Q & A: An interview by ACCD

Tell us about what inspired your current creative project? At the moment, I am working on few creative projects. One is a limited edition tee shirt company named My Friends Love Me. The inspiration for this line of shirts is to take contemporary character designs and make them metaphoric vehicles to existentialism and the human experience. The second project I am busy with is a collaboration with a dear friend of mine who is a musician by the name of Orfeo. We have been collaborating on ideas for visuals for his music albums and music videos for some time. Our inspiration varies depending on the concept behind the music but lately we have been inspired by spiritual matter and other worldly perspectives that help us shape our perception of the universe and alternative dimensions. The visuals are often inspired by religious iconography, shamanism, metaphysics and extraterrestrial experiences. The third project I am working on is an illustration project. The inspiration for the illustrations I exhibit at galleries touch on the deep-rooted mysticism of spiritual healers known in Mexican culture as Curanderos. The practice is deeply ingrained into my family’s history. My illustrations depict various rituals and visual cues found within the Curandero experience. I am very much interested in the metaphysical and spiritual human experience and I get very excited when I get to work with people and projects on this subject matter. It not only connects me to my design and illustration skills but also takes me to a higher level in the creative process. 

What have been some of the most memorable twists and turns in your professional/creative journey after graduating ArtCenter? There have been a few twists and turns in my personal and creative journey. I feel that exhibiting my illustrations in art shows around the world has been one of those “turns” that have shaped my career today. I learned so much about putting myself “out there” where everyone can peer into your inner thoughts and ideas. Working in these spaces has also helped me better articulate my intentions in both visual and verbal manners. 

The other “turn” that was instrumental in my creative growth has been more recent. A year and a half ago, my husband and I decided to move to Spain and immerse ourselves into this visually and culturally rich country. It has influenced much of what I do today including the way I eat, look, and live on a daily basis. It has impacted me in the most profound ways.

How do you define success? This is tricky for me. I try to split success into two categories - personal growth and career growth. I feel that if you can push your creativity in your personal projects at a 100% and your career between 40%-60% then you have a successful marriage of the two.

What’s the one tool you can’t do without? A mechanical pencil. I use it in both art and design. I used it daily and on everything from sketching ideas to drawing out logos to writing small design notes to myself. It is invaluable.

Where do you go when you’re taking a break? In the past, I would take our Welsh terrier Lucas for a walk all over our neighborhood and to various parks. He passed away a few months ago and this very devastating to my husband and me. We now have Lucas’s nephew and his name is Bentley. He is a Welsh terrier pup with a lot of energy. I often walk him when I decide to take a break from work. He makes me feel connected to the natural world around me much like Lucas did.

What do you do to detox from media and screens? Since I illustrate and build installations, I find myself able to disconnect from the computer quite easily. I do it often. Some days I dedicate to designing on my iMac and other days I am working in sanguine and charcoal. I am at my best when I am working on art installations. They truly help me disconnect from the digital world and work with physical objects.

Where do you get inspiration? I get inspiration online and just walking down the street. More recently, I have been very inspired by my family’s history and connection to mysticism and magic.

If you could trade jobs for a day with anyone, who would it be? I would love to trade jobs with a person who works in the entertainment field creating set designs and props for fantasy or science fiction films. Since I was young in south Texas I have always admired special effects artists who create experiences through their environments. That would be such a dream for me to work in a studio like this.

Describe the moment in your childhood where you first identified as an artist
or designer? 
I was asked this question recently at a talk I did at the University of Minneapolis. My first recollection of feeling like I was an artist was when I was six or seven years old. We were very poor and had very little income for food - much less for art supplies. My mother would take brown paper bags from the grocery store and cut them open and give me the side of the bag that had no printing marks. I would then take a chewed up, tooth-marked pencil and draw the Virgin Mary for my mother. I have a clear memory of cutting out the drawings and handing them to my mother who would keep them around the house. It was at that moment that I felt I was an artist of some kind. I was creating art and my fan base was my mother at that time that was all I needed to feel accomplished.  

How were you exposed to great art and design as a child? Who were your favorites? I went to a public school in a small town in south Texas. My art experience was minimal and I did not have a lot of exposure to art or design. I didn’t even know that one could be a designer until a few years before I attended Art Center. I have to say the best art I was exposed to as a young man was the work in comic books and special effects magazines. The artistry in those publications really wowed me. Some of my favorite comic artists were Jim Lee, Whilce Portacio, Todd McFarlane, Travis Charest, Frank Miller, Moebius, Arthur Adams and Jack Kirby. There were so many wonderful comic book artists I adored but those were the most influential in my younger years.   

What is your current obsession? Since I have been back from Spain, I have been obsessed on making vegetarian meals that are super tasty and healthy. Also, being more frugal and smart with how I spend money. It is amazing how much you can save with online promotions. I am just finding that out!

What is your prized possession? Right now, my main prized possession is my dog Lucas’s ashes. I miss my little guy and I cannot imagine losing his ashes. I keep them safe on my fireplace mantle next to my workstation. I picture him looking over me while I work.

What possession do you most aspire to possess? None. I am not a possession-type of person. I would rather give away possessions than accumulate them myself.

What is your happy place? To imagine the city where I had the hardest time of my life and the best time of my life – Valencia, Spain. I often think of Lucas, my husband, and I walking through the streets of Valencia as the sun sets and seeing all the people sitting outside cafes socializing. Now, I can say we were on top of the world when we lived in Spain and I didn’t even realize it at the time. That is my happy place today.

How would your closest friend describe you? I don’t know I will ask him.

Robert: “Luciano is an incredibly focused and hardworking designer and artist. He is able to take a person’s vision and give it life. He is intuitive and sensitive to what his work and projects need. He is kind, genuine, and a socially responsible person who helps others build their personal lives and careers.”

How would you define your personal brand or graphic identity? I would say my personal brand is emotionally sensitive and thoughtfully executed.

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