Lulu Guinness

  • You’ve probably seen Jonathan Calugi’s work, you just don’t know it. Maybe you’ve opened your Airbnb app rececenty, thought about buying a new iPad Pro, or stepped into a Nike Town store in the last couple of years – if yes, you’ve already set eyes on Calugi’s mesmerising line work.
    Calugi is an Italian artist hailing from Pistoia, a city in Tuscany, just North of Florence. His work focuses around the idea of continuous lines, often enhanced with flashes of primary colours. Inspired by artists such as Picasso and Miro, his captivating artwork has strong ties to the Modernist art movement.
    Calugi speaks of being a hyperactive child, with a lot of energy. To keep himself entertained, he’d leave the house with a huge backpack filled with pens of different colours, paper and a huge bottle of water. He had a fascination with water and hydration – even writing poems about the subject. This may explain why in his later life, he has such fludity in his artwork and naturally draws in a free-flowing style.
    We talked with Calugi about his art, inspirations, career and the collaboration.

  • LGHQ: Where did you get your start in art?

    JC: My parents owned the local stationery shop and I spent afternoons there drawing. When I grew up I wanted to study art but I couldn’t be bothered to go to Florence, and the school in Pistoia wasn't very good, so I ended up studying IT (!!!). But I always kept on drawing and that led to a collaboration with a creative collective, A Smile for Timbuktu. My partner Claudia suggested that I should put all the artwork I created for the collective online and that’s how I was picked up by the ADC to participate at the Young Guns, which I won. The same happened with my Print Magazine Award.

    LGHQ: What are your top inspirations for all your work?

    JC: In general all Art and Design are a great source of inspiration for me ….also the graphic works of Marino Marini (from Pistoia, my hometown) and Henry Moore, Pablo Picasso, Mirò, Leger, Klee… I guess most of the artist of the 1900s. Then Geoff McFetridge, Stanley Whitney, Martin Creed, just to mention few.

    The collaboration between Lulu & Calugi makes perfect sense. Lulu has an obsession with line drawings, and is renowned for her work inspired by Modernist art, and upon first seeing Calugi’s work in the Evening Standard Magazine, she fell in love. The collection features three different pieces of artwork: ‘Moon Lady’, ‘Kissing Lips’, and ‘Binocs Girl’. Developed over time with back-and-fourth between London & Pistoia, the pieces perfectly blend the Lulu and Calugi aesthetics.

    LGHQ: What is it that drew you to the Lulu Guinness collaboration?

    JC: Lulu herself. She has a contagious energy that is also reflected in her brand. Not to mention that it’s obvious to see that aesthetically we have a lot in common.

    LGHQ: How did the collaboration artwork come about – was it an instantaneous process or something developed slowly from the starting brief?

    JC: The whole project came about quite organically, we bounced ideas back and forth and built upon each other’s vision.

    LGHQ: Talk us through the three different pieces of artwork from the collaboration. Do you have a favourite, and if so, why?

    JC: I love the pattern dress, it has really made an impression on me. You see, I consider all my designs as masculine and seeing how the pattern transformed itself on a feminine dress was truly surprising.

    Calugi is a romantic at heart; citing his main inspirations as love, family and his cats. Never having a moment of doubt within his career as an artist, he doesn’t see it as a ‘job’ or something he does just to make money and pay the bills. It is his form of expression and he is conscious of how lucky he is to have people appreciate his art. He lives and works in Pistoia, his home town, where he says it’s a simple way of life where, most importantly, he is close to everything that is dear to him: his partner and son, family and friends.

  • He would never live elsewhere. Not moving to chase success is probably one of the reasons Calugi is such a likeable person. He is not a showy artist, as far from the Warholian typecast as possible, and lets his art speak for itself.

    LGHQ: How do you begin a piece of work and what is your overall technique and timescale for finishing?

    JC: I always try to sketch my idea in the quickest, most instinctual way possible, I don’t want to overdo things. Then if I see I’m on the right path I refine this initial rough idea, balancing out the composition and quite frequently enhancing the imprecisions of the first sketch.

    LGHQ: Do you have days where you have creative block? What do you do in these situations?

    JC : I don’t usually have creative blocks but if I’m not happy with what I’m doing I shut down the computer and I go and play basketball.

    LGHQ: Where do you work – a studio in your home or do you have to work away from home?

    JC: Fortunately I don’t work at home, and I love this because I can make all the mess I want in my studio.

    LGHQ: You’ve talked, in previous interviews, about the internet being a massive part of your work – it was where you were discovered and how you connect with people. Where do you see art and design going with the internet as an influence or a hindrance?

    JC: The Internet has been instrumental in my success and it’s a great tool to connect people but there’s also a dark side to it: it tends to level creativity into trends, promoting quick results rather than actual research.

    LGHQ: If you weren’t an artist what would you be doing?

    JC: I’d be a male model. Or a baker man.

    LGHQ: What’s in the future for Jonathan Calugi?

    JC: A career in rap. I did record a song, “Donna”, maybe you can still find it on the internet! :)

    Editor’s Note: We couldn’t find “Donna”, please let us know if you do.