A quick scroll through Fucci’s Instagram instantly reveals curves galore, displayed in an intense colour palette. In a smartphone-driven age capable of displaying the full gamut of colours (and endless amounts of free pornography), few images are as immediately alluring as Fucci’s brightly rendered sensuality.
As he tells it, the work we know as Fucci today was the result of yourself in unexpected places, and running with it to do what feels right to you. Ahead of Blank Canvas’s opening exhibit this Thursday, we caught up with Fucci about the women in his work, the importance of staying humble, and the infamous Parra beef.
Growing up, what were your artistic influences that you were drawn to and how has that changed as you’ve gotten older? How have those influences affected your current work?
I grew up in a small town in Northern Ontario; it was a mining town with a huge flourishing punk and arts scene in the city. I was 15-16 at the time, and these older skateboarder kids who were throwing up graffiti were all enrolled at the local college in the graphic design program. They were pumping out really Bauhaus-influenced, mid-century German-type graphic design work and all the flyers that were around the city were in a very clean minimalist kind of style, which was really cool to look at. That was pretty inspiring.
What kind of arts education/experience are you going off of?
I’ve been in arts school since I was 15 years old. I went to an all-arts high school where I had a graphic design class, and I used to look forward to that class ‘cause I could make things in Photoshop and use it for my band – I would make flyers and print them off on the school photocopier when nobody was looking.
After that I just drifted around and played music with my friends; I wasn’t really interested in school. I never graduated high school – I dropped out in Grade 11 to go on tour and play music. But three years later the whole music thing wasn’t really working out, and I was broke all the time. I decided to enroll in a graphic design program to further what I learned on my own. Then I went to Savannah College of Art & Design and received my Masters in Graphic Design. So that’s definitely helped with my illustration and my discipline in design for sure.
When did you first start creating and what was the first thing you created that you were proud of?
Probably show flyers from back in the day, those are probably some of my first favourite pieces. But other than that? The stuff that I’m creating now.
At what point did you decide to pursue a career as an artist, at what point did you feel that you were on the right path with that?
I never really felt like I was “on the right path” – I never even thought I would be doing this, to tell you the truth. I was working as a graphic designer doing a bunch of corporate agency work and just bummed about it. I realized I no longer enjoyed art – I needed to get inspired again, I needed to get creative again.
I started just drawing random sketches of stuff to pass the time, and to do more stuff that wasn’t on the computer. I started drawing what you see now as Fucci, put it on Instagram in 2014, and it gained traction from there. It was never meant to become anything more than just a hobby or creative project – just a side project to keep me sane, you know?
So now you’re practicing as Fucci, as an artist. How do you go about conceptualizing and producing each of those pieces?
It always just starts with the character’s pose; I’m really into weird contorted poses. At the beginning it was a lot more nasty and there wasn’t a lot of thought put behind the work. But then again, at the beginning it was just for fun – it means more to me now, and now I really spend time on my work. There are some pieces where I might spend a week and a half on just the basic illustration before I translate that into a painting.
I have sketchbooks full of work. I dated this girl previously who drew a lot. She was always drawing and I was kind of jealous, because I was just doing stuff in Photoshop or InDesign and Illustrator all the time. She was really hands on; colouring and drawing and doing proper line work. She’s done a lot of pinup stuff and I was super inspired by her process, so I kind of just started drawing with her.
Why do you believe your work has primarily focused on the female form and sexuality?
I really appreciate the female body – the curvature, the form, the cattiness of some poses – it’s just a lot more fun to draw. It’s also something I’m passionate about; it means more to me that drawing naked men per say (laughs). I draw the figures I really like in a woman; curvy women are fun to draw.
If you had to assign a character or identity to the woman in your work, who is she?
Bodywise? Kim Kardashian probably (laughs). The fact that my characters don’t have faces, she’s really kind of nameless. I find that without a face, it’s a lot more relatable for all people. It’s not based on a specific female.
So she’s like an everywoman — you can let her be whoever you want her to be to that specific person.
How do you believe your art reflects aspects of your identity?
It’s not parts of my personality but parts of my life and experiences. Every piece has something to do with an experience I’ve had.
In the process of creating and making art as Fucci, what have you learned about yourself as a person?
I learned that I don’t really like the spotlight, and I was right about that, that’s why I started creating under an alias.
Every day is a different experience for me. Every time I draw, I get better, and if you look at my work from 2014 versus the stuff that I’m pumping out this year, I’ve become a better artist. It also taught me that speed isn’t important; you really learn to enjoy and appreciate what you’re creating.
I’ve also learned you can’t really hang onto things – art is supposed to be shared. I don’t have a physical attachment to much, but if you spend a month on it, it kind of becomes like your baby. And then you have to ship it out and never see it again – but it’s not the end of the world, you can always make more.
Yeah, I think if anything that void that’s created by the art leaving you kind of motivates you more.
Yeah, and it cleans the slate every time. When you’re finishing up that painting, packing it, crating it and shipping it across the world it’s like… it’s a blank canvas. Right after that you’re back at phase one and you’re able to create whatever you want.
What are some of the best assets that you believe someone can have as an up-and-coming artist?
Don’t be full of yourself, don’t be egotistical. That bit of noise or buzz around you that can be taken away at any second and you can become old news tomorrow. If someone else follows your art or buys a painting from you, that puts food on your table. Never take that for granted. Keep in mind there are artists who paint for their entire lives and never have a chance to be featured in a gallery or travel the world to go show their art. Take each day as a blessing.
Another thing is to never sell yourself short. Also, always try to create something every day. The longer you stop, the harder it becomes to get back on it. Always keep creating, always keep challenging yourself.
LESSONS, TRIALS and GROWTH
You’ve built a significant following on Instagram and social media – what is it about your work that you feel has drawn people in?
The colours are bright and properly curated amongst the work – I spend most of my time on the colours alone. The fact that it’s the female form, which is loved by everyone… whether you’re attracted to women or not, it’s relatable. Whether it’s an ex-girlfriend or experience that they’ve had in their lives, just the appreciation of women in general – you know?
Okay, if you had to say anything on the Parra beef, what would you say to address the situation?
I don’t care. If you feel you like you own a certain style of art, I think that’s ridiculous. I don’t want to be compared and I don’t want to ride on anyone’s coattails. I’m doing my own thing and he’s doing his.
Who are some fellow artists in Toronto whose work you really admire?
Rajni Perera is really cool, and Hatecopy who I think you’re organizing a show with? I think she’s really dope. Outside of Toronto, John Wesley – He’s a really good pop artist and I think he deserves a lot more attention. Cleon Peterson, Paul Kremer, and definitely Ben Frost; he’s a legend. I’m really excited to be showing with him in Australia in May.
What’s next for you going forward, not just in terms of your work as Fucci but also in terms of your personal growth?
I’m starting a brand called “Sick Of Planet Earth” where I can release some designs on t-shirts and other garments. I’m working on our Fall/Winter collection right now. After that, just getting my work out in Europe. Within the next year to show in Finland or Norway, that’d be the dream.
Fucci will be showing at Blank Canvas’ Opening Exhibition tomorrow, April 21st 2016 (1544 Bloor St. W, Toronto.)