Sometimes we all need some sort of catalyst (good or bad) to thrust us into the waiting arms of our destiny. For artist Fabio.Napoleoni, a loved one’s ailment was what did it. He now lives everyday knowing that the heart, physically and allegorically, holds the key to substantial breakthroughs in life and career. Fabio delves into his whimsical world littered with powerful but subtle metaphors and full of breathtaking texture all packaged with a playful seriousness that jump off the canvas and into your mind and heart.
See our Q & A with Fabio below:
“Love, Hope and some sorrow, the primary colors to my paintings …”
We have seen brief bios on you on various websites however; could you summarize where you were born, your heritage, and when you were first introduced to art?
I was born in Puerto Rico to a Italian/Puerto Rican Father & an Italian/Spanish mother. Heritage? Both of my grandfathers were Italian and both grandmothers have Spanish ancestry. I’m proud to have both. My first introduction to art was given to me by my mother who gave me all the art supplies imaginable so she could keep me busy and in one spot since I had severe asthma as a child.
When did you know that you were a legitimate artist?
I would have to say the day that I had no other job, a boss and a steady pay check. 01/04/08 was the day I took the leap and I haven’t looked back since.
What is your preferred medium for the creation of art and why?
I would have to say a pencil, pen & paper. That’s my foundation and from there everything else comes to life. It’s very rare that I just draw onto a canvas without having the concept done first on paper.
What does art at its core mean to you?
A great avenue to express yourself & the cheapest form of therapy
How do you describe your form of art?
Character based art that focuses on capturing an emotion and evoking thought.
There is definitely a lot of information on the internet about the symbolism and meaning behind your use of the ‘human heart’ in your paintings – could you briefly touch on this as well as the cathartic effect it has on you and people who have acquired your art?
The heart is a reminder of my daughter and if not for her and her amazing will none of this would be possible. There’s a heart is in every piece of art I create and its meaning differs from one piece to another. I think the reason it connects well with my fans is because we see the same thing in it… Love, Hope and some sorrow, the primary colors to my paintings.
The rag doll character, Marcenivo, who appears in many of your paintings, must have a great back story, could you briefly touch on his back story? Marcenivo always has a heart close by him in many paintings – does he have a heart inside him or he wants to finally get one put in?
Like many of my other characters Marcenivo was created during the time spent with my daughter while she was in the hospital recovering from surgeries. I wanted to create a character that I could easily relate to. I was looking to create a worn down tattered doll to basically represent how I was feeling. It was only fitting that his side kick be his heart. The heart in many paintings is trying to set an emotion so depending on its location, size and position that will tell the story behind the piece. There is a grand story to Marcenivo but I’m waiting to put that into a book before I share it with everyone.
Your paintings seem to be set in a backdrop world with a definite feel and atmosphere – is there a name for this world and how similar or different is this world from the one we all live in?
The world you see is all from the perspective of Marcenivo and how he has imagined it. My own atmosphere and environment has played a role in the backdrop. Living in Maine for a great portion of my life and surrounded by nature has been a great inspiration for my work. There is nothing better than the color palate provided by Mother Nature.
Your art, visually and atmospherically, has an innate feel that makes it prime material for greeting cards, an animated series or even a movie, have you entertained any such proposals and do you see this in your future?
I have entertained a few proposals and currently working with a company that is developing some merchandise items. The film is a goal I have had for a long time and I’m sure it’s in my future.
What is your view on commercial art versus underground art? Do you think that being successful in your form of art adds or detracts from the underlying message you are trying to convey?
My personal opinion is that with commercial art you tend to give up a lot of artistic liberty and the focus tends to be more on sales and appeal. I love the freedom of underground art; you create what you love with freedom and no boundaries. Who doesn’t love that?… I have struggled internally with the success I have gained over the last 3 years. As an artist who feels passionate about his work it is my duty to maintain the integrity of my work and not forget were the inspiration came from. At the end of the day its my name attached to the image and at no point in my career do I want to be considered a sell out or a bullshit artist.
What is the biggest compliment and the worst critique that you have ever received about your art?
The biggest compliment to me is when a fan openly shares the reason why they purchased a specific piece. I have had fans share very joyful stories and for some the stories are filled with sadness, many of those stories just amaze me. In some cases fans have freely opened up and start crying forgetting or not caring that there is a line of people behind them also listening to their story. The worst critique I can remember is when I received an email telling me that my art was horrible, dark and depressing and that I should focus more on the positive things in life. Can’t please them all.
Which one of your art pieces is your favorite or closest to your favorite?
I have 2 that come to mind “Possession of hope” and “Dear Babycakes” both hold such special sentiment that I could not part with them.
In the pictures we have seen of you, you seem to be in very good shape – what is your workout regimen and what two essential health tips would you impart to readers?
I try to squeeze in no less than 30 min. daily and in that 30 min. go full steam. What helps me keep the weight off is no white bread, pasta and no food after 8pm. Overall, good healthy eating habits and anything in moderation is key.
You seem to also be big into tattoos, what is your favorite tattoo and what do tattoos generally mean to you?
That’s a tough one since they all have special meanings. Tattoos are a great way of expression for me – it’s like creating a timeline on your skin.
What is your view on men’s fashion and what is your style uniform?
I love it all from the most simple styles to the top of the line looks, its all fabulous. I need to feel comfortable in whatever I decide to wear. A soft T-shirt, comfortable jeans and Chuck Taylors is by far my favorite.
Although you seem to be a very positive person, when things get dark, what is a routine you use to get back on track?
A conversation with my wife… she is the music that soothes the beast. Then my mother she always has a way to make me see the light at the end of the tunnel. Working out helps take the edge off.
What musical artist or what musical band is your favorite? Do you listen to music as you create art? If yes, what do you tend to listen to?
I enjoy all genres of music and my list of favorites is extensive… I listen to music every single day, especially when I’m creating. Depending on the mood I’m in or the piece that I’m working on, that decides the music choice for the day.
When you are down and things seem a little hopeless, what song or book or image or piece of art, etc. brings you back up?
For some reason for as far back as I can remember “My way” & “That’s life” by Frank Sinatra just seem to give me that kick in the ass to get me back into the groove.
It is clear that art currently pays your bills, what advice would you give to upcoming artists aspiring to create art for a living?
1. Stay true to your art and maintain dignity 2. Surround yourself with people you love and who love you back equally 3. Work with people who are honest and have your best interest in mind. 4. Accept criticism and welcome advice 5. Get a good lawyer.
Where can people view and acquire pieces of your work?
The best place to see a good collection of my work is the fan page on Facebook and my website. On both sites, we provide a list of galleries along with their contact information. We are also available to answer questions and help in any way that we can to make ensure that your experience with is always a pleasurable one. Getting to know my fans is the best part of my job and I want to make sure they always know that.
“What we do in life echoes an eternity”
See more of Fabio’s art in slideshow above.