Born in 1984, Francesco Bongiorni is an illustrator who lives and works between Milan and Madrid. Francesco is into images of all sorts, but comic books are his main passion. He loves the storytelling of comics, the impact of painting, and the meticulous detail of etching. Illustration enables him fuse these different languages together.
Every two months BASE welcomes an artist selected with the help of Illustri, an association that brings together established and up-and-coming illustrators. The artists spend a week with us, staying at casaBASE, working in our project house, the burò, and taking part in the initiatives underway at BASE. The creative output of Francesco Bongiorni’s residency became the poster for BASE’s Design Week 2018 magazine.
We asked him to introduce himself by sharing what drives his creative process, with the help of a few treasured possessions.
“In my “box of tricks” I keep a ruler. I feel that lines in drawing have to be straighter than they are in reality. Some toy soldiers remind me that straight lines should be bent every now and again, and that rather than always being a “good little soldier” we need to set new challenges for ourselves. I’ve also brought with me a souvenir I got in Death Valley, where I came across the residence and theatre project set up in the ’60s by Marta Becket, who managed to turn a random point in the desert into a launching pad for artistic experimentation. This symbolises the importance of exploration and of looking beyond in order to get off the beaten track and drink in the history of a place, allowing yourself to be led by its symbols. I also carry around a boxer’s mouth guard because you always need to be ready to play defense. In my job, the first thing you have to learn is how not to get clobbered, how to keep your distance and stay on track while respecting the limits they impose on you. You have to get to know yourself, stand up for your own style and, above all, know the value of your work and not sell yourself short. I’ve also dug out an old deck of Magic cards which I invented at high school. They remind me to treat drawing as a kind of game, but they also represent my passion for detail. The cards are in black and white and in different styles, mostly inspired by etching. Etching is the form of expression that I find most inspirational because it’s descriptive, it tells a story, and that’s what I’ve been trying to do since I was a little kid: weave stories through drawing. But the first thing to stimulate my imagination was my family. My grandfather passed his passion on to me, as well as the courage to see artistic expression as a job. I’ve brought a few of the wooden statues that he used to carve and which I still find at different markets. They were used on the set of a few American films including Edward Scissorhands and When Harry Met Sally.”