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Moon Mane: sleepless nights in the name of stargazing and illustration

Benet Zaganjori, the creative talent behind Moon Mane Design talks us through his tattoo-inspired designs, his love of stargazing and illustration and the owl piece he recently created for us.
Tell us about yourself and how you got started as an illustrator.

I’m an illustrator based in Florence, Italy. I’ve been drawing since I was a kid, but I never really thought about pursuing an artistic career until early 2018. After finishing my studies in Design and Art History I worked a couple of different jobs unrelated to the artistic field and I soon realised that I wasn’t doing what really makes me happy. So, I decided to follow my passion and start working as a freelance illustrator.

How would you define your style?

Well, I would define my style as heavily tattoo inspired and somewhat dreamlike. I like to combine different elements that have not much in common, to create something unique or at least different.

Where do you find inspiration for your work?

I really like classical/traditional art. Especially caravaggio’s works with his heavy contrasts between light and dark and the surrealism of René Magritte. But I also get inspiration from mythology, nature/wildlife and of course through my strong passion for tattoos and music.

How do your designs develop from concept to finished piece?

Usually, I do some research on the project’s subject matter, looking for some inspiration. Then I start developing an idea in my mind of what the final result should be. After that I start sketching, trying to replicate my vision as accurately as I can. I don’t really sketch that much, I like to add or remove different elements as I go.

Which illustrators/designers today do you admire the most?

I would say that thanks to Affinity Spotlight articles, I have found some really inspirational and very talented artists. I really like the works of Diego Omega, Manuel Camino, Chris Rathbone, Dennis Gabbana and Vladimir Ilic just to mention a few. Regarding the tattoo industry, which is a huge influence for me, I’m definitely a big fan of Vitaly Morozov’s work.

How do people typically react to your work? And what do you hope they take away from your designs?

I get mostly positive reactions to my work, constructive feedback is always appreciated. I usually try to send a message through my work, but as long as people take something out of it I feel like I did my job, even if it’s not what I wanted to communicate. After all, the message behind an artwork is directly related to individual life experiences.

Where did your artist name ‘Moon Mane’ come from?

Well, Mane is just an alternative pronunciation of Man, the Moon part is related to my love for Space elements. Sometimes I enjoy stargazing while drawing for hours on end, but unfortunately, it leads to a lot of sleepless nights.

Tell us how you discovered Affinity Designer and what made you continue to use it?

I tried the desktop version of Affinity Designer for Mac first and I loved it. Once I found out that there was an iPad version I got it right away and I’ve never stopped using it since. In my opinion, it is the most complete design app available at the moment. Combined with the versatility of the iPad, it’s just a must for every designer out there.

Talk us through the owl piece you recently created for us.

The owl piece I made for Affinity is definitely one of my favourite designs. For this piece I used some of the elements that I love the most, like the moon in the background, the flames and the night sky. The goal was to express a sense of total freedom and the majesty of nature.

“The goal was to express a sense of total freedom and the majesty of nature.”

The making of “Owl in flight”
How long does it typically take to create a piece like this?

It really depends on the complexity of the main subject. Usually, it takes me 10 hours, more or less, for every design, but I love to put in as much detail as I possibly can—even though it’s not visible without a good zoom in, so it can take way more time.

How do you hope your work will have evolved over the next five years?

I look forward to further developing my style in a way that allows me to convey a message, whatever it might be, to my audience as clearly as I can. I’ll definitely keep using most of the elements that I use today, just because that’s what I love drawing.

What would be a dream commission for you?

I’ve really enjoyed working on most of the commissions that I’ve done so far. As long as there is enough creative freedom and trust from the client, I’m happy.

What’s your ultimate goal as an illustrator/graphic designer?

I would like to turn my passion for drawing into a long and successful career. After all, if you love your job you will never work a day in your life. I’ve still got a long way to go but I really hope to make it someday.

Check out Benet’s Instagram to see more of his stunning designs.