Travel back in time with Davide’s medieval woodcut prints

Today we’re talking to Italian printmaker and artist Davide Schileo. Heavily inspired by medieval and renaissance artwork, his prints frequently depict the macabre in a deeply expressive and moving way.

Check out the full interview below, and be sure to check out Davide’s Etsy shop or follow him on Instagram and Facebook!

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What do you make? What do you consider your best or favorite work?

  • Davide Schileo le mort avec le foliot
  • Davide Schileo MORS OMNIA VINCIT
  • Davide Schileo incisa woodcut

I make woodcut prints in Medieval and Renaissance-like style. In my opinion my best work is called “Le mort avec le foliot”. It is a woodcut print which includes my latest studies about Memento Mori’s iconography and Renaissance print style.

The print was born by the combination of a Memento mori and a “Ecce homo” composition: the dead represents the typical Renaissance man who poses like Christ before Pontius Pilate. He also brings a long “foliot”, which is one of the earliest models of clock, and talks about his poor condition and fear about Death.

Written on the scroll is a very sad latin poem which can be translated as:

“Three are the things that make me truly cry: the first one is very hard to accept, because I know I will die; I mourn sincerely for the second one because I will die and I don’t know when; I mourn instead for the third one, because I don’t know where I will remain”.

Tell us about your workshop

  • Davide Schileo le mort avec le foliot work in progress
  • Davide Schileo workshop
  • Davide Schileo profile

My workshop is located at home, in a room which is about 3×4 metres large. I set it up as a laboratory about six months ago, but I hope to transfer it to another room of my home one day.

During Winter it is a bit uncomfortable because of the cold, so I would prefer a place which is illuminated by sunlight and near a wood stove.

How long have you been doing your craft? Who taught you or where did you learn?

I’ve been doing woodcut for about seven years, since I joined the Academy of Fine Arts in Venice.

There the teachers taught me the basics of the crafts, then I was able to slowly develop a personal style.

Read also: Best lino cutting tools: Essential printmaking tools for block prints

Any advice for beginners to your craft?

I suggest to respect the carving material and to use knives and gouges with care. It is very easy to ruin a woodblock or, at worst, get hurt.

Another important thing: never lose your own personality in your work!

Who/what inspires you? Any shoutouts to fellow makers?

I am mostly inspired by the ancient printers and engravers like Albrecht Dürer, Hans Holbein the Younger and more.

If I think about contemporary woodcut artists on Instagram who indirectly motivate me to improve my abilities I would like to mention graphyulia, insetti_xilografi, and tomashijo.

Read also: Best linocut and woodcut artists to follow on Instagram

I also love and support the work of people I knew at the Academy of Fine Arts who share with me the passion for the Ancient Art, even if they practice other artistic techniques.

These artists are Silvia Giubilato, who paints in Byzantine and traditional Bulgarian style, and Giulia Tonon, who makes wonderful historical like dresses.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Davide Schileo Tentazioni di Sant'Antonio
Photo credit: Davide Schileo

I don’t want people to think that woodcut or medieval-ish styles are the only ways I have to express myself.

Another artistic technique I like to do is etching, which consists of carving a zinc desk through several and different acid divings. This technique makes me print a work which is very similar to a realistic pen drawing, this because of the possibility to use both powerful lines and amazing shades of grey.

One of my etching works, “Tentazioni di Sant’Antonio (Temptations of Saint Anthony)”, also won the youth prize of the International Etching Biennale of Acqui Terme last year.

Moreover, there is another kind of art I like to practice with woodcut and it is music.

I play guitar and write lyrics about the darkest faces of the Middle Ages in a metal band called “Canticum Diaboli” and I must say I absolutely love when my woodcut prints and drawings cooperate with pressing rhythms and violent riffs.

You can find more of Davide’s work on his Instagram account, Facebook page, or Etsy store called TABULAEprintmaker.

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