Dark, Erotic and Fantasy. Ranging from pirate theme to the Mediaeval, from the Egyptian to the fantasy of North European style.
The figurative expression of eroticism makes her feel free: breaking with the conventions of the female illustrator who embodies the stereotype, created over the decades, that wants female illustrators more oriented to children’s books and fairy tales than to the representation of sexuality and female autoeroticism.
In this oportunite we met Ester Cardella, the 29 year old from Palermo who is conquering the web: she had a great success at the Palermo Comic Convention (Italy) 2021.
Ester Cardella, a talented cartoonist
–Tell us a little about yourself, who is Ester Cardella? What is your background?
-Hi everyone, I’m Ester Cardella, I’m 29 years old and I’m a freelance cartoonist. I was born in Palermo and I still live in there. I studied at the School of Art and at the School of Comics, both in Palermo. I’m a heavy metal lover, who has a gothic style and loves old school tattoos and horror movies. It wasn’t an easy ride for me, which was probably what I needed! I hate being bored, I hate monotone days, habits, the cyclicity of things.
–How did you start illustrating? how did this become a job?
-Ever since I was a child I’ve always loved to draw, but thanks to my studies, I’ve managed to be skilled and work with the ink and learn about new drawing techniques. I believe it is essential to know the techniques and rules beforehand and before you call yourself “professional”. In order to be original and to be able to talk about art, you have to take it and own them, break them down and rebuild them according to your suitability.
Thanks to the power of social media, I have always been able to advertise my work. At first, I was very judgmental, but then I started receiving job offers and I took the plunge! I also draw horror stories set during the Middle Age, which has been published by “Ink” publisher.
Though, after about a year, I felt this wasn’t really my niche. I wanted to talk about something else while using more my feminine side, my erotic influence, the real me. I wanted to get my point across and talk about being independent. From that moment I toke on the challenge, I risked and now, I would never go back.
-How do you ink your boards? Would you like to tell us more about how you practise your art and which techniques do you use?
-The most beautiful and fun stage of the creations and illustrations is definitely the inking technique: I work exclusively with my hands. I love making mistakes and finding solutions, getting my hands drenched with ink. I use brushes and felt-tip pens, white acrylic and gel pen to add special effects, brushes, sponges, chopsticks, you name it! I usually spend from 8 to 20 hours just inking. I have an eye for detail and I’d fill in any empty space on the canvas.
-How do your erotic illustrations come about? What message do your illustrations want to convey?
-My erotic themes illustrations have been created for a very specific need, which is to give voice to all my aspirations and experiences. In addition, I wanted to get rid of any taboo that could potentially suppress any form of freedom. I am now in charge of myself as a woman and I do it through my own art.
–Who is your typical client?
-I was lucky enough to be able to create and count on a network of contacts that is so diversified. I receive commissions from all over the world. In fact, I have sent my original works to many countries: United States, England, France, Mexico, Spain, Slovakia, Australia and many more. I work with both collectors or simply with fans of the genre. Initially the majority of my customers were only men.
I think it’s a kind of modesty and pride that we try so hard to hold, when in fact there’s nothing wrong with what I draw. There is never any violence portrait or no one subjected to it. The characters I draw are happy about what is happening. It’s all a game.
Sometimes couples, fan of BDSM or musical groups who need covers for their album, ask for work commissions. Though the clients I love the most are the shy ones. They can barely talk about what they want without showing any form of embarrassment. I like this type of customers and I like to make their wishes come true.
-How important is it for you to have collaboration and solidarity from women for your art? Would you like to tell us about your experience?
-Since I am allowed to be completely honest, and happy to do so, I can confirm that a lot of women from various age groups see me as a mentor, an example to follow. I have been told phrases such as ‘thanks to you I can express myself without fear.’ and I must admit that I am still deeply moved as I was then; mainly because I know well how much I have worked on myself to reach this stage. Women see me as an example to follow and I am the happiest person ever as this is the biggest compliment I could possibly receive. I’m ecstatic because for me it’s the best reaction I could ever wish for.
I support all my colleagues and other artists and I think it’s mutual. Those who don’t reciprocate (mainly because they are shocked by my art) actually make my work more valuable, because indeed creating scandal is one of the many things I enjoy doing.
One very peculiar thing that happened to me was receiving a DM on Instagram from an Islamic woman who complimented me and said “I wish I was free as you are. Unfortunately, if I put even a single like or I decide to follow you, I will risk a lot.” She thanked me for doing what I do when in reality, I was the one that ended up thanking her a million times.
-In the past few years there has been much controversy and public discussion about the hyper sexualisation of the female body. How do you relate to the issue of objectification and hyper sexualisation of women in today’s society? Can you give us your point of view?
-The women I draw are not objects. Let’s overturn this vision we have always been given: we are the main subject; we are the main characters!
Drawing for me is not just a job, it’s a way of sending a message while talking to both men and women about how I would like us all to be: simply free to do and show ourselves as we please, being able to express freely our sexuality without caring about any judgement. In my work we live our sexuality as the most beautiful thing in the world. It is not imposed, it’s not a sin nor something that dictates our value. In order to be able to state this, I had to work a lot on myself and step away from those ideals that have been imposed on me in a subtle manner by society.
If I were to give attention to those who think I sexualise my characters, I certainly wouldn’t have achieved the results I have today.
-Have you ever received criticism? if so, why? Please expand.
-Here we are with THE question: yes, few but good. Once I was told that since I was drawing these topics surely, I had to be a sex offender. A pervert, in fact!
I honestly had a laugh and I didn’t feel offended at the slightest. I believe that the person who criticized me was likely the one having issues with sex.
-How did the comix go? Would you like to tell us about your experience?
-Comix went really well as far as I’m concerned. I also launched my silkscreen t-shirts I’ve been making recently. These are still available and you can buy them directly from my website, as soon as it will be online. T-shirts have been sold pretty fast, a lot of girls bought them and really liked the product.
One of the clients I was impressed with the most was a mother with her 13 years old daughter, who absolutely wanted to buy the t-shirt with the graphics of a nun practicing autoerotism inside a church, while holding a bible in her hand.
I had the opportunity to meet new people and put myself out there more. I had wonderful chats with everyone.
-Do you have any Project for the future?
-I have so many projects. Firstly, I would like to stay independent and diversify as much as I can. I’m very happy that my original works and prints have reached so many parts of the world. I also would love people to wear more of my designs, I think I will do more t-shirts.
-Finally, feel free to send a message to our readers!
-I am a very passionate person, I always put my heart in what I do even if sometimes it’s not enough.
You have to study a lot and commit yourself by giving up few things. If someone judges you for what you do, take a moment to process it but don’t make any excuse for anyone. If your intentions are good and true to yourself, people will appreciate your work anyway. And if it takes time, please have some faith, it will happen sooner or later. Don’t let anyone tell you what your career path is. Be your own boss and don’t be affected by anyone’s opinion.
Be true to yourself, explore yourself, look after yourself, but first of all, love yourself.