Inspired by skateboarding, surfing and the punk rock world, italian artist Joe Tamponi brings bold, eye catchy and colorful illustrations to Portion. Check out his thoughts below and view his newest collection on Portion!
Hi Joe! Can you introduce yourself and expand on your journey of becoming a freelance illustrator? Has your artistic style always been inspired by the 80s-90s skateboarding art, together with the surf and psychedelic art from the 60s or has it evolved over time?
Hey guys, I’m Joe, 34, a Freelance Illustrator from Italy.
Well, I guess it’s been an up and down kind of journey. I started drawing back in 2011, after school I spent some time doing photography & video clips, but at some point in 2013, I decided to quit everything else to be more focused on just drawing.
I got a lot of different inputs to influence my style.
In the beginning, when I started drawing again in 2011 I was strongly influenced by the traditional tattoo world, especially the classic traditional American tattoo flashes by Sailor Jerry.
In 2013 this led to Oldprow (still visible on their Instagram), an independent streetwear brand that I was running with my closest friends. I drew all the illustrations & logos for t-shirts, sweatshirts, beanies, patches, and stickers.
We were spending all our free time promoting our stuff at punk & hardcore shows. At the time, I was inspired by some classic engraving works by Albrecht Durer, Piranesi & Gustave Dorè. That kind of imagination at the time was frequent in the blackened crust punk & post-metal records and merchandise.
A lot of details, a lot of thin lines, dark moods. Incredibly different from what I do now!
Almost useless to say that it has been one of the funniest periods of my life. Five years ago we decided to quit because of different personal reasons. I was teaching graphic design back then, and after a road trip in California with my brother I quit that too and I went freelance full time.
After that, I had the time that I needed to start studying and researching again. Starting from my favourite artists, Jim & Jimbo Phillips, Ed Roth, to all the psychedelic posters from the 60s by Wes Wilson, Stanley Mouse and co. I spent years drawing in black and white, so I was incredibly intrigued by the palettes and frying contrasts of the psychedelic posters, and I was trying to mix them with all the skateboard graphics/stickers concepts.
Wow, what a journey! Why did you choose The Inner Monologue series as your first pieces to mint on Portion? Why is it important to you that they are here as NFTs? Do you have a favorite?
The Inner Monologue is part of the Neon Weirdos NFT collection, a series to which I’m very attached. It started for fun, then became something more. The Inner Monologue is a stream of consciousness of thoughts, ideas, beliefs, fears and concerns. The NFT side plays a strong part here since they’re animated and I can’t see another way to show them better than NFTs.
I’m not sure I have a favourite, but maybe the number The Inner Monologue NW#2. The 3 NFTs are meant to be together, they’re like a tryptic.
What is your creative process like? Do you typically start with a more immediate form of drawing, such as ink and pigment on paper, before translating your ideas digitally?
Actually, I’m going full digital lately, sometimes I start with a super quick sketch on paper. Drawing on paper is completely different, when I do it is mainly to test shapes or have fun with the colors.
While going fully digital, how do you envision The Inner Monologue pieces to be used? Is there a deeper meaning that you want your audience to interact and interpret from each NFT when displayed?
As I was anticipating before, they’re meant to be together. They’re numbered, but it’s not the number to display them, it’s just the chronological number. If a person would like to display them in some big digital frames on a wall, from left to right in a single line I’d suggest #3 #1 #2, or #1, #3, #2.
My best suggestion would be to observe and get lost in the multitude of symbols and words flashing around.
They talk about us, young people living in 2022 in a world endangered by climate change & wars waking up after two miserable years of the pandemic.
Considering you’ve been in the NFT and crypto space for a while, what inspires and surprises you about this emerging world? Does sharing your work in the NFT space feel different to you than sharing it on other platforms?
I loved the NFT world from first sight. Everything is moving, everyone is creating. I found out about a lot of new different artists, different techniques, and different concepts. Everyone’s saying that it’s a revolution, and yeah, I think it is. Posting a pic on CryptoTwitter is different than posting on Instagram. People ask you, they wanna talk, interact with you, and share their stuff. It’s refreshing.
We're glad you're learning so much from this NFT world! Are there any artists that inspire you in the NFT space? If so, who and what makes them so influential?
I like XCOPY’s work, feels authentic and strong. He’s been helpful last year, he gave me some advice. That’s another thing I love about the NFT space, people are often helpful with a lot of advice. Besides that, my favourite piece of art is from the lowbrow group so, Brian Romero, Wooden Cyclops, Sam Pierson, LurkandDestroy, ZazzCorp and all the other folks. The list is HUGE.
Yes, couldn't agree more. This community is extremely welcoming! In terms of your career, what has been the greatest lessons learned thus far?
Always be patient and don’t rush into things. Hurrying is your worst enemy.
Never lose hope I think that's also very important. Being an artist is incredibly hard, psychologically speaking, but if you do your thing, never stop studying/researching and show your stuff around at least you can have a couple shots.
It’s a big world and there’s plenty of people more talented than me out there, I keep that in mind.
Wise words, Joe! Lastly, in correlation to our NFT.NYC immersive event, do you believe immersive art has a cultural shift on the way we perceive art? What does it mean for the future of art?
Immersive art could play a key role in the NFT world in my opinion, since it brings the artwork closer to you, and interacts with you. I think that could be compared to, for example, going to a show or listening to the same record from your laptop.
If you saw the band playing live, you’re gonna listen to their stuff in a completely different manner.