Gattaldo: ‘Never judge a book by its cover. Cliché, but we all need to fight our own innate prejudices’

 Award-winning creative director, children’s author and illustrator Gattaldo tells all in our Q&A

Gattaldo (Photo: James Bianchi/MaltaToday)
Gattaldo (Photo: James Bianchi/MaltaToday)

Gattaldo is an award-winning creative director, children’s author and illustrator living with his husband in London. He is a guest at next week’s Malta Book Festival where he will also be launching the Maltese edition of his children’s picture book “Fearless” (Il-Ġurnalista, L-istorja ta’ Daphne Caruana Galizia) published by Klabb Kotba Maltin.

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?

I croak good morning to husband and plants, then shave while avoiding the mirror (quite a feat really).

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

You need to believe in yourself before others can.

What do you never leave the house without?

My curiosity.

Pick three words that describe yourself

Perfectionist, empath, fractious.

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?

My most recent project.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?

Watching re-runs of Little Britain (2003 BBC comedy).

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?

Never judge a book only by its cover. Sounds like a cliché but we all need to fight our own innate prejudices.

Property and cars aside what’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought?

Mail order husband.

What is one thing you wish you knew when you were younger?

Not to go for a mail order husband.

Who’s your inspiration?

Singer Mina Mazzini has been an inspiration for as long as I can remember, but last year I became best friend with another Mina – Mina Boromand, an Iranian revolution fighter back in the late 70s, whose life was one continuous adventure. She has recently reinvented herself in London, returning to university to study photography. We support each other creatively and emotionally.

What has been your biggest challenge?

Overcoming procrastination.

If you weren’t a creative, what would you be doing?

In childhood I wanted to be a dancer, Raffaella Carra, to be precise.      

Do you believe in God?

I do understand that faith brings with it comfort to many, but my life journey has led me to believe that a personal god is a delusion.

If you could have dinner with any person, dead or alive, who would it be?

Yeshua bar Yosef.

What’s your worst habit?


What are you like when you’re drunk?

I never drink enough to be drunk. I flirt outrageously when tipsy.

Who would you have play you in a film?

Indya Moore.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?


What music would you have played at your funeral?

Lou Reed’s ‘Walk on the Wild Side’.

What is your most treasured material possession?

It’s just occurred to me that there’s nothing material I wouldn’t part with.

What is your earliest memory?

Kicking and screaming, not wanting to let go of mum for kindergarten.

When did you last cry, and why?

The scene in ‘Years and Years’ TV series by Russell T Davies where Russell Toby’s character dies trying to cross the English-channel with refugees.

Who would you most like to meet?

I was planning to meet Sicilian photographer Letizia Battaglia but she died before I could. I’m hoping friends will introduce me to writer Roberto Saviano (hint, hint).

What’s your favourite food?

Whatever I haven’t yet experienced.

Who’s your favourite person on social media right now?

Artist Justin Wong on instagram (@little_pink-man).

If you could travel in time, where would you go?

My great-grandmother Signora Olga’s house in Senglea at the end of the 1800s before she lost all to the Russian Revolution. I wish to see for myself the stories my grandmother told me as a child.

What book are you reading right now?

Haven’t packed any with me on my visit to Malta because I wanted to source Claudine Cassar’s ‘The Battle for Sicily’s Soul’ locally.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?


What’s one thing you want to do before you die?

Beat myself up less.

What music are you listening to at the moment?

FKA Twigs.

In the shower or when you’re working out, what do you sing/listen to?