I was born in Italy, at Castello d’Annone, near Asti, in my grandfather’s brick kiln.
Since I was a little girl, I loved to play with clay and the raw bricks, which I used to assemble into lots of different ways.
There was a little pig called Rilli, and with a series of small grunts, I managed to communicate with him quite well.
I had a small pair of scissors which I used to cut out lines of paper dolls all holding hands together; the adults were amazed at my manual dexterity.
I took possession of some grandfather’s registers in which he kept his old accounts, made redundant with the passing of time, and in them I drew all the farmyard animals around me.
When I was five years old, I left for Argentina together with my parents to reach an uncle who was a sculptor. He had fled from Italy years before, because he had had the courage to express his opinions, for which he was persecuted by the fascists.
My life at Buenos Aires, changed completely: from the countryside I found myself in a huge metropolis, which struck me for its vast dimension, and its cultural vivacity, which I would come to appreciate later. In the newspapers at Buenos Aires, cartoon strips held an important space.  
When I lived there as a girl, there was Héctor Oesterheld who recounted the stories of Ernie Pike, Hugo Pratt who drew them, and Mordillo, Quino, Oski

My father built a rudimentary machine for me to project pictures, so I drew picture stories on tracing paper, and organised shows for my friends.
I would have liked to go to a school to learn the art of becoming a cartoon strip designer. But when the moment to choose arrived, my passion for buildings prevailed, and I chose architecture.
I studied architecture for four years at Buenos Aires, and taught elementary school pupils in the meantime.  
On my return to Italy, I stopped over at Barcelona to see Gaudì’s constructions, and fell in love with Güell Park, especially for the collages of broken tiles, and his lopsided brick arches.
I completed my architectural studies at Turin, where I met a strange group of students.
In particular, there was one studying philosophy, who wore an old black loden coat and a trilby hat, which had a hole towards the top as if a bullet had passed through it.  
He was called Francesco.
We exchanged carton drawings, and a few kisses.
At the time we were at the Children’s Book Fair in Bologna, and destiny decided for us, under the guise of an editor, who welcomed us on his stand and proposed that we create a book together.  We wanted to stay together, doing the same activity. We liked drawing, and we liked the idea of a younger public. We started to work, and we continued to do so for many years. We have written and illustrated more than 180 volumes, and our works have been translated in about 20 countries.

Then a new passion for animation took hold, and we created, with various characters, 138 episodes in co-production with the RAI, broadcast in many countries.
A new adventure is underway: a long series, the first European co-production with CCTV the national Chinese TV, with the participation of the RAI, and the independent producers Phenix.
Its all extremely interesting, but incredibly challenging.
One night I couldn’t sleep, and I was looking for something to do. I picked up a few broken computer parts, some old scrap pieces used for previous animation projects. Their appearance somehow fascinated me, and I began to put them together to create happy looking characters desperate for life. Before they were only useless pieces of scrap which had reached the end of their days, now they had a new identity.
I had discovered a new working method, and a different freedom, to that which I was accustomed to, with book illustration and animation.
It’s so true, that the whole is something different to the parts of which it is made. And that a new work develops in a continual dialogue between the imaginary, and that which gradually takes shape. For those who look at the fantastical characters I create during the night in my workshop, I leave the freedom to perceive the joyful message that each one of them longs to transmit, or the playful task of recognising the single elements from which they are made.

Cristina Lastrego


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