submit my portfolio! My lovely agent, Anna Zieger, decided to take me underneath her wing. I’m so grateful to be here!
Where are you from and how does that affect your work?
I’m from North Carolina. I am lucky enough to live in a city with so much nature to explore, people to have a good chat with, and art museums to go to. There is plenty of vibrant art outside of buildings, on the sidewalks, and more is being added all the time. I always take inspiration from the “outside world,” hence why I draw a lot of characters, use vibrant colors, and add nature aspects in my illustrations.
How do you translate your thoughts to the page?
I have a couple of methods! I’m either scribbling out a random art idea that comes from my head onto my mini notebook or onto my iPad. Sometimes, I will quickly write down my idea and go onto Pinterest to make myself a mood board. I take every idea from my head and translate it onto something. You never know what can come out from it.
Procreate Speedpaint from Ana’s YouTube Channel
What is your favourite part of the illustration process?
My favourite part of my process is definitely line work. Even though it is a long process for me, as I tend to focus on the details too much, it’s satisfying to see the final result and know I am almost done with my piece of work.
How do you develop your art skills?
I study artists that are close to the style I am currently working in. Studying any artist that you admire is important as you can find new ways of thinking about your current skills. However, I believe learning and understanding artists whose style closely relates to your own helps you figure out how to draw certain things in the style you are already developing.
What is an average day in the studio like for you at the moment?
I am definitely a 5–6am early bird and my creative juices are best at the crack of dawn. I get started by doing some key stretches, such as yoga or Pilates, before sitting down for long hours at my desk. I take on my biggest drawing tasks first and then work down my to-do list to the smaller tasks I may have, like admin work. If I have time at the end of my work day, I love to dabble in my personal work, whether that be art or working on writing my first author-illustrator book.
Mia and the Traitor of Nubis, illustrated by Ana Latese, written by Janelle McCurdy, published by Faber & Faber
Who/What have been your key influences?
2D animation movies like The Princess and The Frog, Studio Ghibli films, and Lilo & Stitch helped shape my style into what it is today. I’m constantly referencing and studying them. I also love looking at the work of Pernille Ørum, Gabriel Picolo, Gretel Lusky, and Anoosha Syed. Meeting the creator of Lilo and Stitch, Chris Sanders, and Anoosha Syed in person at Lightbox Expo in 2022 was the highlight of my life!
Anoosha Syed and Ana Latese at Lightbox Expo 2022
What was it like seeing your work out in the world for the first time?
It was mind blowing! My first published book project was Boys Don’t Cry by Malorie Blackman. I will always cherish that book close to my heart. I was a college student at the time with the hopes of becoming a full-time illustrator once I graduated. Receiving that book in the mail and holding it in my hand really solidified my dream of illustrating books. I’m happy to say that I accomplished that dream and continue to dream even bigger.
Boys Don’t Cry, illustrated by Ana Latese, written by Malorie Blackman, publihsed by Corgi Childrens
What advice would you give to an aspiring artist?
My advice to any aspiring artist is to simply put yourself out there and not care what others think. I don’t think I would be where I am today without posting my art on social media and going for it. A piece that went viral on Twitter in 2020 got me to my first big client, The Washington Post. I still get requests to this day from that piece. We are in an age that is different, compared to how it was for artists from way back. They had to market themselves harder, while we are able to utilize social media to help us find our target audience/community and share our art with people who will enjoy it on a wider scale.
Do you have any ‘dream projects’ that you’d like to work on someday?
Oh, I have a ton! My dream projects include working on a Disney princess project, more YA romance book covers, a Little Golden Book, an illustrated movie poster, and my own author-illustrator book!
To work with Ana, get in contact here.