December 2, 2019

One of the most memorable parts of the publishing process for my next novel We Came Here to Shine was commissioning the custom map (above) that will appear at the front of the book. It was a wonderful experience working with the artist Silvia Gherra. For the whole behind-the-scenes story of how the map came to be, click here. Below, a short interview I did with Silvia about the project:

Q: What did you think when you were approached about this project?
A: Since it was the first time I was illustrating a map for a novel, I was really interested and excited. I am a curious person and I love new challenges.

Q: What was your favorite part about doing this project?
A: For sure studying the contents from an infographic point of view, jumping into the past in terms of style and atmosphere, and then having an amazing connection with my work partner… Susie and I had the chance to meet each other in person in NYC last September, and that was gold.

Q: What did you find most challenging?
A: Working in black and white / grayscale [for the original version that will be printed in the novel] when I had so many layers of information to draw. I am a color-palette maniac in my projects, so I missed the color a little bit. I was excited when Susie asked me to do another version of the map in color to be used for marketing purposes, because then I was able to have fun with applying the color in different layers.

Q: What else are you working on?
A: I am working on a new book cover and I have several corporate illustration commissions at the moment. I love them as they give me the opportunity to create little visual worlds with a bit more freedom than editorial commissions. My new webpage is almost completed; I am publishing it on Christmas Eve, like a little Christmas miracle.

Susie and Silvia

A working breakfast with Silvia in September 2019 in NYC when she was visiting from Milan.

Bio: Silvia Gherra is an illustrator and designer based in Milan. She attended Visual Communication courses at the University of Central England and Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London; earned her masters at Politecnico di Milano; and then specialized at Jose Luis Merino Studio in Barcelona. Since 2006 she has been a freelance designer and consultant for publishing, industrial, and educational institutions at an international level, mainly working on corporate illustration projects, editorial graphics, and illustrated maps. Her work has been featured in compendiums such as All About Maps (Laurence King) and DPI Magazine “Art Quartet” 2017, among others. Selected clients include Bloomingdales NYC, Coolgrayseven NYC, Condé Nast, Il Sole 24 Ore, Johan & Levi Editore, Gruppo Editoriale l’Espresso, Marni, Mondadori, Museo Poldi Pezzoli, Pinacoteca Giovanni and Marella Agnelli, and Preferred Travel. She is a lecturer at Politecnico di Milano Fashion Design Department and at Istituto Europeo di Design (IED) Visual Communication Department in Milan since 2013. Silvia is also the co-founder of RITARITA, textile and fashion research studio based in Milan ( Follow Silvia on Instagram at @silviagherra_illustrator.