Artist Profile: Vincent Nappi
Updated: Apr 2
CA: What made you first start drawing?
VP: I have been doing this forever. I can’t really pinpoint a specific time I started. Everyone have been saying I have been doing it since I was little but I have been doing it for as long as I can remember.
CA: When it comes to art, what sparks a piece for you? VP: The subject matter, it has to be something I am interested in. If I am interested in it, I will end up drawing it. Art is a useful tool for me to learn more about the things I like because it gives me an excuse to look at them and sort of understand them. How does this translate into a line, tone, or drawing for example.
CA: What helps you get in the mindset to draw something? VP: Music is always good but I try not to use it. There is this quote from Picasso that I am probably butchering: “Inspiration comes but it has to find you working.” The discipline of sitting down and making something is almost more important than the inspiration. That will take care of itself. The more you work, the more you will find to be inspired by and vice versa. Having that routine to make things everyday and letting the insights come to you without forcing them.
CA: Do you have any inspiration from art (heroes)? VP: My great living hero and it is fortunate to call him my friend and mentor is George Pratt (My favorite living artist). In addition, Jeff Jones who recently died, Egon Schiele, Bernie Fuchs, Gustav Klimt, Jose Munoz, Amadeo Modigliani, Balthus, Pierre Bonnard, and Edouard Vuillard. It is an enormous list. A lot of dead guys and living people. I try to look back at those who came before me then people who are working at the same time as me.
I feel that in any business there are sort of trends that run through it. Look at clothes, Kanye wears something that is hot and everyone wants to jump on that thing. A certain illustrator will do something really well, they will have a certain way they draw things and everyone jumps on that bandwagon. The people who survive, the things they are doing are not tied to one current thing. They tend to have a broad range of influences. I do the same thing, I try to look at many things as I possibly can. I lucked out by having most of the people I like have been gone for about 100 years . If you end up leaning on them as a source of influence, it doesn’t hurt you. Basically, look at a lot of people and don’t depend on one in particular. You always want to be looking but you have to be focused more on what you are doing. At the end of the day, you are the one making your own work. You can’t ever be another version of Michaelangelo or whoever else you are looking at. There is only one of that person and only one you. You should try to be the best you. You got to be an octopus, you have to take everything.
CA: What do you feel in front of a blank canvas or piece of paper? VP: I like it. It is like man, what am I going to do. I get kind of excited. Friends of mine speak on the fear of the blank page. I have always been like man, what am I going to put down. What is going to be on this page now that wasn’t there the day before.
CA: What do you do to improve on your craft? Techniques? VP: Doing so much of it. You can always improve your technical skills, that never stops. Past a certain point, when you have achieved a certain level of visual competency. You can look at something and accurately draw it with a degree of realism. I believe it is less about technical skills and just about making more and more work. You find out what your hand naturally does when you draw or when you paint. What are the idiosyncrasies you bring to the table, what is your point of view (your personal voice) and sort of exploring those in a deeper way. Make a lot of work, that is the long and the short answer to it.
CA: What is the perfect piece of art to you if it exists? VP: I can’t pick any one piece. I don’t think it exists. If anyone says there is a perfect piece of art, I guarantee the person who made it would go this is terrible while exclaiming they could have done better.
CA: Why do you feel that is the case? VP: We are all our own worst critics. We look at the stuff make at the end of the day and feel we could have done better. You keep making work and never settling. I feel the moment you declare you have made your magnus opus, you kind of screwed yourself. Let the other people do that for you after you are dead.
CA: How do you describe your style? VP: Style is another strange question. It goes back to making a lot of work and finding out what it is you do that is natural to you that no one else does. You are not thinking about style. I think the minute you try and force a style on something, is the minute you kill it. I don’t think anyone should ever do that. It should be the natural outcome of you creating things. The things that you like to do and the things you like to exaggerate.
CA: I looked up some of your work on your blog and it gives me a Sin City/Noir feel. Any influences from that movie or comics in your depictions of art? VP: You know what is funny? I’ve never read Sin City. People would bring up Frank Miller quite often around me. The only Frank Miller I picked up was Batman Returns which was created in the 80s. This was the book that reinvented Batman to what it is right now. If I evoke that kind of mood, I am glad. This is not something I pushed forth consciously. I guess this is how I interpret all my influences and how I put them out there, sort of the things that appeal to me visually.
CA: Do you prefer pens, pencils, or a brush when creating your works? VP: I’m sitting next to them right now. I tend to work with calligraphy nibs and a big jar of ink. I dip in it and start to draw. I use a few brushes and recently started playing with a parallel pen. It is similar to a nib pen but it is for the on the go drawings.
CA: How long have you been doing artwork? VP: I have been doing it for 18 years. I will say I have been drawing since 5.
CA: Do you have a favorite piece? VP: No. I might like a piece when I do it but then I start something new. It becomes the thing that engages me for the time being. There are certainly drawings that stand out to me or paintings I really enjoy. But they might not be my best pieces. They might not be that well drawn. I might like a piece from another artist that is not technically perfect but possesses something I find interesting.
CA: What do you feel is the best quality in terms of art that you have right now? VP: I feel like the drawings I make are pretty bold that have an energy and a life to them that I like. I feel the people respond strongly to it.
CA: And the biggest opportunity for growth in regards to art you have as of right now? VP: I finished my first graphic novel earlier this year. When you do comics, you learn immediately what you are bad at because you are drawing so much. You are working with different perspectives, architecture, vehicles, people, different expressions and emotions. You are the set designer, costume maker, director (practically everything for the book). I also did a comic project for a place called BOOM! Studios and that was fun. You immediately learn what you are bad at to cover it up. You try to turn that weakness into a strength. I feel like any dissatisfaction I have with my work, I would make more to organically overcome the problems I might have. You throw yourself a curve ball to give yourself something to react too to improve by doing something different.
CA: What is fun and rewarding for you in regards to drawing? VP: It is fun, it is intrinsically enjoying. It is it’s own reward. Having someone reach out to do an interview for something you do professionally and for leisure is flattering. I think people’s responses are cool but I don’t look for them. If you are constantly seeking people’s opinions, you have to develop a thick skin about this is what I’m going after (this is what I like). Not everyone’s opinion is going to agree with that premise. There is a certain level of skill you have to bring to the table before you disregards everyone else’s opinion. The more you form your own voice, you begin to dictate the standards you set for yourself. That is no excuse for a bad drawing or a bad painting or anything like that. You learn what you like to do and you bring a certain level of competency to the table. Continually setting your own goal and achieving them where your art is concerned.
CA: Where do you want to take your career in art? VP: I like a lot of different things. Right now, I am hammering away at the fashion stuff. We kind of get bombarded with photography every day. We are the tumblr generation. Everything is scroll, scroll, scroll, stop (that looks good), scroll, scroll, scroll. Everyone likes art. Everyone likes to look at art. Art compels attention in a way photography can’t necessarily. It is hard to find photography that does that. Illustration used to be everywhere. I feel like with the fashion stuff, there is a void. There is a handful of people doing it and they are getting all the work, I can count them on one hand. I want to inject some life in that particular industry. Getting back to what I do, Comics are a lot of fun and telling stories with pictures is a blast. I plan to continue to do that as well.
CA: How do you want your work/portfolio to be remembered for? VP: I don’t want to worry about things about legacy and stuff. I let people talk about it when I am no longer here.
CA: What is the best advice you can give someone with a strong desire to do art like yourself? VP: Draw, draw, and draw some more. You got to work at it. This is the long game setting. You can’t step into the industry fully formed (you can but that is rare). You have to prepare, really enjoy it, and love it. This has to be for yourself and not for the money. The money doesn’t come so fast as you would want it too. It is the long game which becomes your whole life. You have to be engaged with it every single day. You have to be constantly learning about the craft and find people who inspire. Making things every day.