Your style has suggestions of both Asian, European, and American influences. How would you describe your style, and what were your biggest influences?
MATTEO DE LONGIS: I could describe my own style as a hybrid and global one, because as you said it’s influenced by a lot of artists and styles from all around the world, especially from Japan. In fact, my style started from my love for anime and manga.
Sometimes, in Italy, I’ve even felt almost an alien because of my love for this different culture that many years ago was far away from the western one.
I can describe myself as “backwards” contaminated; after re-discovering more western styles, I became a hybrid with no more boundaries.
My style is in perennial evolution. At first my Japanese referring artists were: Yoshiyuki Sadamoto, Masaune Shirow, and afterwards Katsuya Terada, and Range Murata; artists who are not tied by commercial limits of serial production. Among the Western artists I find enormously inspiring: Ashley Wood, Jamie Hewlett and James Jean. Every day I discover amazing artists on the web, for which it’s not important to know their nationality.
You combine such a unique variety of elements and themes in these works – rock and roll, military vehicles and weapons, birds and nature, etc. What is the connection between these elements that you wish to suggest?
MDL: I needed to blow up my imagination, my visual world, that’s why I created VOX! I usually say that this art book is my artistic statement, a starting point, not a point of arrival. So I mixed up different elements, but they really are some of the things that I like! I feel connections between sounds and colors ( this is the meaning of this book), beauty and music, aircraft and birds, guitars and weapons… If the result is often a bit weird or “fuzzy”, this is just rock!
VOX represents such a promising debut, establishing your work as unlike any other “rock art” seen so far. What are you working on now, and what do you hope to accomplish in the near future?
MDL: I will continue to be a visual artist, and a cover artist for various projects. I would also like to work more on the design and merchandise derived from my artworks. Every project I do always contains the “seeds” for the next one, so I want to expand some of the themes of my universe. I think the time has come to tell stories now, and so I’m looking for my way of doing comics.
Your work is so very clean and beautifully rendered, with near mathematical draftsmanship surrounded by an organic, almost gestural dynamic. What is your typical process for creating a piece? Do you work traditionally or digitally or both?
MDL: I draw completely digital, I spend a lot of time working with Photoshop and painter on a display/tablet because I think that, with these tools, you can have a warm expression and a very personal touch.
Sometimes to make a piece, everything happens as a result of a lightning inspiration, other times an artwork is the result of a long and alchemic composition, doubts, breaks, afterthoughts and reprises. It’s clear that in my illustrations also the elements of graphic design are important and are often part of the concept.
Many of your pieces suggest a larger backstory, either behind the interesting character designs or the composition of the characters within an interesting environment. Do you have stories behind each piece and each character that you wish to tell or explore in expanded format later?
MDL: Yes indeed! I think I’ve already answered this in the previous questions, about wanting to expand my universe even telling stories through comics. VOX is a kind of “teaser” of what is my visual universe, but the next project will be a new “big-bang”, I consider that drawing for illustrations and drawings for comics should be a little different, the comics should be more dynamic. But I also love the fact that comics are supported by many artworks, datasheets, designs which help to explore and appreciate the background.