We're big fans of discovering new talent and in Fede Manasse, we've done just that. 

Fede is an Italian illustrator currently studying in England. His work has been featured by our good friends The Gentleman Ultra, among others. We were recently blown away by his illustrations for the AS Roma English site detailing Francesco Totti's 25 years with the capital club. 

IBWM Editor-in-Chief Scott Salter caught up with Fede to learn a bit more about this project, the man behind the illustrations and what the future holds for Fede Manasse.

IBWM: Fede, tell us a bit about yourself.

Fede Manasse: Hi guys! First things first, thanks for having me. Name’s Federico, I’m Italian, from Milan, but am a University student in the United Kingdom. I have some Uruguayan heritage, on part of my dad, but for the most part my family comes from Italy – my home for the majority of my life. I enjoy writing and drawing about anything football and have got myself busy in both sectors. Some of my story telling has been blessed with the fortune of featuring on outlets such as The Guardian and These Football Times and as for my drawings, I’ll tell you all about it in a minute.

IBWM: How did you get into illustrating?

FM: Drawing has probably been my stress-getaway card since I was a child – it calms me and totally isolates me from most problems. It follows that I’ve been drawing, in my free time, for as long as I can remember. In the past few months, I’ve upgraded from paper to digital illustrations, something that has been a real game changer for my drawings and me. Needless to say, the digital enables you to avoid all the quirky and frustrating limitations of drawing on paper, be that smudges, lack of color variety or the impossibility to ‘undo’. It’s been a real blessing. Must also be said that Italian Football Daily’s Alex Mascitti, and then Blair Newman and Luca Hodges-Ramon from The Gentleman Ultra were the first editors to have faith in my drawings – something for which I’ll always be thankful.

IBWM: You’ve got Italian roots, has that inspired your passion for football?

FM: Definitely. Living in Italy, and in an Italian family, certainly increased my exposure to the game since a very young age. My father brought me to San Siro for AC Milan games on countless occasions, including a season ticket during our Scudetto win of 2003-4. Living in Italy also inevitably fueled my passion for playing the game, although I don’t consider myself particularly good. In a country like Italy, where football is virtually the national sport, playing the game can be such an important influence in one’s upbringing and in childhood social dynamics. Had I grown up say in the USA, from an American family, I think the story might be slightly different.

IBWM: Talk us through the process of an illustration. What is the starting point and how does the project develop?

FM: As an autodidact, photographs are very important for me, when drawing an existing person, as opposed to something fictional. That’s because I’ve never been formally educated about how to draw the body’s anatomy and movements. Consequently, I always need a picture of some sort to get a broad understanding of what my drawing will eventually look like. After that, it’s mostly down to intuition and to what I feel would look best. This involves the selection of color, shadows and lights, potentially text etc. etc.

IBWM: You’ve got a unique style –one we’re big fans of. How did you come about that style and how do you think it sets you apart from other Illustrators?

FM: Thank you very much. To be entirely honest, I’m not yet sure that I have found my own style – I always try to practice a variety of new techniques and am constantly seeking ways to improve on what I’ve currently got. I think that, at the moment, what I’m most looking for is a good merge between cartoon and reality. I try to make my drawings as realistic as possible, while always remembering that they are drawings, cartoons, not photographs. I’m also trying to find my own style when it comes to color choice, which can dramatically improve or worsen any given drawing. Finally, I have to credit an artist that is a source of (artistic) inspiration for me, in that I love his style and strive to achieve something similar. That is Dan Evans, or @danxdraws on Instagram. His drawings are quite simply outstanding, on both a creative and technical level. 

IBWM: We were blown away by your Totti-through- the-years illustrations. Tell us a bit about them. How did they come about? How did you go about the project and what has the reaction been like?

FM: Thank you once more, I’m glad you liked them. I was in talks with the main editor of the AS Roma English website, about graphics and illustrations in general. He then talked to me about his idea for the Totti project – 25 portraits, one per every year spent at the club by the legend himself. Needless to say, I loved the idea and also the opportunity to draw for such a big club, and to honour such an epic player. It was some really tough work, especially considering that it came about during University exam period, and my free time was limited. Consequently, I decided to draw one portrait per day, having roughly a month at my disposal to complete the project. Every day I’d spare about two hours to complete a portrait. I can tell you: by the end of the month I couldn’t bear the site of Totti’s face anymore. The reaction has been a positive one – my ‘following’ on my social media platforms has increased (though not dramatically, especially in proportion to the amount of people who actually viewed and liked the content on Roma’s social media) and people, in general, seem to have liked them.

IBWM: What’s next for Fede Manasse?

FM: I’ve got my first few features in a couple paper Mags lined up, for which I’m extremely excited. I’ve also got what I would define as a massive commission, which I have to keep secret I’m afraid, to deal with in the next few months.

IBWM: What would you say to any young fans wanting to get into illustration or to develop their own style?

FM: I’m not really sure I have any ‘fans’, while I certainly identify as a ‘young fan’ myself. But what I will say is that if you have a passion for drawing, you should definitely have a look into the digital world, which is the future, as much as the present, in my opinion. Buy yourself a tablet and a computer software to draw (the most basic ones are very efficient and moderately cheap) and just explore it, play with it, have fun. The more you draw, the more you learn and the more familiar you become with your own personal style, as well as with more conventional techniques. That’s all I’ve got.

Many thanks to Fede Manasse for taking the time to talk to us at IBWM. You can follow Fede on Twitter and on Instagram

In Bed With Maradona Editor-in-Chief