In the studio with Livia Carpineto, an illustrator whose visual practice is driven by the potential of delving into a kind of collective imagination, shaped upon art and life, resonating with both personal and shared stories. We met with Livia to tell us more about growing up in Rome, their greatest influences, and unexpected sources of inspiration.
When did you first begin to see yourself as an artist?
The decision of embracing my passion for art represents a commitment to my creative self. As I decided to dedicate myself to my artistic practice, I saw this as an act of loyalty towards my inner joy and desires, and as a way to challenge myself to a greater extent. It was after I started feeling such a strong sense of commitment and passion towards art that I also began to see this as part of my identity.
Where are you from and what was your upbringing like?
I was born and raised in Rome, Italy. Rome is a fascinating and nostalgic city, a bridge to the past. I grew up engaging with the art and history that surrounded me in my everyday life. This has shaped me and inspired me greatly, in ways that I am still progressively discovering as I continue to grow as a creative and individual.
Paint us a picture of your artistic journey. What inspired you to first pursue, and then continue to practice artistic work?
Since I chose classical studies at school, I didn’t have any art classes. However, I used to obsessively scribble, entertained by the narratives that would spontaneously unfold in my head as I was drawing. Therefore, I decided to attend an evening illustration class in Rome during high school, where I shared my work for the first time with other creatives. The passion and enthusiasm was really contagious, and I began to feel like there was purpose in my work. Soon after, I moved to London to study illustration, first at Camberwell College of Arts, and now at the RCA.
What’s the message of your work? Where do they come from?
Through drawing, I aim to give shape to my inner world, and make my perspective accessible to others. It is primarily a means for communication and self-expression. I am particularly interested in portraying the feminine, by constructing, and deconstructing archetypal characters. My inspirations are varied and mutable, but I believe that what truly fascinates and speaks to me on a deeper level will stay through time and become part of my personal visual and poetic domain, like the tiles of a mosaic. Marvel, memory, and resonance guide me in selecting my influences. I would describe my aesthetic as baroque, gothic, oneiric, grotesque at times, and generally vintage, and cinematic.
Who & what are your greatest influences?
Classic, Medieval and Renaissance painting and iconography. Kitsch and grotesque motifs. Short stories, as they can be extremely visual as a literary genre, as well as silent, illustrated narratives. Mythology and folklore. Cinema, gangster, and western films because of their subtly fabled quality, and their archetypical plots and characters.
An unexpected source of inspiration?
Souvenirs, mementos and funerary art.
What do you want people to take from your work when they view it?
I aim to create images that might be felt at once remote and familiar, inspired by a personal, and yet universal, symbolic network of associations. I hope that my audience will spontaneously resonate with the work, and simultaneously feel surprised, and intrigued by it.
What events in your life have mobilized change in your practice?
Moving to London from Rome to study art has definitely made an impact on my practice. Experiencing a change of setting, and travelling, has inspired and challenged my creative perspective. Additionally, discovering new tools and techniques has allowed me to broaden my practice and acquire confidence in my ability to communicate using a personal, and specific language through drawing. I try to balance experimenting with refining my skills. I like to gradually incorporate new elements into my process, while mastering my preferred techniques.
What are your ideal conditions or catalyst for creating a “good” piece of work?
Maintaining a fresh perspective throughout the process, favouring a spontaneous approach rather than a rational, and rigid one. Researching, sketching, experimenting with layering, composing, and associating different elements allows me to make precious incidental discoveries.
Tell us the inspiration behind your works?
‘When the Ball Fell Beyond the Fence’ explores themes surrounding the ambiguous
nature of the garden, seen as an ethereal,and yet dejected, place and as a theatrical environment, where enchantment and fiction join decay. The ball accidentally thrown beyond the fence becomes the narrative expedient to temporarily escape into the dreamlike garden scenery. Fantasy is a glimpse of chance, mystery, and desire in the eyes of the viewer/intruder, depicted in the image.
Something in the future you hope to explore?
In the very next future, I plan to experiment with scale and texture, reproducing my artwork on a range of new materials.