As part of LGBT+ history month, we wanted to take the opportunity to highlight some of our amazing artists here at Leeds Arts in this special edition of Student Spotlight which features work that was initially submitted to contribute towards our LGBT+ History Month exhibition. In this feature, we spoke to level 4 Comic and Concept art student, Celeste Zanatta.
STUDENTS’ UNION: Hi Celeste, could you maybe tell us a bit about yourself?
CELESTE ZANATTA: I'm an Italian non-binary artist. I love to draw and tell stories, and I hope to be able to share my comics one day. I love cats (I have two), rollerskating, knitting and cooking. I spend most of my time daydreaming, which is where my username "Cloud" came from (since my head is constantly in the clouds).
STUDENTS’ UNION: Haha, I love that! What type of work do you produce?
CELESTE ZANATTA: I really love to draw and design characters! I try to draw them in small comics, or illustrations. My work usually focuses on the dynamics and the relationships that they have with each other. I also occasionally produce fanart of shows I love, or of characters created by artists I admire! I am trying to be more active on social media, and show more of my work that I've kind of been hoarding…
STUDENTS’ UNION: Get that work out there! Who would you say inspires you and your work?
CELESTE ZANATTA: There are lots of artists I really admire and that inspire me, and most of them are comic book artists! I mostly love to read graphic novels, but any kind of comic catches my eye. I have a wide range of artistic inspiration, but if I had to talk about one that fascinates me, it would be artwork with surrealist undertones and poetic meaning. I am slowly trying to experiment with that kind of style, although I am still learning! It’s hard to pinpoint one! From art history, I find that I’m inspired by Gustav Klimt, Alphonse Mucha and Ferdinand Hodler. There’s also authors, showrunners, artists and studios like Noelle Stevenson, Jamie Hewlett and studio Ghibli. Then finally there are people I’ve found via social media such as Marsoids, Ruiriel, Avril Circus and Nushanchel.
STUDENTS’ UNION: That’s a pretty extensive list haha. We’ll have to make sure to check some of them out!
STUDENTS’ UNION: What does your creative process look like?
CELESTE ZANATTA: My creative process is a bit messy, really. I spend most of my days daydreaming, and 4 times out of 5 I frantically scramble to write down my daydream or ideas that come to me in a burst of inspiration. Once they’re written down or sketched, I usually let myself forget about it for a while, and then come back and rewrite/research them when I have a cool head to find the references in those ideas. The rest is mostly zoning out, listening to Italo disco, and squinting to find mistakes in the drawing.
STUDENTS’ UNION: That’s quite the process you’ve got there!
STUDENTS’ UNION: We’d love it if you could tell us a bit about the work you’ve submitted?
CELESTE ZANATTA: With this essay/comic, I talk about the confusion that comes with the realisation of being non-binary. For the comic itself, I used only black ink to create a piece with high contrast. I wanted to represent an uncomfortable and oppressing feeling. For the essay portion, I talk a bit about how there isn't really a set "non-binary look" that one can recognise, so non-binary people are constantly misgendered. This leads to complicated feelings tied to dysphoria and to the way people perceive us. I don't pretend to unify all of the non-binary experiences that exist in the world, but instead, share a bit of my experience that I hope will resonate with other non-binary and trans people.
STUDENTS’ UNION: With this year’s theme for LGBT+ History Month being ‘Mind, Body & Soul’, how do you think your work connects with the theme?
CELESTE ZANATTA: My work fits in this year's theme because it shows the struggle that non-binary and trans people face. It explores the experience of a clash between your body, mind, and soul as your body doesn't reflect what your soul wants to look like, and your mind keeps being distressed by that struggle and by how people around you only perceive your body and judge you.
Thanks for sharing that with us Celeste. You can check out more of Celeste’s work on Instagram at, @_.cloudscape._, and on Twiter at, @_cloudscape_. Also, make sure to check out our other LGBT+ spotlight with Luce Hatton here!