Being huge fans of Andy Rementer’s cheeky work we’ve seen illustrator Margherita Urbani’s name bandied around a lot over the past few years, whether in credits in Apartamento or The New York Times, but it wasn’t until last week that we thought to look up exactly what she does. Which, as it turns out, is quite a lot.
Born in Italy but based in the US, by day Margherita is a graphic designer at Anthropologie, while “on nights and weekends I pursue my passions that are illustration, comics, and typography,” she explained to us. “At the same time I work with Andy Rementer on personal projects as well as many of his commissioned jobs. Any spare moment is spent searching for vintage books, ghost signs in the city, and scouting for anything that is visually interesting. And drinking coffee.”
Unsurprisingly, we thought this was plenty reason enough to find out more about what Margherita does; from working on her own comics and freelance illustration alongside her full-time design job, to the tricky art of collaboration.
Who and what are your key influences?
Growing up I watched a lot of Japanese animated cartoons, like Lupin III, Creamy Mami, Little Pollon and many more. The bright colours and handmade quality is still irresistible for me. While I didn’t really care for novels, I was devouring French and Belgian comics like Asterix, Tin Tin, Babar the Elephant, and Barbapapa. Italian newspapers were always around, and the first thing I would look at were the razor sharp satirical illustrations by Altan, Vauro, and Forattini. In college I ultimately fell in love with American cartoonists and illustrators like Daniel Clowes, Charles Burns, Maira Kalman, Chris Ware, and Esther Pearl Watson. I also have a soft spot for early Looney Toons animations by the Fleischer Brothers.
What is your favourite kind of work to make?
I love comics – they are the perfect combination to balance my personality. The storytelling nature is an outlet for my extroverted side, while writing about personal stories helps me cope with dark feelings and allows me to be more introverted. Also, the introspective and solitary process of making comics then changes when they are shared with an audience. On top of this, as a designer I simply love the hand-drawn type component, and the spacial problem solving.
You and Andy Rementer often collaborate. How does this process work? How do you divide up work?
Andy and I share both a studio and life. We bounce ideas off each other all the time, and working together is effortless. Our approaches however are different. Since he draws all the time he naturally starts an assignment by sketching, while I first look at the limitations (brief, dimensions, medium, timeline) and react to those. We end up sketching our best ideas together, and after he finalises the artwork, I help with colours and sometimes production.
We are both very organised, but I also help him with anything that is “non-drawing time” so he can focus on his art. This means project management, travel and art show planning, PR and social media.