Words from Simone Legno

Since you now live in LA what do you miss most about Italy?

Obviously family and friends especially when you feel years are passing fast somehow and we are all getting older. After that I miss the crowd, to walk around and see many people all packed in a block. I miss the food, the wine bars, the soccer talks in the neighborhood, the humor of people, ancient monuments all around… so much. It’s not easy to leave home even if I found a wonderful place where to be here in LA.

What is your favorite city you have visited?

I was lucky to visit a lot, to see wonderful places even if some was just for few hours. It’s hard to choose but I got to say Tokyo. It’s a continuously mutating organized chaos, it’s the capital of the country I love like home, it’s inspiring, it’s a visual rain of inputs, it’s just fantastic especially for an artist or a designer. You have to experience it (especially with some local person taking you around) to really understand what I mean.

How do you start a typical day?

Espresso coffee and reading emails that come overnight from Europe and Asia mostly. I always sleep with laptop next to me (doesn’t make my wife happy). Than a bit of reading Italian online news when I feel that everything in my mailbox is sort of under control. Sometimes if no urgent meetings in the office and I wake up early (like 6 am) I go for a run, punch the heavy bag and some other anti-stress stuff.

Where do you find inspiration, and how do you start a painting?

Generally I try to look at everyday life to get inspiration. I watch the world around me always looking for some idea, it’s not just in books, magazines, the net but in every simple thing, every person walking could give a great idea.

The main sources for me are memories, dreams, daily life, good feelings, trips and somehow in all of those Japan is related. I look, search, stylize, study, filter and transform continuously in my mind the elements around. In the first period of my life the Japanese influence was predominant; I thought that moving to LA changed radically my work. Before that the huge part of my work was about reinterpretation, remixing Japanese world in my own way, the mix of traditional Japan and cute pop characters and icons, in the mind of a guy that grew up in the middle of punk rock bands and squatted clubs full of tattoos and colored hair. Being here in LA I started to incorporate many icons or inputs coming from the street culture, the glamorous LA life style, the bling bling and the classic Americana icons. The fact of being far from my own country made me rediscover many things that comes from my cultural background and iconography. Regarding the paintings, many times I use images that I don’t use in my commercial work, I use women in more sexy poses and intimate moments. I work with acrylics, and love to use layers of colors to end up having some unexpected mixes, something that the flat perfection of computer vector software’s cant’ achieve.

Your greatest quality?

I pretty think I am a truly good-hearted person.

What is the biggest risk you’ve ever taken and was it worth it?

Moving to LA and start a company with people at that time I didn’t know. Life is made out of choices, risks and trusting your guts. It repaid me since I didn’t end up in sharks’ jaws but partnering with good-hearted people.

What’s the number one reason you create art.

Makes me happy and gives sense to my existence.

Do you prefer board games or video games? And what is your favorite game?

I don’t play board games for a long long long time. I’d say I prefer video games, the vintage ones when I still had time to play them and had to steal coins from my mum purse to play in the arcade place. I loved a game called “Wonderboy in Monsterland”. Cute, cool, great characters design and an intelligent game overall. Anyway I used to love board games as well. During my childhood I designed a lot of them with many themes like horror, war and football (the American one, not soccer!). For a period I wanted to become a board game designer.

Where did the Japanese influence in your work come from?

I think first of all there’s a natural strong passionate attraction to certain things, and Japan is so magic that some people get totally in love for it and it’s hard to explain. I think it’s hard to explain my love for this wonderful country, it’s something called “”Japanisme” is a term coined to describe the craze for things Japanese. It’s something I feel inside, I am totally astonished for everything that comes from Japan, the beauty of their tradition to the super pop flashy aspects of the super modern cities. I love Japanese people: I love their kindness, politeness, seriousness, and even yet they can be quite funny, playful and extremely creative. I have sketches of when I was in kindergarten designing Japanese people and Japanese elements. Not only my art but even my everyday world is colored and decorated by Japanese objects, souvenirs, junk packages, toys, books, prints, t-shirts and food. I think Japan is the most inspiring place for anybody working in a creative field. They are extremely innovative in graphic design, art and street and couture fashion.

But I think what awoke this feeling into me, was probably the “media bombing” of Japanese animation and shows on Italian TV during the 80’s. It was not just about the characters and the stories, but through animation I could experience the normal lifestyle of people, the way they ate, their houses, neighborhoods, trains, cherry blossoms, trains, student uniforms, rice balls, cherry blossoms etc etc, everything is iconic of Japan. As a little kid I got struck by all of this and developed a certain love and admiration for all of that. Even in the drawings from my kindergarten started to be a little of this. When was a teenager going to Japan, my number one dream. Now I ended up going there all the time (24 times so far) and live in a Japanese neighborhood here in LA.

Your thoughts on music.

Music is one of the necessary things for the human being. Makes us happy, makes us feel better when we are moody, gives you energy like a natural doping, keeps company, makes you forget about things it’s good to forget about.

I personally think that music with the passing of the decades lost the most of it’s magic in any type of music. It’s very rare to get truly touched by it…not many new Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Puccini, Metallica, Dead Kennedys, Michael Jackson, Fugazi, Pizzicato five, Bob Marley, Jawbreaker, Rolling Stones, Police, Pink Floyd, around anymore….

What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not working?

I like to paint, to watch/play soccer, some boxing, write to friends all over the world, cook, drink(!!!)), tidy up my home and my luggages, sketch stupid stuff.

Anything that you would like to tell us about?

Nothing that special. I just think that from day one to now, I didn’t really change that much. Thank God.

Sandwich or Burrito?

Panino!

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