All Images Stefano Perrone
SOL chatted to Milan-based Self-Taught Artist Stefano Perrone about his jump from the world of Advertising to the Arts, his practice of Vectorealism, the Digital world and how he hates to repeat himself.
Has creativity always been a part of your life?
Definitely, since I was very young. After high school I decided to study Industrial Design, after I graduated I did a master in Art Direction and I started my job career in the advertising world as a creative, working for big companies like Saatchi & Saatchi or McCann. But after 3 years, I was tired and bored because the creative part of that job was quite flat. So I decided to start working for myself, and in 2016 I started to work full time as a self-taught artist.
One of your earliest memories of an image that impacted you and pushed you to the Arts?
I was still studying at university, but already working full time as a junior graphic designer in a local visual communication studio, and among the other job duties, we used to work with art galleries and installing shows and art fair stands. That was my first real approach to contemporary art. But the episode that really pushed me to art was my first encounter with Francis Bacon’s painting, ‘Portrait of Michel Leiris’ (1978), during a exhibition in Milan. It changed my life.
As someone involved in the field of Art, aesthetics plays a vital role- what does it mean to you on both a professional and personal level?
Aesthetic is fundamental to me. Aesthetic is a matter of harmony and balance, balance between colors, shapes, composition and subject. In the last years, especially in the emerging art, ugliness, randomness and imperfection are characteristics of the new aesthetic; there can also be harmony in ugliness. As you can control randomness and that there is order in chaos.
You previously worked in Advertising- tell us about this experience and how it plays out in your work.
My first two years as an art director at Saatchi & Saatchi were amazing. I thought I found the job of my life. But it wasn’t. After a while I realized that nobody really cared about my ideas and I was just executing someone else’s project, or even worst, I was executing my original idea revisited many times by someone else. It was extremely frustrating. This is one of the reasons why I decided to quit.
The second reason was that I was tired of producing digital files, spending 10 hours a day looking at a Mac making images. I needed to get my hands dirty and make stuff that lasted and I could touch with my hands.
In your Artist declaration you coin the term Vettorealismo tell us about this.
I’ve coined this term to describe my practice. ’Vettorealismo’ (vectorealism) is a personal representation and figuration of reality with the use of vectors. My practice combines the use of gradients and lines (vectors) that shape and run all over my paintings. It derives from digital illustration, but while the digital illustration are perfect, because they are responding to mathematical laws, the paintings are imperfect, because they’re handmade. The imperfection makes the painting alive.
What inspires you on a daily basis and where do you go to find it?
We are constantly bombarded by thousands of pictures. And if you are an artist and you have an Instagram handle, you see artworks, exhibitions, art fairs all day in your feed.
Basically I take a picture with my phone every time I see a daily situation that grabbed my attention. Most of the time the light and shadows play an important role in the decision. Usually when I’m able to immediately translate the situation in front of me with a combination of lines, shapes and gradients it means the subject is the right one.
I also collect pictures of works from other artists. You know everything has already been done. You just have to combine different things to get something new. Travelling is the experience that inspires me the most.
You live in Milan and the Salone del Mobile just took place- what did you think of it and do you make of the relationship between Art and Design?
To be honest didn’t have great vibes from the design week. I mean, the city is on fire during Salone del Mobile. Events everywhere, same for the art week, lots of people. But most of the people are just interested in the party and nights out. There is also a big problem: Overproduction. Too many products, too many images. And this is ruining and eroding our criticism, and self-criticism. Everything is accepted, everything is allowed: Design is merging into Art and Art is welcoming Design. Designers are becoming artists, basically if you remove the seriousness from product design, it automatically becomes Art. And this is what a lot of artists are currently doing.
What do you think is the future role of the Artist, especially in this digitized world we live in?
The role of the artist is definitely the role of a critic. Since everyone at the moment is allowed and able to produce images, products, movies, ‘Art’, the role of an Artist is to raise the audiences’ consciousness and criticism. An Artist should make Art for himself, however in this era of social media, the Artist is feeding an audience that is constantly asking for new feeds. If you don’t keep feeding, you’ll loose the contact. I also think that overproduction is not good, since the number of artists is growing day by day. I think artists and galleries definitely have to fight this new mechanisms created by this digital era. It’s extremely important to bring the audience back to the galleries and the exhibition spaces, where you can really understand the value of a painting.
We are in an era where the photo of a painting is more important than the painting itself.
For the sake of art, I think artists in the future should stop sharing their works online and on social media.
Do you believe in creative collaboration and if so are there any creative you would like to collaborate with in the future?
I don’t believe so much in creative collaborations. I’m a free spirit, and I don’t like putting limits to my fantasy and my creativity. I guess it is also because I still have bad memories from my time in advertising industry, where too many people were judging and changing my ideas. But I would definitely like to collaborate with a fashion brand or with a music label, only if the brand respects my work without denaturalizing my practice for business purposes.
Are there any exciting projects on the horizon for you that you can mention?
I have been invited by a international residency program that I will join in the next months. And I’m going to start a new body of work for an upcoming solo show which will take place at the end of the year.
Where can one creep on your work?
I have an Instagram handle which I constantly update @perrone_studio
I also have a Tumblr page which acts as my website: perronestudio.tumblr.com/
And finally your famous last words.
I Hate to repeat myself, I hate repeating myself.