Italian artist Davide Bart Salvemini lets us in to his weird and wonderful world of illustration. Keep your eyes peeled and your screen brightness dimmed.
There’s an almost childlike fantasy about his work. His illustrations are at times, surrealist, comical and touching. But they are always vivid, and moving in their own flamboyant way. He’s more than an illustrator and an animator. He’s a holistic artist, taking on inspiration from all forms – and utilising that to create his own magical pieces. And magical they are.
Maybe it’s the subject matter or maybe it’s the bright use of colour, but I always feel somewhat regressive when I see his work. The inner child in me is enchanted, whilst the adult in me is intrigued. And such intrigue is terribly insatiable. So I whipped up a few questions, and served them to the man himself.
Could you tell us a bit about your past? How did your upbringing lead you to become an artist?
It all started with a white paper and some colours. Afterwards I understood that I would never be a crazy scientist (I dislike chemistry) or an airplane pilot (I’m very tall). I thought that it would be great to make a living out of my art and on my schedules (very long nights).
In the first period [of my life] I had unrelated jobs like volleyball player, shoes seller, barman and photographer, and also a diploma in electronics and a first year in a criminology university. Then I took a master’s degree in Illustration and I realized that was my path.
Your art really reminds me of Jim Woodring’s work. Jim has previously stated that his surreal pieces are inspired by hallucinations that he experiences. Do you also have similar inspirations or is your creative process entirely different?
I’m honoured by your words, because I love Jim Woodring and his Frank!
I like to think that my mind is like a sponge, it absorbs everything that it sees from books, films, games, toys and also daily events. I note everything, building a visual atlas. Then, unconsciously linking the pieces of my atlas, I find a message and the future drawing.
Who are your favourite contemporary artists?
Observing the art in all forms, I love Simone Pellegrini’s paintings, illustrations by Sarah Mazzetti, Laurent Impeduglia, Henning Wagenbreth, Moebius, comics by Jim Woodring, Charles Burns, Cocco Bill, movies by Cronenberg, Tarantino, Lynch, Lars Von Trier, Zack Snyder, Jim Jarmusch, Guy Ritchie, and William Eggleston’s photos.
I think that it’s very essential to have many “heroes” from whom to “steal”!
Francis Bacon once said the job of the artist is always to deepen the mystery. How do you feel about this as an illustrator?
I think that the creative artefact is more powerful when the observer is thoughtful in their mind, as if he had the last piece of puzzle. In an illustration it’s more important. When you illustrate an article, a book or simply thinking, you shouldn’t be descriptive, because the illustration must only help the text, and not suppress it.
In an interview you’ve previously said that Dante’s Inferno is a big inspiration for you. Could you tell us more about that?
Between the Dante’s circles, the hell is the most fantastic and contemporary. There are more signs and beautiful character that inspired me this project: link. I love monsters and ferocious scenarios. Dante’s hell is my heaven.
If you could work with any other media, what would it be?
In this period I would like to have more time to do animation, because I think that is like to see the magical growth of an organism. But just like Nature, you need a lot of time to develop a motion. I have some experiments in this link. I hope they are interesting for you.
And finally, do you have any future projects lined up you can tell us about?
I’m working on two private commission, one for an independent illustration children’s book and the other for a series of five illustrations for a family portrait. You will see the results by the end of the year. Also I have an idea for a crazy script, but I still don’t know if it will be a comic or a children’s illustration book. We’ll see.