The illustrations of the Berlin-based visual designer Nicola Napoli fascinate with their vibrancy, wit and outspokenness. Delve deeper into his work and discover the source of his artistic undercurrents in our interview.
Prismatic depictions of nighttime debaucheries, surreal scenes critiquing the current world affairs; those are the distinctive works characterising the style of the Italian-born digital artist. Growing up and studying in the artistically-stimulating, chaotic city of Naples, he then relocated to Berlin to push his career forward in an even more explorative and open-minded environment. His illustrations have since been connected to Berlin in many aspects, from promotional flyers for Berghain to creating a 3D installation for Absolut Vodka related to the urban alterations in Berlin; the influence of the city has become undeniable.
I first came across your work at (now closed) “the CLUB,” where you had an exhibition in August 2014—it was actually the first opening I visited as a freshly new Berliner—; a lot has been going with your illustration ever since! What has been your favorite commission so far?
I must say I was always very lucky with commissioned jobs, in most cases my clients trust in my choices giving me a lot of creative freedom. If I had to choose one favorite project I would probably pick up the communication for Berlin-based party Buttons. It was the very first time my illustrations were turned into animations (thanks to the wonderful Alvaro Caminero). So fun to see the final result!
Your works often remind one of hedonistic celebrations from ancient times, but depicted in a very pop, almost futuristic way. How did you develop your style?
I was always deeply fascinated by the aesthetic codes of ancient times, references of Greek and Egyptian cultures are constantly recognisable in my work. When it comes to my style I would say I have a ‘washing-machine’ approach, I absorb and centrifuge everything I like around me: trends, art, people, movies, music, cartoons, childhood memories and – why not? – even trash culture.
Do you base the characters or scenes in your drawings on real life events?
I always describe the real things I see around me, even if then I develop them in a more personal and surreal way. My first artworks were mostly focused on my first years in Berlin and on my exploration into the club culture of the city. More recently I started to take a broader view of what surrounds me, focusing on our society changes rather than on individual experiences.
For instance, my latest artwork (Mediterraneus) takes a critical view of the current European migrant crisis. Now more than ever, with all the violent changes happening around us, I think Art should get people’s attention and make them open their (sometimes-too-sleepy) eyes.
You’ve collaborated with Berghain or Pornceptual, for example, but business aside – what is your favorite place to party in Berlin?
Maybe this will sound predictable but Berghain is still at the top of my list! Another party I would never miss is Cocktail d’Amore at Griessmühle.
Can you tell us a bit about your upcoming plans?
I’m already working on new illustrations, I would like to show my work more regularly in galleries and exhibitions. And of course there will be more flyer artworks coming out in the next months.
Our current topic of the month is “Light.” What do you prefer, light or darkness?
Darkness, of course. But with an emergency light.
We’re always looking for new talents to feature on Kink. Is there someone you like (from your local scene) you would like to recommend to us?
The greatest thing of living in Berlin is that you constantly get in touch with talented people. This year for instance I got to know Greek photographer Kostis Fokas, who used to live in the city for a couple of months. You should definitely check his work, it’s even more absurd than mine!
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