Interview: alice pasquini

A visual artist from Rome who works as an illustrator, set designer, and painter. Alice’s preferred canvases are city walls and she’s traveled widely in the past few years to bring her artwork to life on the streets of different cities across the globe.
In March of 2013, while Alice was traveling the United States, she painted, for the Bushwick 5 Points project, her first large mural in the U.S.A., where it’s been a dream for her to paint.
she was able to fit us in her busy schedule for some Q&A. this is what she had to say.

Who is Alice Pasquini?
I am principally a visual artist, working as an illustrator and painter. I was born in Rome, I lived and worked in the U.K., France and Spain. I worked for a lot of different clients as an illustrator and I have embraced street art as a way to totally express myself. I traveled the world bringing my art to the streets of many countries.

When did you start doing art? Do you have a formal arts education?
At 13 it was already quite clear: I wanted to be a painter. So I enrolled in art school and then in the Academy of Fine Arts, so the more traditional paths of art. I grew up in the 90’s with hip-hop culture and my hero was a comic called Sprayliz (designed by Luca Enoch), a girl who made incredible political graffiti during the night. A few years later I studied animation and art criticism in Spain, where I worked as a designer of children’s playgrounds and then I realized that I was interested in art that interacts with people’s everyday life! When I returned to Italy in 2006, I started to make my first posters and street art has become an escape valve from my work as an illustrator. I approached the world of street art initially through posters taking my ‘comics’ in the streets: naughty girls, strong women, curious, independent. Then I met the stencil artist C215, who taught me a stencil technique that is fast to work with and which lets me leave a trace of the free hand work I could not do in a short time. Together we have traveled and painted a lot in the corners of many cities. In the last years I’m traveling on my own and mainly do large walls freehand.

What inspires you these days?
I draw people on the bus, or at the airport, in the bar or at park. I draw my friends, my sisters – sleeping or taking the coffee. I am not a portraitist. I like to tell the very little and intimate stories.

Who or what influences you?
People. I’m interested in “moving pictures”, in moments of life that in some way are universal, in which the concept doesn’t change with time: it was the same fifty years ago, it will be the same in fifty years. My pictures depict everyday moments that for me represent the real magic of life. I really think the real magic of life is the way you live every single moment.

Who are your favorite classic artists and from what era and why?
Veronese and Palladio for the surprise effect, Durer for the line, Gauguin for the colors, Leonardo for the atmosphere

What was your most memorable “street art” experience?
I have a lot of great souvenirs, a funny moment has been painting on a panel just in front of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona in the day light surrounded by tourists and police.

How was your trip to the USA?
Great! I met good people and I had a good time painting. Was a very positive trip. I had the nice feeling that it’s a place where what matter is what you do and your attitude and if you have skills. It’s not as important where you came from or who you know like in Europe.

Did you find it harder to paint in the USA than in Europe or vice versa?
Yes, it’s hard to paint illegally in the USA.

How do you feel about the movement of graffiti and street art into galleries?
To me part of the magic of street art is the moment a person is passing by and is suddenly facing something he likes out of nothing. It’s very different than the perception of a person going to a gallery to watch something, maybe with already an idea.
What’s also different is the way an artist is painting something in a rush in the street illegally in context or with calm in his studio only with himself.
I think if an artist is an artist, the work is valid in the street or in the museum, on walls or on paper.
The main problem to me is this; it’s not useful to bring in the gallery exactly the same thing you do in the street. It should be an occasion to create something different.

Do you have any favorite surfaces?
The environment is important but what influences me the most is the stories of people I meet each place I go.

What percentage of you time is devoted to art?
Painting is like breathing.

What about the Internet? How do you feel about the role of the Internet in all of this?
Internet is playing an important role. People are able to see your piece, take a photo and to feel like it’s their own by sharing with the friends or on a blog. For an independent artist it’s meant that you are able to live on your own ability with a direct contact with your followers.

Where do you work, what city?
I travel a lot but I always came back to Rome. This is a city where you live outdoors – that is beautiful to walk and lose yourself in your environment. Every corner of this city has something amazing, everything is designed by artists and you can see so much (hi)story. When you grow up in a place like this you have a lot of consideration about art. Also social life is an important thing —any excuse for having a coffee and chat.

What do you think about current politically charged street art, like that of Banksy? Do you think street art can still have a political message or has the proliferation of street art in recent years undermined its ability to do so? In your opinion, how has street art changed? Is it still a revolutionary act?
That’s history of art…all artists have tried to fight the power in one way or another, some of them fighting even taking the money from the ‘enemies’.
Anyway I don’t think art can lose its power even if you close it in a gallery.

Do you have a message in your art?
It’s from a woman’s point of view because I propose a real woman as a model in a world where heroines of comics have to be beautiful, magazines for women are filled with tips on makeup and ‘tests’ or ‘quizzes’ about women and their emotions. In textbooks, mothers continue to look after the house for their fathers or brothers, and TV and magazine ads paint them basically as unpaid cooks or maids. And girls are given sexy dolls that are supposed to reflect—or cause—their aspiration to be nothing but a beautiful doll. Things haven’t changed that much, even if sometimes it appears on the surface as though it has. I am interested in using female models outside of the typical cliches. I get annoyed by female stereotypes where women are seen either as sexual objects or cartoon heroines. I am seduced instead by real women. My whole work is from a girl’s perspective and speaks about real life—at times which can be brutal for women. In general, I am interested in the representation of human feelings.

What are you plans in the near future?
I am painting a tunnel under the Roman aquarium. Then I will be traveling all summer to paint big murals. I am working on a lot of new projects.