Tommaso "pariah" Meli's Alternative Meds

Interview with young Italian graphic designer Tommaso "pariah" Meli

Tommaso Meli

AZH: Please tell us about yourself: how old are you, where do you live, how did you become an illustrator, where do you work?

Hi! I'm Tommaso Meli. I'm a 28 years old graphic designer, I live in Parma, in the north of Italy, a city famous for its food tradition and for the Romanic art which is like a nice and pretty chick with no real substance, a shell with no soul.
I'm not a full time illustrator, I never had any art education so I started illustrating only as a therapy for myself, everything happens after I finish my work (positive feedbacks, collaborations, books, shows, etc.) is an awesome bonus.
Well, sincerely speaking, it's a great satisfaction everytime I see someone that can relate with my works or simply appreciate them for their aesthetic, but this goes into another total different discussion.
I try to use my self-destructing ideas to build or create something that it can be somehow beautiful or satisfying, "in primes" for myself than for the others, sometimes I reach what I’m aiming for, someothers I don't, that's way I need to train hard to get more away to express.

Tommaso Meli
investigatio - equilibrium

AZH: What has been the biggest influence on your art?

I think my works go straight under the label (which is basically a non-label) of "Low Brow" or "Pop surrealism".
This genre is influenced by an incredible variety of styles, medias, ideas, philosophies and this is a good thing cause it's always evolving, it connects a huge number of persons without restricting them into rigid categories.
I literally underline things we share instead of creating contraposition or putting our Eritages/styles/social extraction first.
Music Genres (hardcore-punk/old school hip hop), life styles (skate/snowboarding- street style - vegetarianism), entertainments (Japanese Animation, Manga, Videogames, Movies, Comics),
tattoo art (Japanese Horimono, U.S. traditional, Mexican "Los Muertos"), Asian arts (Tibetan, Japanese, Indian, Chinese), all of these things have a big part in my all-days life and influence me directly or not.

AZH: Could you name some of your favorite artists?

Well it's big-huge-mega list that goes from street art, tattoos, comics to more conventional arts, I'll name the firsts that came to my mind:
Blu, ericailcane, Os Gemeos, "Beautiful Losers" collective, kill pixie, Dan May, Jeff Soto, Jason Limon, Jeremy Fish, the belgian collective "hellomonsters", Heiko Muller, Katsuhiro Otomo, Mamoru Oshii, Hayao Miyazaki, Moebius, Milo Manara, the horimono master Horioshi III, Egon Schiele, Alfons Mucha , I could name them for hours...I can find infinite "favorite artists", it's all about my mood of the moment that makes feel more fit with an artist instead of another.

Tommaso Meli
The Last Resort - cross fingers, close eyes

AZH: Do your illustrations have any stories or massages? Could you explain some of them?

My illustrations are basically all I have to say or I can't explain clearly enough with words, they are all about big and small things in my life, they are full of messages and symbolism and I'm pretty sure they are hard to decode at the deepest level but they are all based on pretty common feelings, easy to recognize I would say. The mood in them is most of time pessimistic, disillusioned about life and delusional, but as I said, I use them as a therapy/cure, have you ever heard of someone going to a doctor and asking for a cure cause is too fit or healthy? Or someone going to the therapist and lamenting an excessive state of happiness or joy :D?
I also find myself not good at drawing happy and cute things so I let this business to people that are better than me (and there is a huge bunch out there :) )
Since I have the chance to explain some of my works, which is not a common thing I think, I will go for two of my most "felt" works:

Tommaso Meli
A story of lifes and lines(and lies), the life thread

The First one is "a story of life’s and lines (and lies), the life thread": well the title it's pretty self-explaining , this work is about the sense of oppression that I feel sometimes when I'm not able to stop/slow down the avalanche of events that keep melting merging and influencing each others. I did various drawings with this theme, everyone with a different mood or stroke, but this one is sure "the darkest" and the hardest to look at cause it brings up bad moments and memories. I had totally lost the control every single aspect of my life, physical and mental health, love, friendship, career, ego, self-esteem. Everything went downhill like an unstoppable avalanche that kept growing constantly and the harder I tried to put order in that thread of events the harder I failed, giving me the feeling I was playing and already written screenplay I was only acting without having a chance to change it. I truly felt my actions were totally useless.

Tommaso Meli
ciao nonna

The other work is "Ciao nonna" which it means "bye grandmother"
Recently I've lost my old beloved grandma which was like a mother to me, she raised me till my 16 when my parents were busy with their respective works, I owe her most of my awesome childhood and most of the benefits of my life belong to her and to her incredible strength. I tried to do something lyrical and "dreamy" but I will never be able to make that person the deserved justice but at least I tried :). I wanted her as the lightsource in the drawing I think I got the effect somehow.

AZH: How do you create them? Do you make a draft on paper before going on the computer or do you create them at the computer from scratch?

The process depends on the media I'm going to use. When I go for anologic way I use the classical methods (sketching-inking etc), but when I go in the digital way I build everything with software’s (illustrator, Photoshop) and a tablet.
If I use vectors I go straight to the final drawing and I do corrections or changes in the process. I must say that Computer has a big role in my "art"; it helped me a lot with my lack of art education.

Tommaso Meli

AZH: Have you ever had any exhibitions (solo or group)?

I have been into various group shows and I have some others coming in the future but I never had a solo show, and I feel pretty inadequate (about having a solo s.) seeing how good are other people out there, maybe in the future I will change this idea

AZH: Did any magazines or books publish your pictures?

I have my works, in/onto some books/fanzines/t-shirts all around the world and all of this thanks to "the internet" which I think it's a fantastic place to share and find people and also gave me the chance to collaborate with some super talented guys like Leo Espinosa
or "the pearpicker".

Tommaso Meli
It could be me but it's actually paul paper

AZH: Could you tell us about your local art scene? Could you recommended some other artist to see? Galleries, places? Maybe tell us something interesting?

As I said before my city is pretty polite and well educated but we have our unconventional talents here, I have two friends which are super skilled and do fantastic works,
They are James Kalinda and PsychoBoy54, they have incredible skills and techniques and they "think" and "do" in a very radical way! I love the things they do a lot!
You can find them on flickr, I suggest you to check their galleries if you want some unconventional medicines.
I think we are going to do something together in the near future.

In my region (Emilia-Romagna) the scene is pretty alive and two of the most important Italian artists live here, I named them before into my faves, they are ericailcane and Blu (blu).
They do some of the most awesome walls in the whole world and Blu is famous for his animations in stop-motion painted over the walls like "muto" which literally blow always the whole international art community

These two guys provides universal messages that seems our nation have forgotten, infinite respect to them for showing the world we still have a brain

MUTO (a wall-painted animation by BLU):

Tommaso Meli

Tommaso Meli
stato di grazia/state of grace

Tommaso Meli
support her hotness

Tommaso Meli
Kali Maha

Tommaso Meli
small world collapse

Pictures (с) Tommaso Meli

by Oleksandr Khaverchuk


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