After being mesmerized by the wonderful images lately in media from the new GUCCI Gift campaign I was ooh soo excited to find out more about the artist and the creative process and story behind the GUCCI Gift Book 2017. I began my search at www.gucci.com. With great joy I discovered an interwiew about the "Illustrating the 2017 GUCCI Gift Book", as you can read quoted below:
"Ignasi Monreal began his creative collaboration for Gucci with a quirky fortune teller and weather forecaster that appeared in the first #GucciGram digital art project. Fast forward two years, and the young Spanish artist’s digital pen is behind 80 illustrations that feature in the 2017 Gucci Gift catalogue. Ignasi weaves Gucci accessories and ready-to-wear into artworks that tell spellbinding stories, layered with diverse influences, mixing classical mythology of Greece and Rome, Medieval alchemy, Renaissance paintings, with a dash of Spanish passion and abundance. Below the artist offers us a glimpse into his creative process.
Tell us about the idea for the book?
It’s Icarus. He fascinates me because of his story, which could be read a bit like a mantra I guess. If you fly too close to the sun, you're going to get burned. If you fly too low, you're going to drown in the sea. It feels quite bluntly obvious, but I find it quite timeless, and reassuring. You have to find the middle point to land on the other side. Its not a cosmic science, just a tricky human condition. The Icarus himself is a very romantic character and of course symbolic of everything young and pretty. Very East London! I didn’t really plan in advance how the illustrations will play out in the book, but I guess they all now make sense in a narrative. Something like: The cover star Icarus approaches the sun, falls down and lands in the Gucci fashion heaven.
How did you come up with settings and ideas for the product?
I usually come up with a story first, and then try to see if the specific product makes sense within this particular context, whether it feels believable. Sometimes it is not a very grand story, just a moment in time and place that has somehow stuck with me that I try to recreate in a new way. I guess its the juxtaposition of something very down to earth with a bit of myth and/or dash of Spanish abundance that makes the image fun, intriguing or interesting. I like my artworks to be aesthetically pretty of course, but I do wish that whoever is looking, gets the inside points as well.
How do you work?
I paint pictures on my computer, on Photoshop and using a tablet. Its all digital. I create my own brushes, because it feels more painterly to me then, less plastic. Maybe it also makes this digital gig slightly more personal? I’ve been painting for quite a long time now. I started digital because it felt cool, new and a bit nonchalant, the "fuss free" tool. I did some comic illustrations, but started to experiment quickly and mainly painted whatever was on my mind, which at that time were (including but not limited to): pop culture icons in embarassing situations, borderline inappropriate interpretations of classic paitinings, and other teenage fever dreams. I guess this somehow led me to fashion?
Can you tell us about these illustrations at the back of the book—your hand drawing?
It’s me drawing this book, and smoke is coming off because I've been painting so much. Ignasi means “fire”, the pencil is burnt, don’t feel very burnt out thou. Still in Gucci fashion heaven!"
Usually when I try to make my own interpretation of fashion in images, or paintings, I tend to be a bit of a nerd in the way I make my analysis from my academical perspecive, ethnology and of coursd art and fashion science. It baffles my daily how much my studies at Stockholm University and my vurm for fashion portraits indeed really has changed my own approach when looking at fashion images or paintings. When I analyze these GUCCI images it takes infinitely longer for me now than it would have take before my academic studies. I often, or mostly, use a method founded by Roland Barthes as a way to systematically analyze images. Barthes' theory lays upon his notions about two orders of designation. He calls these orders: denotation and connotation. In the second scheme, connotation, also includes myths and symbols. A myth in Barthes' sense is a story which within a culture explains or perceive any aspect of reality or nature. Barthes argues that a myth is culture's way of thinking about something; a way of explain something. The myth is denoted the importance of the second order, and the myths is the human need to put labels on things to understand them. The third way for the designation of the second degree Barthes calls for symbols. A sign becomes a symbol in the Convention and use obtained a significance that makes it stand for something else.
Theorist Hall explained that Barthes denotation is the simple, basic, descriptive level, where consensus is wide and most people would agree on the meaning. On the second level - connotation - are these signals / signs that we have been able to "decode" in a simple way by using our conventional conceptual classifications to read their meaning, giving a broader perspective through other types of codes - "fashion language" - which connects them to broader themes and meanings. These bind them with what we can call the wider semantic field in our culture: ideas about the "elegance", "formality", "simplicity" and "romance". The second order then, as in a wider meaning is no longer a descriptive level of obvious interpretation. Here we begin to interpret the completed signs in terms of social ideology - the general beliefs, conceptual frameworks and values in society.
Just to describe one detail thru this system I give you one clear example in the GUCCI image with the cat as a human being: In that picture I thru "denotation" clearly see a boat burning in the picture. Everybody could agree upon that it actually is a boat and it is on fire. This is a fact! Thereafter as I come to the second level "connotation" I decode the meaning in a broader perspecive for example that the boat is in a dramatic situation and burning. Also that the artwork with painting the boat on fire is done is most natural. The second order also provides me with tools to, in a wider meaning, do interpretations by myself based upon myself as a cultural being. In this order I now come to: myths and symbols. Myths are the way I try to lable things to understand them. Why is the boat burning? What is its function in the painting or why did the artist even include the boat in the painting? Here my own interpretation is that the boat is burning in order to show, with this little detail, the entire image as having a connection to history. In modern time we do not use the tradition anymore of burning boats! I do not see any living person on the boat or in the water, so then who put on the fire? This make this new image have a natural connection to old historical paintings, painted many hundred years ago. Maybe a burning arrow was sent from ashore somewhere outside the picture, to set the boat on fire? In the case of the burning boat I feel I must go ahead to the third way for the designation of the second degree, "symbols". "Symbols" are not always a way to see the picture, they are optional in Barthes method, but in this case "symbols" are clearly there. The boat as a sign becomes a symbol for me as the boat, as an object of significanse in the image, stands for something else or more than the obvious. For myself this boat is a symbol of fashion and how much fashion- and arthistory is relevant for a creative director in the innovation of fashion. If the boat was left out of the image, the image would only make references to being painted in modern time or today. But the burning boat, that part of history with references to a dead body being laid in a boat set on fire from a distance as for a funeral thru ancient history from different kind of traditions, makes the burning boat symbolic. The burning boat in this image has a function of a symbol for me, a symbol that fashion is eternal and timeless and history and future are depending on each other to make our modern time understandable.
This is my way of enjoying these extraordinaly and magic images. What is your way? xoxo
All pictures from www.instyle.com with courtesy from GUCCI. Please click on image of your choice for a closer look.