Ale + Ale

The rules of our Five Questions interview series are simple: we send each of our guests a long list of questions. Some are serious; some are . . . not so serious. They choose their favorites and respond.

Our guests today are Ale + Ale (Alessandro Lecis and Alessandra Panzeri), illustrators of I Like, I Don’t Like.

1. If you had to summarize your book in ten words or fewer, what would those words be?

A reflection on the differences and the rights of children worldwide

2. Which book or artist has done the most to make you who you are today?

We were very influenced by:

  • surrealism, especially by the painters Magritte and De Chirico—their atmospheres remind us of the psychology of the unconscious and the world of dreams
  • the artist Gianluigi Toccafondo, from a point of view of style, because of his way of merging painting with photographs or movie images
  • the art of the past—we love the history of art from antiquity to the present, and often we quote it in our works
  • the cinema, because we usually build dynamic illustrations similar to snapshots (elements that come out from the page cutting and different planes of depth)
  • the photos by Gabriele Basilico, for the study of the image composition, the use of strong contrast between light and shadow, the perspective and the charm of the architecture

3. When and why did you start working together?

I Like, I Don’t Like

We met in a stage of illustration 16 years ago, and we started to experiment together doing four hands illustrations. In the beginning it was like a game, and then it became our job, even if it’s always a sort of game. We found that our skills and our universes merged well together and our style is born from the union of our two personalities.

4. What is your process for working together on a children’s book?

Our basic technique is collage and montage of photos mixed with colored pencils and acrylic. This technique is good to be worked by four hands because we start with the research and the choice of photos and we discuss together the composition of the image first. Then we realize the image, later adding artistic pictorial touches and more free intervention. It’s difficult for us to say who did what on the illustration as we exchange the image with each other several times in multiple steps during the working process, as team work.

5. What’s the best advice you can give to aspiring illustrators or artists?

Don’t be discouraged, always try to aim high. Know and love the history of art and always be open to novelties, not only in the field of illustration but also in the other arts. Find a personal style—at the beginning it’s good to copy the artists you love, but then you have to learn to find your own style, which should reflect your personality and your interests. Each of us has a unique feature; you have to trust in this and let it go out of yourself.

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Ale + Ale is the creative team of Italian artists Alessandro Lecis and Alessandra Panzeri, who have been working together since 2000. Although they fantasize about creating collages in a space-ship orbiting earth, they can actually be found at their studio in Paris. To see samples of their artwork, visit