Wednesday, November 28th, 2012 | 92 Comments
Milan’s loss is Toronto’s gain as artist and illustrator
Johhny Cobalto brings his own delightfully twsited mesh of characters to new horizons.
Q. You recently moved to Toronto from Milan. What brought you here? Has your work been influenced at all by the change of scenery?
A. Well… I can say that the last year has been full of huge changes. So, I decided to move here as a joke in this March, looking for something great. Two friends of mine who play in the rock band Sorry Ok Yes were contacted by an agency for few shows in Toronto, and when you got itchy feet like mine, you can’t really miss the boat.
Regarding the artistic matter, I can’t say if the transfer has produced changes in my works yet, but this city is very inspiring and full of art so… I’m sure I will do a lot of stuff.
Q. You’ve done art in a pretty diverse range of styles, shifting this year to a simpler, looser, hand-drawn aesthetic. How would you describe your style?
A. Ah! Good question. Someone has compared my works to lowbrow art or pop surrealism and yes, I reflected in that styles. I’m always looking for better interpretations of what I imagine: it’s cool doing a good job, feeling it right and reaching your goal. I love to play with weird characters in my works and merge them in a kind of texture with particular objects and shapes. I love chaos and I like to fill my drawings with a lot of detail; sometimes to tell a story and sometimes even simply improvising.
Returning to the style’s speech, I can resume it like this: my stuff it’s just a chaotic, soft, weird dream.
Q. Your recent gig posters for Pump This and Sorry Ok Yes are awesome! Is music a big part of what inspires you? Can you tell us abit about these projects?
A. To be honest I’ve to say that no, music is not really a muse for me. Well, I love to draw while listening to good music, but it’s not basic in my work progress.
By the way, the project with Pump This was born also a year ago when I met the founders of this great night (and not only) event made in BolognA. They contacted me for the new season’s posters of the show after three years of collaboration with amazing italian illustrators like Tristan Vancini, Fidia Falaschetti and Andrea Moresco, so for me it was an honor to carry out a project in which these great artists had taken part.
The project was immediately clear: create something between ad and art, something that anyone could find by street and pin up in his room. I’m really feeling good to work with Pump This’ staff. It’s awesome to have the chance to express your art conveying a message, and it’s also a great way to get to know my art. So…hell yeah!
Regarding Sorry Ok Yes, I’ve known them for a few years. Initially I made the cover of their first cd (“Rubberized”) and then I edited a music video for the song “Bipolar Girl” (one of my favourite!). As I said, I decided to follow them to Toronto and now I draw their gig rock’n’roll poster.
Both projects were very exciting for me and gave me a lot of satisfaction, so…I have to find other people like them and then I can die happy.
Q. Your drawings are packed with some pretty insane characters! Where do they come from?
A. Since I quit smoking pot (lol), my characters came just from my imagination. I know, this is not a good answer but sincerely, it’s rare for me stop and thinking about a precise subject to draw; I only do what my hand suggests me in that precise moment (I know, this is a pretty stupid speech).
I like transforming animals into persons and vice versa, add extra eyes and deform their usual aspect into something weird. Yeah, just do what I feel. No more.
Q. Who are some of your favourite artists right now?
A. Jeremyville, Gary Baseman, Gary Taxali, Low Bros, Eboy, Mauro Gatti, Olimpia Zagnoli.
Q. What would be a dream project for you?
A. Design types & poster for a Wes Anderson movie or a Joe Lansdale’s book. Yeah, should be amazing.
S&TM: Thank you Johnny for taking the time to do this interview with us.
All images © 2012 Johnny Cobalto.