Italian illustrator Alice Piaggio sums up her artistic style in three words: “Colourful, crazy, ironic.” Her vibrant, dynamic illustrations are, in her own words, “full of things and sometimes completely lacking in sense”. For example, a pink dog barking into its own butt and a caterpillar woman in red high heels. Tottering in big chunky shoes and gesticulating expressively with their oversized limbs, Alice’s characters march into our frame of vision with a playful, purposeful energy.
Since graduating from the ISIA in Urbino, Alice has undertaken numerous commissions, as well as continuing to experiment and develop her style with personal illustrative works. She is also a co-founder of Pelo Magazine, a biannual publication run by a collective of 25 young illustrators, which addresses themes including sex, phobias and fake news with irreverence and irony.
In the world of illustration, Alice’s influences are Beatrice Alemagna, Květa Pacovská and Olimpia Zagnoli. Beyond illustrative artists, Alice also seeks inspiration from Pablo Picasso, Hieronymus Bosch, M. C. Escher, Salvador Dalí and Henri Rousseau – “madmen and visionaries”, as she describes them. Her varied and far-ranging visual references feed into her practice when it comes to composing and crafting her artworks. As she says: “I like to change and experiment with various techniques: acrylic, digital, Ecoline water colours, pencils and collage.”
Speaking of the projects that most appeal to her creativity, Alice tells us: “I like to work on picture books – it’s my passion and it’s what I’ve studied over the past few years. I also like to collaborate with magazines – one topic, one illustration and time pressure. It’s very exhausting but exciting!”
One such recent project was a series of illustrations for the Italian sporting magazine Rivista Undici, on the topic of Wimbledon. With their characteristic liveliness, bold colour palettes and charming naivety of style, the works perfectly capture the festive and euphoric atmosphere of the prestigious tennis tournament. Alice’s idiosyncratic style is immediately discernible, in the larger-than-life hands and feet, the crayon-esque markings and subtle surreal touches (such as one player’s ankle-length, electric-blue tresses).
Alice’s process when it comes to making an artwork encompasses both digital and analogue techniques. As she describes it: “First I make some sketches and choose a bright colour palette. I usually make the illustrations in pieces and then I assemble them with Photoshop.” Illustration, for her, also involves immersion in and observation of the world around her. “I like to travel,” she says, “and it often happens that an idea comes to me along the way. For this reason there is a notepad in the car, so I can draw an idea before it runs away.”
We’re obsessed with Alice’s loud, shoe-stomping, powerful figures, and we can’t wait to see more of them. She tells us: “I’m getting faster and faster in my work and this allows me to take on more commissions at the same time. I think that, by working hard, I will improve more and more.”