inside the mesmeric mind of ignasi monreal, the artist behind gucci's SS18 'hallucination'

inside the mesmeric mind of ignasi monreal, the artist behind gucci's SS18 'hallucination'

hallucination, the enigmatic moniker of gucci’s spring summer 2018 campaign, daringly interrupted the fashion world’s traditional advertising cues. glossy models were substituted for ornately-illustrated characters culled from art history’s most important sources, each ironically donning the collection’s colorful and printed designs. mermaids on a rock sport ice-skater inspired gowns; women fishing in the clouds carry gucci’s ‘ophidia’ tote; and a hybrid human-tigress touts the radical rectangular-frame acetate sunglasses. these art historical ‘hallucinations’ were the brainchild of spanish artist ignasi monreal, who was given ‘absolute freedom’ by gucci to unleash his vivid visions onto the entire creative campaign.



for this striking body of work, gucci and monreal were recently nominated for THE DESIGN PRIZE 2019 in the category of communication. we spoke with monreal about his digital painting practice, his current creative fascinations, and how his body of work is increasingly expanding into more and more complex paths.



designboom (DB): what aspects of your background and upbringing have shaped your creative principles and philosophies?


ignasi monreal (IM): my mother used to tell me greek myths instead of fairytales so I believe they shaped my view of the world. I like to use the principles of classicism so I can subvert it after.



DB: how would you describe your approach to art to someone you just met?


IM: a good friend once said that my style could be called ‘monrealism’, so when I opened my company I knew I already had a name for it. normally when I get this question I say I paint for a living, although at this point of my career my body of work has expanded into more complex paths. I’m interested in the timeless quality of art and its ‘archeological’ role for future generations, that’s why I’m very drawn to universal symbology and realism, because it’s a language anybody can understand.



DB: what are the creative strategies you adopt when working?


IM: I start by sketching a lot, I put down all my ideas (good and bad) very roughly on paper or on my ipad. from there I start editing, cleaning up the sketches and finally painting. animation adds more steps to the process but that’s another topic.



DB: what set your collaboration with gucci on the SS18 campaign in motion?


IM: it started with an email from gucci with an unbelievable offer.



DB: what was your role in the creative process? were you given a strict brief, or a lot of creative freedom?


IM: I was given absolute freedom — in fact I once asked if they had any input and they answered that they didn’t want to influence my creative process. it was scary at first, but alessandro michele’s blind faith gave me the confidence to trust in my work.



DB: for the campaign imagery and motifs, what sources of inspiration did you draw from?


IM: mostly european figurative art history: romanticism, renaissance, baroque…some are more obvious than others, for example a van eyck & bosch mashup. it’s a tribute to some of my favourite masters set against a post modern backdrop.



DB: what techniques do you use to eventually realize the images?


IM: for this project it was all digital painting using photoshop and an ipad.



DB: overall, what are you currently fascinated by, and how is it feeding into your artistic practice?


IM: at the moment, I’m increasingly interested in the 3rd dimension instead of the flatness of 2D. I’m working in collaboration with my friends jack wooley and bernardo moleon to build a handmade ceramic wifi router, to bring craftsmanship into technology. we will show the piece at galleria stefania miscetti in rome at the end of october 2019.




DB: what are you afraid of regarding the future? what are you optimistic about?


IM: I would be afraid of a global shutdown and losing all my work stored in the cloud, but I’m optimistic because summer is around the corner and the light in rome is very special these days.



DB: what boundaries are you trying to break for yourself, or what goal are you working towards right now?


IM: defining and finding a place for my personal work. for years I’ve prioritized clients to personal expression and now my goal is to change that.




edison, one of the largest energy companies in italy, has been a partner and promoter of the initiative since its inception in 2017. this year, edison continues its collaboration with THE DESIGN PRIZE, the international award dedicated to project culture, which is also a virtuous expression of co-planning based on the efficient use of resources for the construction of a sustainable future. edison brings its unique experience, know-how, and 130-year-long history in the energy sector to the design prize, helping foster a horizontal approach to design. together with the leading professionals and architects, edison proposes intelligent solutions for cities and people in favor of a more evolved and sustainable lifestyle.

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