Cristian Grossi is a very interesting illustrator. To me, his style is very abstract and it also has a hint of mysteriousness attached to it. He is also a texture designer and has created some amazing prints for clothing. Today, it is my honor to have him on Swide and I hope you will enjoy his work as much as I do.
Cristian, thanks for letting me to feature you on Swide today and, of course, I have a few questions for you to let the Swide readers understand your work more. Being a fashion illustrator is not easy as there are so many newcomers everyday. I am just wondering, what was the biggest struggle you had when you first started this job? How did you tackle it?
When I started it was hard to show my work around because everybody told you that a great illustrator should have his own style which has to be highly recognizable. I never had it and I don’t care so much for it: I try to learn new techniques each time I start a new project. When a closer friend ask to me “is this yours?” I feel satisfied.
Maybe you have not noticed, but I do believe you have a unique style. Most of your images are very whimsical with a touch of mysteriousness. Well, I know other than fashion illustrator, you are also a texture designer as well. What is the main difference between these 2 jobs?
I feel they are closer than what you could think. Illustrating and texture designing are made of two basic elements: decoration and emotion. You only have to change your point of view to change the proportion of the elements: If you are doing texture design, your canvas is physically limited to a scarf, a textile square or the shape of a dress. If you are illustrating, the canvas has no limits.
I never really thought about emotion in texture design but now, I will pay more attention to the images on clothing pieces. Speaking of texture design, I am attracted to your Ariel Scarf collection. Where do you get your inspiration from? Do you have a specific guideline when designing these scarves?
I often work face to face, in direct contact with the fashion designers. They guide me with accurate inputs and suggestions. This way it becomes a four hands work, and the quality can't do anything but better from the first draft to the final executive. That's the case of this successful series for Pinko. For what concerns my personal style, I tend to get images from my world: retro embellishments inspired by Erté, lysergic colors and figures stolen from my dream-like imaginary. I tried to recreate a contemporary mood with balancing kitsch and a new formal elegance.
At this moment, my only wish is to dive into your dreams because I feel like they will provide some traces for me to see your world. So, is there a specific message you want to pass to the audience through your works?
My work is kitsch and I like that because it is a little insecure. For me, illustration is the right combination of spontaneity and dedication: there is an interesting conflict between them. It’s the thing I like about illustration, the absolute non-logical but rigorous technique behind it. You must know and understand all the rules to destroy them in the creative process. I think in my field, when you obtain total abstraction whilst maintaining the communication impact, this is a kind of poetry. In semiotics, the medium is the message, in Illustration the first medium is not the paper or the pencil but the illustrator himself.
You are right, I think you have achieved the communication part but making your illustrations abstract. Let’s get back to your works. The girls you have illustrated in your works are very unique. If you had the opportunity to bring them to life, what role do you think they would be playing in the real world? Also, what kind of personality do you think they would have?
I can not think of them as real.They are abstract symbols, are emotional graphic concepts. I am a boring person, usually I tend to represent concepts.
For this, I have a different point of view. I feel like they would be existing in the post apocalyptic world. They would adopt to the new environment and become one of the major players in the world. Now let’s move to another topic. I realize insects have been included in some of your works. I am just wondering, why choose insects to be part of your works? In real life, are you an insect lover?
My curiosity about the world of insects comes from a close observation of my mother's fear of them. Yes, I like to observe when my mother is scared by centipedes. I realize how thin is the aesthetic tension between fascination and repulsion when I illustrate insects as decorative elements on the female figures. I often show insects when I do workshops for children, and I enjoy very much the chorus of "oooh" and "bleah" they unleash.
If I were one of the children in your class, I would probably be screaming instead of going “oooh” since I am not a huge fan of insects. So, out of all the pieces you have done so far, which one is the most challenging to do? Why?
I approach each work as a brand new challenge but the most exciting was my video art project. It was not easy, but it was very interesting to see how my fashion illustrations could work in video art (on a different media/creative field/ ...) and how I could combine two different grammars into something new.
Those videos are very interesting and I hope you will be able to make more in the future! Other than videos, I also notice that on your website, you have a lot of animated gifs. Which one is your favourite gif? Why?
Yes, I love the animated gifs! it's an epic, ancient technique with a lot of potential, it's very cool. I think so because it incorporates the idea of Tableaux Vivant. In general, I love when the movement is minimal, and requires careful observation. The one I love most is fashion is vomit. There is a disgusting aesthetic combined with a delightful floral contrast.
Fashion Vomit is actually one of my favourite series out of all your works! They are so beautiful! Here is my last question for you: what do you think of the Dolce & Gabbana Fall/Winter 2013 collection? Do you have elements you like from this collection? Why?
I feel very attracted by the contrast between opulence and elegance. It 's very interesting to see how the excess decorations on the clothes produces a new concept of sobriety. Exquisitely graphic and decorative, this new use of ornamental lace is undoubtedly the most attractive of the collection. The baroque frames the body and makes it precious like an iconic illustration.
Credit: Cristian Grossi