Let’s get to know artist Riccardo Guasco and his very original campaign dedicated to kindness
Have you ever reflected on the difference between being kind and being polite? With his Piccola campagna inventata per la tutela della gentilezza, Riccardo Guasco underlines the importance of kindness. Through famous luxury fashion logos, he wants to draw our attention to the small gestures and words that add style and beauty to our world. You don’t need an expensive bag to be fashionable; try wearing your best smile and a big “thank you” instead. And now we will pass you on to Riccardo Guasco.
Tell us something about yourself, your background, and your artistic production.
I am an illustrator, I love 20th-century avant-garde art, the affiches from the ’30s and ’40s and the old comics of Il Corriere dei Piccoli. Unfortunately, I haven’t experienced any of them, but I have a vivid imagination, and I love drawing what I see and make it mine. My work as an illustrator began gradually about ten years ago. At first, I experimented with signs, shapes, and ideas belonging to my academic studies and published them on a personal blog I kept as a sort of online notebook.
Over the years, I received the first commissions for brands and magazines, and I slowly went from working as a school teacher to working as a full–time illustrator while nurturing my passion for drawing. Illustration has led me to discover fields that I would have never imagined to explore – fashion, packaging, publishing, design – and perhaps this is what keeps my passion for drawing alive.
How does Italian culture influence your work? Do you let the language inspire you?
It can be difficult to depict the Italian culture if you are Italian because you may be so used to certain flavors, landscapes, and colors that sometimes you don’t even perceive them as such and seem almost obvious and trivial to you. However, I am in love with them, and I have tried to rediscover, reinterpret and communicate them in my own way. Perhaps I love it so much when I have to work with an Italian product, be it a landscape, a dish, a wine, precisely because I am surrounded – almost immersed – by them. The Italian language is a hotbed of ideas. Every word, error, or variation that can stem from a word allows me to create new things. Many of my works are only “half alive” if you don’t read their Italian title!
How did the campaign for kindness come about? What reactions and reflections did you want to provoke?
It was born by chance, when I was in the checkout line of a supermarket and I saw a guy with a dark t-shirt and aggressive rock writing, recalling the t-shirts of ’80s metal bands. Once I got closer, I realized that the word was very sweet – abbracciami or something like that. But it worked: “dressing” a word in a particular font attracts your attention and influences its meaning. It is all about creating a distance between signified and signifier, between what people think they’re seeing and what they’ll realize later.
Why did you choose major fashion brands as a vehicle for the message of the campaign?
As they are very well-known brands, familiar to our eyes, they are effective as bait to get the attention of the distracted passerby. I was sure that they would have attracted the attention of many people, even of those who aren’t very interested in graphics. Also, I liked the idea of “dressing” nice words up with luxury clothes to give the right importance back to words that seemed to have lost it but still have a noble soul.
Canadians are famous for being very polite and apologetic, and often say “sorry” even when not necessary. What do you think about it? Would you like to say something about this to ScuolaScuola‘s students of Italian language and culture, who are mostly Canadian?
I think I would feel very comfortable in Canada! I use polite forms whenever possible, too. It helps me set a calm and peaceful atmosphere with people I don’t know and immediately establish a more relaxed and creative dialogue. Of course, I don’t mean by this stiff politeness made up of formalism or formulas that are repeated almost meaninglessly; a sincere and straightforward permesso?, grazie mille, si figuri, accompanied by a smile, will do.