Michela Picchi’s graphic world is made of turquoise, pink, yellow, purple, ivory and black, highly symbolic characters and themes inspired by her life experience in Rome – where she was born and raised – London, Hong Kong and Berlin, where she is now based. We talked to her in order to better understand what lies behind her striking iconic palette and drawing.
You are Italian, from Rome and you recently moved to Berlin. Could you tell us more about this transition in terms of lifestyle and how it has affected your work?
I guess there has not been a real change because in the last year and a half I‘ve been lucky enough to work and live in London, Hong Kong, and Berlin and I’ve experienced a lot. For sure Hong Kong and Berlin are the cities where I’ve been more motivated and encouraged to produce. Returning to Berlin has been almost a natural choice, an act of love.
You graduated in Political and Economical Studies and later on realized that you wanted to be an illustrator and graphic designer instead. How did this change come about? Tell us something more about your background.
Since I was young I’ve been always interested in a number of things, each very different from one another. As a matter of fact, my initial path never excluded the following ones because while I was analysing markets and studying different things I was also filling my eyes with different visual stimuli, art blogs, and exhibitions and I was already producing my art.
After achieving my first BA in Political and Economic Studies, I just tried to focus all my energy in something that I could really identify as mine and I undertook a new path in my life. I do not consider choices limiting, in the end they are all functional to one another. Now I am a graphic and visual designer and whatever I want to be.
Where does the inspiration for your drawings come from?
Usually I spend some days without even sitting down at the computer. This happens when I free my mind from any burdens. Most often, it is at times like these when an idea pops up in front of my eyes and I want to realize it immediately, so I end up spending days sitting down at the computer till I do.
Your color palette and style is extremely recognizable. Tell us something more about how you choose colors and subjects.
Since the very beginning, I’ve picked a palette of colours that satisfied my eyes completely and I continue to use it to this day. I cannot imagine my artwork without that special combination of turquoise, pink, yellow, purple, ivory and black. For me it is really a fundamental part of my artwork’s essence. Basically , I’m very attached to and fascinated by symbols and the symbolic meaning that an illustration can have. I think that is exactly the moment when a work of art gains power.
How does your creative process work?
When I started it was just a personal production, so it was very much like an illustrated stream of consciousness. Right now, it’s more about working on some commissioned work or project, so I sketch like hell figuring out the best balance and composition for the work. Creative directors often guide me throughout the production process, and it is always very exciting and challenging.
What is the role of music in your creative process?
Music plays a fundamental role in my creative process, as well in my life in general. When I start working on some new artwork or project I usually pick one album or a few songs to listen to till it’s finished, like a loop. Mostly it really helps me stay focused and work intensively.
You’ve worked for many famous clients such as Nike and Fendi. What is it like to work for a brand?
It is always challenging and motivating to work on major projects and in my opinion it allows you to experience a lot. I had the pleasure of collaborating with a great Rome-based creative studio, The Moodit , for the last 2013 FENDI CRAYONS Japan exclusive video, and with two works of art for a Nike foundation exhibition in June 2014. In both cases it’s been a great experience and it is of course gratifying to be chosen by such big brands even without an agency to represent me.
You have a very peculiar and smart personal style. What’s your relationship with fashion? What are your favorite brands?
My grandmother worked as a head seamstress in Rome during the 60s for top fashion houses. She always had a great passion for fashion, and collected great pieces of clothes without ever throwing them away for her entire life. Right now she is my main personal atelier since she dedicated an entire floor of her house to her clothes: it’s clearly a dreamland. If I have to pick a brand I am in love with, I will 100% go for the colourful word of Kenzo, with all its patterns and outstanding graphics: I will probably always be in love with the Kenzo “flying tigers” collection.
What are you working on right now and what are your upcoming projects?
Right now I’m working as a creative director for the identity of one of the most popular restaurants in Berlin. I’m really thrilled about it and can’t wait to see the final result!