Giulio Vesprini (°1980, Civitanova Marche, Italy) is an artist and graphic designer who works in a variety of media. He has attended two major schools: Accademy of Fine Arts in Macerata and the Departement of Architecture in Ascoli Piceno.
With a subtle minimalistic approach, Vesprini focuses on the idea of ‘public space’ and more specifically on spaces where graphic and wall can be united at any given moment: the non-private space and space that is economically uninteresting can become utility space. His artworks are often about contact with architecture and graphic elements.
By applying abstraction, he creates intense personal moments masterfully created by means of rules and omissions, acceptance and refusal, luring the viewer round and round in circles.
His practice provides some graphic tools with a minimalist approach in the world of art: these meticulously planned works resound and resonate with images culled from the fantastical realm of imagination.
In a search for new methods to ‘read the city’, he creates work in which a fascination with the clarity of content and attitude towards conceptual and minimal art can be found.
His work doesn’t reference at recognisable form but Vesprini focuses the results in one word, the word that he love: “Archigraphia” where he deconstructed this concept to the extent that meaning is shifted and possible interpretation becomes multifaceted. He has obtained various awards and publications related to his graphic design, wall paint and illustration work.
Giulio Vesprini is a writer turned street artist active since 2005, and has always brought graphic design and a passion for architecture to his urban pieces. Since 2009, he has curated the “Vedo a colori” (“I see in color”) project, which aims to develop the harbor area of Civitanova Marche and has transformed it into a lively whirlwind of colors and street art. In 2013, Vesprini founded his firm, “Asinus in Cathedra”, and began researching “Archigraphy”, i.e. the relationship between graphic design and architecture. His “cultured” approach to street art stops him from self-glorification out of vanity and ego, and instead spurs him to give his art meaning and always evolve his personal style. We had a chance to chat with him, and here is what he told us.
How did you evolve from graffiti to street art?
Like many other artists, I have a background in writing and graffiti: it’s the “entry level” in the field, and a required experience to come to street art with a sound, solid discipline. I started at 14, and continued until I enrolled in the Fine Arts Academy; at that point, I quit “walls” because my professors were markedly against it. I didn’t quit the street – where I continued to express myself through installations, videos and events – but didn’t pick back up a marker until 2007. I started back from square one, leaving lettering behind and developing a figurative style instead. Finally, I studied Mondrian and geometric shapes, to which I added botanical elements to represent nature taking back its space. For the past few years I have focused a lot on the color red: it is so energetic it gives me strength, as if it had chosen me and not vice versa.
Why did you stop using spray paint and move on to a more “essential” style?
Because I had explored all the potential spray paint held for me: while I could see other huge talents around me, I could not evolve further, and I needed to tell my own story in a different way. I didn’t want to stop at a single form of artistic expression, either. We are guests in the world, as well as in art. When you get to the bottom of one level of communication you simply become redundant, and end up lying to yourself and to others. I don’t want to get into the politics of it, but I consider any form of art a form of communication.
Which work are you proudest of?
The one I created this year for the Cheap Festival in Bologna, a poster art event that invited artists to contribute their creativity. I worked on a 140-by-3-meter wall, where I posted up 56 1-by-1.4-meter posters. I produced six works, inspired by the six quarters in Bologna. I am particularly fond of it because it was also my chance to launch “Archigraphy”, a concept I began studying in 2013.
What is Archigraphy?
I have a passion for both architecture and graphic design. At one point in my creative journey, I wondered if there could ever be a way to merge these two souls of mine. Can an amorphous form entertain a dialog with space? Can art painted on a wall help a building “say” something? I didn’t want my works to be a celebration of technical prowess, but a means to convey a message. And I could see that thanks to my work for the Cheap Festival passersby were drawn into the art: they observed it and become active participants in it, instead of disappearing on the small sidewalk, between the traffic noise and heavy city air.
What message do you want to convey with your art?
My works communicate different messages, but the reaction I always hope to spark is, “What am I looking at? I don’t understand.” I want to “annoy” people and spark emotions to awaken their senses.
You often add numbers and letters to your works. What do they mean?
I add “G00” – “G” is my initial – and a progressive number to identify the walls I am doing in this same style. Inspired by Kandinsky, I never name my works but title them “shape 1”, “shape 2” and so on. Words strengthen the visuals. Now that pure Abstractism is in fashion, we run the risk of leaving behind a mountain of demystified signs, a desert of straight and curve lines with no meaning. I add words to signs so they can spark new meaning to a vision or a thought.
Your approach to street art is very “cultured”…
Yes, it is. I study a lot and still have connections to the academia. I think intuition is not enough to make art anymore: you also need hard work, discipline, research. Many street artists simply follow trends – and of course their own passion – but can’t back up their work with culture.
What advice can you give to young street art talents?
Although I know it sounds counterintuitive, I’d say get an education. Just the frustration of having to take the same exam for ten times is great experience. In life, you can succeed only if you are used to working hard to achieve your goals. We have to go back to a rationalist way of thinking and put function above aesthetics: that’s why you need discipline. I would advise young talents to “ask” a lot of those they look up to, to pose a lot of questions. And to travel – to understand and get to know other places. Go to exhibitions, read books, watch movies and cultivate anything that feeds you.
What is your philosophy of life?
My motto is “Recte agere, nihil timere”, which is Latin for “Righteous actions fear nothing”. If you work with passion, behave well and don’t cheating, then you have nothing and no one to fear.
Why did you call your graphic design firm “Asinus in Cathedra”?
Because I like to side with humble and tenacious asses (translator’s note: “Asinus” is Latin for ass or donkey, which in Italian is used as a familiar synonym for a foolish or ignorant person), rather than with “know-it-alls” who sometimes get what they want only by knowing the right people. It’s an ironic, self-deprecating name. In the photos for my website, I even wore a donkey mask.
You are an architect, graphic designer and street artist. Do you think you’ll have to chose one of the three one day?
I think my different souls will continue to coexist. I must admit street art is quite consuming: it’s not something you can go on doing your whole life – so a lot of artists at a certain age stop painting and start organizing, curating or something like that. My goal is to set up a creative firm that can be “open” to architecture and graphic design, where I might have more of a creative director’s role. The truth is, I’d give it all up if only I could be a postman.
Would you really give up on your art?
I think it would be wonderful to know people and bring them their letters. Perhaps I wouldn’t quit street art, perhaps I’d just continue without any impositions, with enough serenity to finally really “blossom”. Right now, deadlines and deliverables always keep me on my toes. But constantly working takes away our time to study and improve ourselves. If I could work as a postman in the mornings, then I could work on my projects at night. That would be heaven.