Artist Interview: Silver Veglia

Artsology was introduced to the art of Silver Veglia as a result of our investigation into the work of Guiseppe Arcimboldo. We had created a feature called Our Own Arcimboldo Food Face, and we asked our viewers to send us their own Arcimboldo food faces. A very witty and fun image was sent to us by Mr. Veglia, and an artistic dialogue had begun. Later, through Facebook, we discovered more of Mr. Veglia's work, became quite enchanted with his most-recent body of work, and decided to request an interview. Mr. Veglia, age 73 (when this interview took place in 2011), lives in Turin, Italy, and we thought it would be interesting to learn more about his art and life.

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Pablo Picasso once said, "Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up." It would seem that Mr. Veglia has solved this problem, as we learn from the various details below:

Artsology: How long have you been making art? Did you study art in school?

Silver Veglia: I've been making art for only 10 years, starting when I retired from work in an advertising studio. I did not study art in school, but I loved to draw when I was a child. In some ways, my work at the advertising studio was my "art school."

Sailboat drawing by Italian artist Silver Veglia

Artsology: Do you consider yourself primarily a photographer? You also do some painting on canvas ... do you have a preferred medium?

Silver Veglia: As an artist, I love to create in several media like oil portraits, photography, and drawings on photos (as seen here) which I shoot specifically to draw on.

Artsology: Tell us about how you found your way to the advertising studio as your career.

Silver Veglia: After working at several different jobs, I went to a little advertising and packaging studio in my hometown of Turin with a folder full of my drawings. After reviewing my work, the boss said, "okay, boy, welcome to my studio," and I began the work which was the job for the rest of my life.

surfer drawing by Italian artist Silver Veglia

drawing of golfers by Italian artist Silver Veglia

Artsology: In the United States, an artist wanting to make a career out of exhibiting and selling art will often try to move to a major city where they can become part of the local art scene, such as New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles. Do artists in Italy gravitate to the major cities as well? Where are the most-developed art markets in Italy?

Silver Veglia: In Italy, I think the most important cities where the Italian artists gravitate to are Milan and Rome. However, the most capable of them are looking outward, first of all to the United States, and today also to China and Japan.

Artsology: Italy has a very rich artistic history, dating back many more centuries than the artistic history of the United States. Does having access and being surrounded by so many cultural treasures affect your art-making process?

Silver Veglia: In Italy, as in Europe, you can find a lot of stimulating art, and I do enjoy seeing it, but it does not directly influence my art.

painting of a cafe scene by Italian artist Silver Veglia

drawing of whitewater rafters inside a water bottle by Italian artist Silver Veglia

Artsology: Who are some of your favorite artists?

Silver Veglia: The most modern and interesting artist that I love, an artist that combines elements of Picasso with elements of the "Belle Epoque" painters,* is the American Edward Hopper.

(* Editor's note: "Belle Epoque" painters include some of the following: Josef Hoffmann, Gustav Klimt, Oskar Kokoschka, and Egon Schiele, among others)

Artsology: When you make your paintings (as seen above left - the cafe scene), are you working from a photograph, or using photographic images as source material for the paintings?

Silver Veglia: Yes, I use my own photographs for the material in the paintings, or when I do portraits, normally there is someone who asks to pose for their portrait.

Artsology: Going back to the series of photographs, where did the inspiration came from for this body of work? Also, please tell us your process - do you take the photographs and then draw on top of them digitally? Or do you print the photographs and then draw on the actual print?

Silver Veglia: Well, let me try to explain the process. Sometimes I see something small which reminds me of something else which is much bigger. For example, a little stone that reminds me of part of the Sahara desert. So I take a picture and then with a digital pen, I draw a scene on top of it. When I was a child, I used to draw scenes on a stone with a piece of chalk, and I would draw a scene which the appearance of that stone suggested to me, so perhaps these photographs are a continuation of that process.

beach scene drawing by Italian artist Silver Veglia

drawing of the moonwalk by Italian artist Silver Veglia

Artsology: What is your next artistic pursuit going to be? Continue with this photographic series, or do you have something else in the works?

Silver Veglia: I just started doing these pictures in January, 2011, and after I made the first one it was like a fever to me. I recently completed my first book of recipes, with my own recipes accompanied by my "funny drawings," which gives me great satisfaction to get my work out to the public. At the moment, I'm working on a portrait of a girl whose parents asked me to do it for her birthday. But in general, as soon I see something that gives me a new idea, I'll go with it.

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