[Click here to read the Italian version!]
I had the pleasure to chat with Marco this weekend. You will surely know him as @marco.cheyos, a digital illustrator from Italy, class ‘91. He told us about his journey and art at 360°! What are you waiting for? Read now to discover experiences, influences and much more about our artist!
If you had to describe yourself as a person and as an artist, what would you say?
My personality and my artistic personality are each other’s product. I am an extremely empathic and sensitive person, sometimes too much. I am very curious and very sectorial in my interests. I deepen my interests to the limit of obsessiveness, I elaborate concepts with great caution and this is reflected in what I do in the artistic field. I deepen and break down the worlds that fascinate me, mixing them until the origin is no longer evident. Well.. not for me, ‘cause I went all the way to get to that point.
What if you had to talk about your art and your style instead?
My art is necessary, sometimes I think that CheYos is just my bolder, intrepid and more confident side of me. Marco stays behind the scenes to just enjoy the show. I have a graphic style that looks to illustration, influenced by Japanese folklore, graphic novels, books, music and films. But also from memories, feelings and considerations.
When did your interest in the world of digital art start?
Digital art was a recent discovery, before that I drew only and exclusively on paper. I have always looked at the digital world with great suspicion, believing (wrongly) it was a shortcut and that it had less intensity than paper. The truth is that the difference is made by those who create the product, not the product itself.
Where do you find the inspiration to create these fantastic and particular creatures?
As I wrote a moment ago: films, anime, books, graphic novels, music, experiences, considerations and weightings inspire me the most.
The animal world is a relatively recent research of mine. Previously I mainly drew women, organs, or twisted hair. I felt fossilized in my comfort zone.
I moved to the animal kingdom because it is a great challenge for me, at the anatomical level and in the construction of the subject but, above all, at a conceptual level. Making an interesting and original otter, or a monkey is much more complicated than making a female face attractive.
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It almost seems as if your works had a base tending towards surrealism, with elements that seem to refer to the subconscious and introspection. Has this current somehow influenced your journey and your art?
The basis tending towards surrealism and introspection is there but not in the broad sense of the term, not in the sense of following an artistic current. I mean it more as a mood, I have always been fascinated by subconscious\unconscious, lucid dreams, hypnosis and psychotherapy.
Which artists have left you something in your opinion?
I have some favorite artists, but they don’t belong to the aforementioned artistic current and they have a completely different style from mine. I grew up with the cartoons of Will Heisner, Pazienza, Claudio Villa (Dylan Dog’s illustrator), Davide Toffolo, Hugo Pratt. They heavily influenced my imagination, but not my graphic trait, which was instead influenced and enriched by the great Manga authors such as Masashi Kishimoto (Naruto), Eiichiro Oda (One Piece) and by my favorite tattoo artists such as Nicole Zulianello, Sean Newman , Willem Janssen. But my biggest source of inspiration is Alexander Reisfar, his illustrations make me want to swallow my graphics tablet and go back to work in the bakery.
In your works, there are elements, such as writings or weapons, which recall Japanese culture. What fascinates you the most about this world?
Your kicking down an open door! Japanese culture has always fascinated me but I only immersed myself in it in the last year. It is an extremely artistic world, delicate and hard at the same time. I love folk legends concerning animals, often alter egos of divinities or entities that carry messages and wishes, bad or not.
Do you also give importance to the symbols often used in backgrounds, or are they just for purely decorative purposes?
I’ve been waiting for this question for a long time, thanks. The symbols you see in the backgrounds are family crests of Japanese families, symbols of the Shogunate and of the most influential families. I like creating stories behind my animals, imagining them as kings and royal guards, jailers and warriors, monks and shamans. These stories remain in my head for a simple reason, I don’t want to impose anything on anyone, I want anyone who looks at my illustration to be able to imagine a story, I want the viewer not to feel obliged to think about anything, I want to give freedom of thought and expression.
Would you like to spend a few words on some of your work experiences such as collaborations and meetings?
A few years ago, at the beginning of my career, I experienced what self-production means. I participated in various self-produced art festivals, first of all the Olè Festival in Bologna where I met incredible artists and people such as Joe1, Zeta, Lisergico Ink, La Tana di Grotesquer and many others. These experiences that led me to travel between Bologna, Rome and Lucca have opened a glimmer of hope in me, seeing all these guys printing their own prints, the community helping each other, the laughter, the advice, the clashes, the meetings, the exchange of views (cit. Caparezza) made me understand that there is hope for this world, there is a desire to do, to shout out one’s idea through art, without imposing it on others, for that there are already many bad reality ready to do it.
What does art mean to you?
For me, art is salvation and hope. It truly saved my life. I discovered art (or perhaps, art discovered me) at a time when I was left with nothing but shame, self-pity and resentment. It nurtured me and encouraged me, made me feel capable and engaging, interesting and competent. It was like a pair of crutches when you have a leg broken in five places.
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