Elenia Beretta’s gouache technique brings Italy’s popular export to glorious life in her first picture book.
Love pizza, or looking for a gift for the pizza lover in your life? Then check out this beautiful picture book from Elenia Beretta, an Italian illustrator based in Berlin.
We Love Pizza: Everything You Want to Know About Your Number One Food gives an entertaining introduction to the dish which connects the world. Many cultures and countries have developed their own interpretations, and this colourful book looks at it from every angle. There’s also a German-language version called Wir Lieben Pizza.
Within this 40-page book, you’ll discover how to make dough from scratch and uncover inspiration for toppings, from classic to the surprisingly strange. You’ll learn about its history, from the beginnings of the dish in Naples to its migration to North America and around the globe, as different cultures added their own spin on it.
You’ll encounter different ways of eating a pizza and different places you can eat pizza. Plus, there are oodles of fun pizza facts. Did you know, for example, that the Hawaiian pizza was actually created in Canada?
The book is a real passion project for Elenia, who was born in Bergamo, a small town at the foot of the mountains in the north of Italy. Of her style, she says: “I paint by hand using the gouache technique on 100% cotton paper. In the last few months, I’ve introduced some fluorescent colours to my palette to create more contrast.”
“I like the idea of gouache because of its texture,” she continues. “But also because it’s natural. It’s a media that can be used differently: similar to watercolours but thicker and more compact.”
Elenia finds influences from different fields such as movies, old photographs, art and literature. “My favourite illustrators are Quentin Blake, Maurice Sendak, Alice and Martin Provensen, and Tomi Ungerer,” she says. “And I’m also very inspired by painters such as Matisse, René Magritte, Henri Rousseau and Picasso.”
Illustration hasn’t always been her main focus. “I started my studies as an advertising graphic designer and then worked for six years at Santini Maglificio Sportivo,” she explains. “But after many years, I realised that I wanted to make a change in my career and be able to paint by hand instead of digitally. So initially, I started as a self-taught artist, then went on to study for a Master’s degree in Illustration for Editorial Publishing in Milan.”
She moved to Berlin in 2017 and now works as a freelancer in a small studio near the Neukölln Canal for clients including The New York Times, Vogue Magazine, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Internazionale Magazine, Zeit Magazin, Instagram, HuffPost, the Washington Post and others. She’s also the co-founder of Drawing Nights Berlin, an open drawing event which provides an opportunity to diminish barriers between professionals and non-professionals.
As well as launching We Love Pizza, Elenia has illustrated books and children’s books for Little Gestalten, Éditions Cambourakis, Eli Readers, Rizzoli Editore, Einaudi Editore and Rebel Girls. “In the future, I hope to publish more books and continue to illustrate the world around me,” she says.