How a “hypersensitive character” dictates the psychedelic-infused digital drawings of Luca Schenardi
After many years of switching between contemporary art and illustration, the Altford-based illustrator has settled into the creatively boundless realm of digital drawing.
21 July 2022
What unifies a trio of killer lobsters, a smiling coffin and a bear-cum-tree-demon? Nope, it’s not a fine-tuned breakdown of your worst nightmares to date – just the visual conjurings of Luca Schenardi’s ingeniously absurd creative eye. The illustrator puts these suitably weird drawings – doused in surreal happenings and eerie imagery – down to key elements of his personality; his hypersensitive character and a keen interest in psychedelics, which have both resulted in a very “well-trained” imagination. “My life is often a tightrope walk of extreme highs but also downs, which can alternate very quickly,” Luca identifies. It’s these polar worlds and distinct emotional states, always nestled at the back of his mind, which the illustrator sees as serving him as an “inexhaustible gold mine”.
Alongside this vivid imagination and emotional insight, Luca sees his “kind of photographic memory” as similarly aiding his practice. “I carry around a lot of extremely clear memories – often of bizarre, funny but also abysmal experiences,” Luca shares, “Many of my friends are often quite surprised how I can remember something in such detail that they almost forget or can only recall in fragments.” It’s this clear attention and dedication to detail that is perhaps the defining feature of Luca’s works. In Les Others the delicate, gradient texture of the trees, embellishments to the subject’s outfit and considered backdrop add layers of storytelling to a concept that on paper – a man climbing a tree – would sound somewhat simplistic.
To develop such a unique style – quite like nothing we’ve seen here at It’s Nice That – has resulted from Luca’s persistent shifting of medium. After graduating with a degree in illustration 20 years ago, Luca spent a long period switching back and forth between contemporary art and illustration, even having a stint with “trashy” sculpture. This period resulted in a lot of experimentation, and while three years ago Luca retired from freelance art, instead dedicating himself to illustration commissioned and digital drawings, elements of his past medium – specifically the abstract nature of modern art – are still palpable throughout his work. But, overall a “very conscious and happy decision”, Luca sees himself as entirely dedicated to his new medium, channelling his need for exploration into pretty unique ways of practising; like choosing to use a computer mouse as his tool of choice over the more commonly used tablet method and working exclusively with Photoshop – “my third and fourth hand, ha!”.
While working Luca pretty much “constantly” listens to music, so it seems fitting that some of his biggest commissions have come from within the industry. A personal favourite is his vinyl series for the New York-based music label Patiencelmpatience. Working with them since 2017, Luca’s now totalled up an impressive nine LP covers for them: “Besides the excellent, worldwide networking of the label – which has led to various other collaborations – it releases artists who meet my musical taste very well and expand my own musical world,” the illustrator shares. But Luca is also keen to maintain ties with smaller, lesser known names and press titles that he is passionate about, because overall, “most important to me is a pleasant and respectful collaboration with the art direction.”
Luca Schenardi: Coverillustration for DAS MAGAZIN (Copyright © Luca Schenardi, 2022)
About the Author
Olivia (she/her) joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in November 2021 and soon became staff writer. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh with a degree in English literature and history, she’s particularly interested in photography, publications and type design.