Today, I'm very happy to introduce the most talented gentleman whose self-portrait (above) also graces my article, Vampires: Our Love-Hate Relationship...Ivan Leone. Ivan is originally from Italy, now living in London.

Welcome to our blogsite, Ivan, make yourself at home and tell us a little about yourself.
Il benvenuto al nostro blogsite, Ivan, si fa nel paese e ci dice un piccolo circa lei. Begin at the beginning.

Hi everybody! I am really proud to be part of your blog as an artist, that's actually what I feel like I am after my 8 hours daily work.
I was born in 1982 in the Southern Italian region called Lucania (from Latin "Lucus" - land of woods and wolves). I grew up in a little village called Oppido Lucano, an old village where Ancient Greeks and Romans used to live. You still can find buildings and houses of that period. I have got two fantastic brothers who moved with me to Milan, hundreds of miles from my lovely lands. They're called Antonio and Davide, a few years older. I got a Diploma in Accountancy at "Leonardo Da Vinci" Accountancy School in Acerenza, a village close to mine that could have something to do with the Holy Grail, just legends.... but... who knows... you know? At school, every year I used to Student President and I was always in trouble with teachers! But I still love them. Why move to England?! I'd answer: "Why leave Italy?". Well, the main reason is just to improve my English, three or six years, maybe one year, and put it on my Italian Curriculum Vitae. But actually I don't know. Different things happen in your life, you can drive them away or not, and sometimes you stop and say "There must be something wrong...", then you decide to start again or to change completely your life. And I went for the second option. I just wanted a change. It's hard to have your parents far away, your friends, your lands, but that's what I chose. "Chi piglia la strada nov, sap che lassa, non sap che trov" as Lucani say. You know, Italy has a lot of dialects really different from each other, and that's mine. Why London!? Actually I wanted to move to Miami, where I know a person who could help me in the beginning, but lots of people just suggested me to go to London first: Miami would have meant such a strong decision, England is only 2 hours by plane from Italy. That's it. So, welcome to London!

In your e-mail to me, you apologized for your English but I must say it's better than some people around here speak. I'm not one who thinks the entire world should speak my own language so I'd like to compliment you. Where did you learn?

...whereas I think English is already the official language of the entire World and that is cool, now every country should teach English to people since childhood. I've always liked English: at school I always got good marks even if I didn't study at home, but in class I concentrated (when I wanted to...) So I learnt some English at school, then, last year I started to study seriously at home by myself. Last July I attended a course of a month with some Mother Tongue Teachers to get used to the accent, and to get ready for moving. It's not that easy! Especially the British Accent: they speak so awfully!

As for your coming to America,I know a bevy of lady writers who'd be eager to meet you! Bet we could have a ball at the Romance Writers' Conventions around the country! I'm sure they'd be signing you up for cover photos right and left!

Let's not talk about Romance, please! I'm looking forward to meeting and kissing each hand of any charming lady writers!

As you might deduce, a good many of our readers (and writers) are authors of romance novels. I've written a few myself, although I lean more toward sf/fantasy/horror. Do you like to read, and if so, what types of book do you like?


Well, actually I've always loved music, I was always playing or listening to the music but sometimes I like to read books about science, nature or history.

On myspace, you've said that you like "raitre". Is that the Italian government broadcasting system? What shows do you particularly like?


Yes, it's the 3rd one. Then there is the Silvio Berlusconi Broadcasting. I love Raitre because of his political and economic investigations about my Country. I think they just tell the truth as much as they can. Then Raitre often shows documentaries about Nature, strange and amazing places of the world. And great movies as well.
The program I like more is "Report" that is the one which investigates about Italian and world Policy. Yes, I do love it.

I see you also like Al Pacino, a man who makes too few movies in my opinion. Any particular favorite of his films?


Few movies but..... have you ever seen "The Godfather"? Is that really like the Italian Mafia in the States? Cruel.


In some of your pictures, you're playing a guitar and the drums. You certainly seem to have varied taste in music. Is there any particular type you like over all your favorites? Is this a type you play? Are you in a band?

Right. I moved to Milan just to study music at one of the best Italian Music Schools, the CPM. It was my dream since I was 15. And I did it. But after 2 years I had to stop because of a problem with my arms, tendinitis: Working and studying at the same time isn't that easy. It's been really hard to accept that, but "C'est la vie" as the French say. Now I can play drums, my favorite instrument, but not studying them, too stressful for the arms.
There was something missing in my life. That's why I bought a camera.. I needed to make, to create, to do something artistic. I'm not good in drawing, so I went for a camera, a little one. Then I found out that I like that so much, I bought a professional one. But music is my favorite hobby. I actually don't feel that I'm a photographer, but a musician, and maybe not even a musician... The music I love is Jazz and all the Black music coming from Southern US: Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, Billy Chobam, John Mc Laughlin, Weather Report. what I usually play is funky-rock-soul-blues. When I moved to London I auditioned with an Australian singer, she was about to choose me, but she went for another drummer. Then I found another band, called "Sinner in the Mirror" (www.myspace.com/sinnerinthemirror), two guys from England, one from NY. I'm enjoying playing with them so much even if our speaking is not that much, I still have difficulties about my "understanding", but music is an international language, isn't it!? After a couple of weeks, Sangeeta Lee, the Australian singer contacted me again asking if I was still available to play with her. And I answered: "How can I say NO to such a wonderful lady like you?!

And along with that--you're playing your first London gig with her...tonight...at the Comedy Pub in London. Any of you readers who will be in the area, go there...to the Red Room...and be entertained!


Is "Leone" a very common name in Italy? There are several others I can think of, among them Sergio Leone, the director. Is he a relation?


Yes, it's a very common name, especially in the South. There's also an ancient pope called Leone. But I'm not related to anyone.


Do you have a camera with you at all times (as I do) in case you see a subject you'd like to photograph or do you go out on "photo-jaunts" with the specific idea of looking for things to capture on film?


Photography is just a hobby: I don't have skills to do it professionally, but I'd like to, maybe working with some professional photographers as an assistant... we'll see...
It depends, sometimes I bring it with me for several days, sometimes I don't either touch it for weeks. But I've got my mobile phone! Not the same, but...

I see where you're listed as an amateur photographer in photographers.com and fotografia in italia. Have you ever had an exhibition or put on a show of your works anywhere? Are you doing anything to change your amateur standing to a professional one? Do you want to? Or are you content to be a "talented amateur?"

I don't feel to be talented, if I was I'd definitely work as a photographer. I just enjoy taking pictures that I really like, sometimes I go out for photo jaunts and look for what I've got in my mind, as a drawer, but I need to find a real place, or a real person, that is different. But I'd like to do it professionally, as I was saying, maybe as an assistant.


As an artist, I'm intrigued by the variety of subjects in your photos--so many of them are very emotionally charged, such as the scene of the moon shining on the empty street with a red tint to everything...the town built upon the hillside with the mountains in the background...your shadow thrown against the back of a futon...that dark blue lake in the mountains...the boat chugging through the water...those mini-portraits of your hands and feet.... Other than the photograph I used for my blog, I think the ones which impressed most are the other self-portraits...the one with the wide-brimmed hat, your face highlighted in reds and ambers...and that beautiful nude--the folds of the blanket backdrop draping down to following the curves of the body, the stripes in the pattern of the cloth directing the eye back again and again toward it, the smooth, unobstructed lines of a body compacted into the small space of the camera's lens....


I'm glad you like them. The self portraits are just practice about taking pictures indoors of a human body: you know, models cost too much, so I just said: "Why not of yourself? You're cheaper!"

When you posted that particular photograph, did you have any doubts about doing so, or were you confident that anyone seeing it would view and appreciate it as the work of art that the human body actually is?

I actually don't care if it's appreciated or not. I'm not in a competition. Napoleon used to say: talk good or bad about me, but talk. Anyway, the same thing can be appreciated by one person andnot by another. For example, for a Photography Teacher, that one would not be that good. We don't have the same tastes...


I've noticed that many publishers use photographs from fotolia, etc., for their covers--and I remember recognizing certain pictures which have ended up on covers--have you ever thought of doing photographs with the specific intention of their being used as book covers? Frankly, I'm surprised the one I chose hasn't been snapped up by The Wild Rose Press, Lyrical Press, or one of the other romance publishers.


Well, my aim is not to make money with photography. Not all pictures are Art. And the ones you sell, often aren't that, they're just commercial... But why not if someone ask to me to take "just that picture" for his book cover? Between art and business.


I suppose I should draw this to a close. I find myself wishing this was a teleconference so we could have a live Q&A session, but the budget doesn't cover that--yet. Before we go, is that anything you'd like to add?


I wish we'll have a live Q&A session as soon as possible. I just wanna add a big hug to you, Toni! And everybody who are reading these words. Thank you very much. I hope to come to US one day and meet you all.

God bless America!


Ciao!

In closing, let me thank you for taking time out to give this interview. As they say in my part of the country, "Don't be a stranger, now!" No' la t รจ uno sconosciuto, ora. Feel free to visit us from time to time and if you feel like sharing a photo or a comment, or would like me to make an announcement for you on any of these blogs, please don't hesitate to ask.

Grazie ancora,
Ivan!






(The photographs in the video accompanying this article were taken by Ivan. His work can also be seen on www.fotolia.com and on his blogsite at www.myspace/ivanleone.com. Tonight, Ivan is making his London debut at the Red Room at the Comedy Pub, with Australian singer, Sangeeta Lee.)

5 comments

  1. Mona Risk // November 21, 2008 at 4:45 PM  

    Bionjiorno, Ivan,

    Your self portraits are great. You are so talented on many fronts and your English is so good. Io parlare une pocco pocco Italiano. I am sure I messed up with this one sentence. I visited Italy several times but never went to Milano. Welcome to the Pink Fuzzy Slipers. If you ever come to Florida, let us know.

  2. Nightingale // November 21, 2008 at 5:34 PM  

    Hope his London debut goes well. He is definitely a multi-talented man. Thanks for introducing us to the man behind the handsome face.

    In the event you visit, Ivan, I lived in Miami once--fun city!

  3. Mary Ricksen // November 21, 2008 at 5:49 PM  

    Is he available? I am in West Palm Beach and would love to meet him. He's so continental.

  4. Mary Marvella // November 21, 2008 at 9:21 PM  

    Toni and Ivan,

    I enjoyed the questions and the answers, especially the answerer! Thanks for sharing yourself.

  5. Beth Trissel // November 22, 2008 at 8:49 PM  

    Wonderful interview. Very interesting. Thank you so much, Ivan, for sharing about yourself with us.