25 September 2020

Meet the Arists – Lucia Gaggiotti

Posted in: Artists, Children's books, Design, Food, Illustration, Meet the artist, Packaging, Pattern design

Lucia Gagiotti’s beautiful illustrations use vintage references and iconography to make incredible contemporary graphic art, calling out to classic children’s books, folk art and mid-century design. Her cartoonish figures are rendered with a practiced naïveté and immaculately presented with worn in textures; her images feel like they have a life well-lived.

Splitting her time between London and her hometown of Ancona, Lucia’s work has a magpie quality informed by her love of nature and her immediate surroundings as well as vintage graphics plucked from village markets. Her background in graphic design allows her to  combine these myriad elements with vivid brushstrokes, balanced typography and vibrant colour palettes that immediately draw you further into her illustrations. Her experience and quality craftsmanship has helped her secure clients like Rummo Pasta, Rude Health and Carluccio’s.

We spoke to Lucia about dancing, well-loved books and her cat, Rumi…

Where do you live?

I’m based between London and Italy, but to be honest I spend most of my time in Italy because the majority of the clients are food companies. In Italy I get a lot of inspiration for these kinds of projects.

Where is your studio located?

My favorite studio is facing the sea, which is another great source of inspiration for me.

Can you describe your creative process?

Whenever possible, I enjoy taking a day off or two before starting a creative job. I love walking or taking care of my body. When I have time for myself, it often happens that images come to mind. 

I directly envision the finished product; I see the colours and the whole composition for the illustration as I would like to see it, if I found it on a shelf myself.

Ideally, I want to be ready for when the vision arrives, then I can start drawing. Obviously, if I need to draw an elephant, I’ll help myself with images from the web to understand the proportions and the physiognomy, but then the rest comes without overthinking. As I let the creative process take place, it slowly shapes up and develops through my hands as I go along.

What does a typical working day look like?

The very first thing for me is to start my creative day with a cuddle: a nice and long breakfast at the coffee shop with a double cappuccino and croissants while reading my favourite book of the moment. I dance a little to stretch my legs (and I do this also during the day when I need to recharge) and then I will sit at my desk and decide on some inspirational music according to how I feel; then, I’m off on a journey!

Do you listen to music or the radio whilst you work? If so, what’s on your playlist?

Music is my best colleague. I subscribed to Spotify and I created a few playlists according to different moods of the day. Generally, I prefer folk music from all over the world, from Indian sitar and flutes, to African or Brazilian percussion, to the acapella songs of women of ancient Lapp people. It is a bit like traveling and dreaming in my own room and this greatly stimulates my creativity.

How long have you been with the Artworks for?

Six years I guess, but it feels like we’ve been together all our life

What drew you to Artworks?

It was Stephanie and Lucy who first contacted me, I think almost 9 years ago now. At the time I was an unexperienced freelancer and I did not know the benefits of having an agency behind me so, I did not accept the collaboration immediately. About a couple years later, I went back to them with regret because I realised that I could not do without one. Every day I am grateful to be part of this team, every person of the Artworks team is present, sweet, ready and shrewd, everything you want from a guardian angel!

What books or programs did you love as a child?

My favorite series of books is “Childcraft”. I have read them so many times from beginning to end that they almost look like war relics; some of them don’t have the front cover, some of them show bites, scribbles and even tomato or chocolate stains. 

Have they influenced your work in any way?

Yes, a lot. So much so, that for the TWO by TWO cookie line and for the Educational Insights board games, my bible, my book to go to was definitely N.7 “Exploring the World Around Us”

If you weren’t an artist, what would you be instead?

In addition to drawing, a form of communication that I love exploring is the body. Without a doubt, I would have loved to been a dancer!

What was the most important lesson you learned at Art School, if you went!

I remember a line that my design professor used to say and repeat to me and that has stuck with me until today: “keep it simple!”

What inspires you the most to create?

I love observing nature: its colours and its shapes are for me the greatest source of inspiration; they are the oldest academy there is, the school of balance and harmony!

I collect pieces of wood, stones, shells and for a good part of the year I find relaxation and shelter in my little house, facing the sea in complete peace. Another fetish of mine are folk and retro graphics that I find in the provincial markets as well as in remote villages of India. I like old tin boxes, oriental fabrics and tapestries, but also the patterns of vintage clothes, old postcards; in short, everything that has a story to tell and that has collected energy over time!

Name three artists that you admire:

1- Jean Jullien,

2- Mary Blair

3- Jean Michel Basquiat

What kind of commissions do you enjoy the most?

Maybe, because I don’t have children: creating characters and letting them live a life of their own is the height of my satisfaction.

What would your dream commission be?

I would love to create a character and see it come to life in a real cartoon!

Do you have any pets? If so, what and what are they called?

Two years ago, I found a striped kitten in the countryside and I named it Rumi.

He and I have a very special relationship; he thinks that I sleep with the windows open and he is usually around in the morning. When I wake up, I don’t even have time to open my eyes before he comes in through the window and jumps on my bed to say good morning! We probably communicate through telepathy!

What 5 things could you not live without?

  • Cappuccino in the morning.
  • The sea.
  • The sun.
  • My friends Anja, Roberta and Patrizia.
  • Dancing “the five rhythms” by Gabrielle Roth.

What is your very favorite meal?

Homemade pasta, especially Ravioli with any fillings!

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Whenever I can, I love going into nature.

What is your current dream travel destination?

My dream is to go to Japan!

To see more of Lucia’s work, click here.