Manda Comisari

Manda Comisari
MFA Illustration // Edinburgh College of Art ’20

Manda creates detail-oriented illustrations painted in gouache. Her work aims to inspire feelings of empathy through the use of anthropomorphic characters faced with social, emotional or physical problems. She employs bright colours and clean compositions to let the focus be centred around her subjects. The results are socially relevant, sincere and often very sweet-natured illustrations that subtly depict the human condition.

Animals with problems is a series that introduces us to a diverse cast of animal characters that find themselves in humorous predicaments. Each problem relates to a unique characteristic, like the white tiger yearning for a new coat and the sloth that moves a bit slower than other animals. Other characters include a cheetah that runs so fast its spots fly off, a crow with so much stuff it loses its eggs and a chameleon that can’t change colour.

“In Tiger, the white tiger feels out of place because it looks different than the other tigers and is trying to paint itself to fit in. I chose the white tiger because of its mythical status as a rare and unique beauty and I wanted to convey that even such a special animal can lose sight of its worth, concerned with being more like everyone else. It speaks to the way people can feel pressured to change themselves in order to be accepted, often forgetting that the thing that makes them different also makes them who they are.

Since the beginning of our existence, humans have always had a strong relationship with the Animal Kingdom. They are interwoven through our traditions, the stories we tell, and the religions we practice. We can empathise with the tiger while still seeing the grave error it is making, perhaps even more so than if I used a human subject. Ultimately, animals help us understand ourselves a little bit better.

With this in mind, my goal has been to take that long-standing relationship and use it as a means to explore the idea of empathy in a way that removes us enough from a character to see the overall message without prejudice or bias. By using our favourite animals and putting them into humorous but relatable predicaments, we can start seeing that our differences and difficulties can bring us closer together through shared understanding”.

Manda has recently exhibited at the French Institute, the Fire Station, Flamingosaurus Rex and the International Book Festival in Edinburgh. Her work has been recognised by the AOI World Illustration, Pent and Creativity awards, to name a few.

Gouache on paper
28 x 35.5 cm

Gouache on paper
28 x 35.5 cm


2018 – 2020
MFA Illustration, Edinburgh College of Art.

2011 – 2013
BA Fine and Studio Art, Univeristy of California, Santa Barbara.

2006 – 2008
AA Fine / Studio Art, Academy of Art University, San Francisco.


Alive, The French Institute, Edinburgh.
John Byrne Awards, Online.

Bookmarks, The Fire Station, Edinburgh.
Flamingosaurus Rex, Edinburgh.
Edinburgh Book Festival.

AOI World Illustation Awards, Somerset House, London.


3×3 Illustration Annual No.17, Merit.

Clan Donald Educational Trust, Trust Awardee.
Leopold Schepp Foundation, Foundation scholar.

AOI World Illustration Awards, Shortlisted.

The Pent Awards, Silver Award.
The Creativity Awards, Bronze Award.

Other Experience

Selected Client List

Black Olive Studios
Fortune Magazine
The Bark Magazine
Petcurean Pet Nutrition
Subplot Design Studios


Lead Art Instructor, Young at Art.