“It doesn’t make sense to me that the ones most credited on the public scene and in common consideration right now are nothing but copies of copies of people who have already copied someone else before.” Giulio airs this thought when we ask him about social media and the current fashion scene.
Giulio is a multifaceted graphic artist, illustrator and general all-around designer extraordinaire working from his studio in the central Italian city of L’Aquila. His work has been selected by Madonna and featured at the prestigious Cannes Lions Festival and at San Francisco’s edgy Gauntlet Gallery. From portraits of pin-up girls, illustrating the cover of Boom Magazine Asia, designing textile prints for a fashion line, and designing a tattoo for Bon Iver, Giulio’s career is varied and exciting.
Looking at his art, you can see the wide appeal of his work. His sleekly modern girls are mysterious, looking steadily out of their frames in an unsettling – but beautiful – way, forcing your eyes back for another examination time and time again. Filigree swirls of lace curl around the necks and faces of many of the portraits are echoes of Giulio’s interest in Alphonse Mucha, the Art Nouveau illustrator. “Most of the time my focus is directed toward mixing apparently non-related styles, merging them into a cohesive new style.” Giulio says.
We spoke to Guilio about his path of mastering Photoshop (he’s self-taught), finding inspiration from Kubrict and Klimt, staying busy with design jobs on Capri, and where he aspires to take his career next.
Tell us about your story and artistic background:
“I consider myself a passionate self-taught creative person. I’ve drawn for as long as I can remember. There were always craft supplies and art books around the house, and I think it came naturally for my inner creative instinct to manifest itself through drawing, sketching, coloring and anything else related to art, since I was exposed to creativity at a young age.”
“I’m intrigued by the connection between images and words; finding the message beneath the pure surface of a picture and also trying to discover what the intent of its creation was, its inspirations and its likeness to things I’ve seen previously, is interesting to me.”
How did you decide to become an illustrator?
“It was back in 2010 when I bought my first digital tablet. It was a cheap one, but it did the job at the time, and I started learning how to replicate what I was used to doing on paper with the tablet. I’d just graduated with a degree in communications and I think my goal back then was to find a job in the advertising world. Long story short, I started searching the web for requests for that type of work, and I found out design could have been my path.
How did you start making a name for yourself?
My first clients were mostly from the USA, looking for a refresh of their companies’ image. Then I started selling my works on POD (print on demand) websites and that helped me get more visibility and requests from all over the world and, finally, I got recognition even in my home country, Italy. In the last ten years I’ve trained in and studied a lot of different subjects connected to design that have helped me build a more professional approach to jobs and refine my skills.”
Was there an event or specific job/work that made your career turn around?
“Yes! I had 2 special moments happen in the same week. The first was being selected by Madonna for her “Art for Freedom” project. It was exciting to see my work appreciated by such an incredible creative and well-known artist like her. The second was when I got a call from Adobe (you should know, Adobe Photoshop is my favourite tool for digital painting) to create a portrait which was printed on a huge canvas and showcased at the entrance of the 2017 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. That was a huge push to keep going with the design career ‘cause it made me feel if the pros were requesting my work, it could only mean I was headed in the right direction.”
Is there a message behind your creations?
“There’s always a message waiting to be translated according to the observer’s values and interpretation. I’ve received many comments and appreciations through the years, and I can tell you each person reacts to my work differently. For example, when talking about my portraits, many are attracted by the colors, others by the realism.”
What are your main artistic and creative inspirations?
“Any aesthetic that catches my attention and interest. It could be a painting from the past or modern photography; maybe well-designed ads of the 60’s, or the latest hit fashion campaign. I deeply love works from Warhol, Klimt, Kubrick, Mucha and Gruau, as well as works from great tattoo and street artists.”
What are you working on at the moment?
“I’m working on various projects. I collaborate with an incredible art director from Capri and we’re working with companies on this amazing island and others in Milan. From beauty centers to high fashion boutiques, restaurants, hotels and clubs, fashion brands and magazines, it’s always a matter of trying to balance different types of design needs such as logos, magazine layouts and covers, textile design, social media managing, illustrations, web designs and so on – and I’m enjoying it a lot!”
Top 3 brands you would love to collaborate with?
“Dreaming big? I’d say Adidas for a colorful tees collection, Tom Ford for an eyewear line, and maybe a fancy mobile brand for promo ads. That would be extremely cool!”
What would you change in the fashion/artistic scene today?
“I’d eliminate the concept of trends and create a social law forcing people to credit the original authors. I know copyright protection already exists, but apparently it’s not enough! I also don’t really like all these social media influencers’ prominence. Everyone deserves their own platform to express themselves, and I believe there’s
enough space for everybody, but the mainstream influencers/models are much too similar to each other, so there’s not enough attention for those who differ from these imposed standards.”
What inspires your work?
“My inspiration depends on the type of work. When it’s a commission, I try to absorb the client’s explanation of their vision and convey those thoughts and words into a visual. In my personal work, I like to draw female portraits, animals and decorative patterns. Usually I let my imagination flow, led by the colors and the overall composition. If I unconsciously deliver a specific message, it’s unintentional.
What I aim to deliver could be summed up as “originality”, which should be every creative person’s goal. It’s kinda hard nowadays, I know, but we should at least try to be original and have fun creating.”