The great murals, canvas paintings and drawings of the Italian artist NICK NEIM can be recognized by female characters with unmistakable large eyes. His murals are scattered around the globe in urban areas, but can also be found on many unique products from well-known brands or even be seen in films. Together with Marco Cominini aka MYSTIC MARK and Claudio Cretti aka ILCLOD he forms the fantastic crew ART OF SOOL.
NICK NEIM is actually called Nicola Fedriga and comes from a small village in the middle of the Alps in northern Italy. He studied graphic design in Milan and graduated from the Academy of Arts in Brescia, but long before his studies he was already spending all his pocket money for aerosol cans. Graffiti and spraying is his deep passion, but also the creative work with many other different instruments, techniques and backgrounds. Or often he simply combines all things together in mixed media. For example under his alter ego “Mr OvO”, Nicola shows pencil drawings of surreal cyber animals.
His two crew members were once also his roommates in college and after a joint mural action in 2010, Art of Sool was born. Everything was just right, the ideas, the passion and the implementation. Three artist hands, one combined style. In any case, the comic-heavy characters and figures are a trademark. The crew also loves to fill up the entire screen and composition in great detail. You can spend hours before these works and always discover something new. Works on smaller media have already been shown in exhibitions at the WhiteLight Art Gallery in Milan, the Carousel du Louvre in Paris or in Spazio San Giorgio in Bologna, just to mention a few locations.
Art of Sool has made a good name for itself in the ten years of joint creation and has designed innovative designs and logos for numerous brands such as Red Bull, Vans, Clipper, Dolly Noire, Warsteiner, Pampers or Adidas, created illustrations and storyboards or painted vehicles and clothes. The three artists have already beautifully decorated countless large walls, given impressive live sessions and participated in countless festivals like the Meeting of Styles in Milan, the Blend Festival in Frankfurt or the Shake Well Festival in Bordeaux. Art of Sool also organizes annual events such as the Wall of Giants or the Lake of Giants in Italy.
In an interview, Nicola tells us about his art and the emergence of Art of Sool. The career was certainly not easy at first, but the dedicated team can now look back on a true success story with fabulous works in a wide variety of areas after ten years of existence. On the front, of course, there are the mighty murals. Here is the podcast of the interview, in the following the conversation is also written and peppered with works by NICK NEIM and the Art of Sool Crew.
When have you been to Frankfurt and did this nice artwork at the Guneş Theater?
My first time to Frankfurt was two years ago with my crew and one year ago alone by myself. This was for the Blend Festival. Because Sit Sticker who is an artist and a friend from Frankfurt invited me and Art of Sool to paint at the festival.
So during that visit you painted this character I mentioned. A very recognizable part of your art are these very nice bit eyes.
Yes, thank you. I like eyes, because to paint women on the wall and the eyes an important part of the characters for me. I can lose myself in details like painting eyes or big faces on huge surfaces. In this way I found my personal style. I also like to play with light and shadow in my art and the eyes are perfect for this.
I am just looking at your Instagram photos. So this one picture here, it is not a woman but looks more like Spongebob Squarepants. And here is something with only one eye. You have the eyes as well on stickers and here on a halfpipe.
Oh yes. Because I play with skateboards and snowboards. That is a ramp, actually a quarter. And I painted a lot of quarters as well in my art and often behind my girl I created.
So for you one very main point are the big eyes. You put it not even on characters like on the women, you put the eyes as well in other objects. You combine the eyes with things you like.
I like to paint eyes women mainly, but when I paint the other things like quarters, ramps or other characters, the eyes are not that important there for me. Just for the woman because I spent a lot more time with this motif than with other characters.
The main parts are really the women’ faces, but for me this eyes are something like a little hint for other people. Like: “Hey, open your eyes! Look closer when you walk around the city and check what´s on the walls and what is happening!” Because sometimes people are only on the phone and they are not taking attention. But if you really look around the city you can find a lot of nice artworks. Sometimes they are not even that big. So open your eyes.
Yes, it is a good message.
Do you make as well stickers?
Yes, I do. I studied in the academy of arts and I studied graphic design. So I started to make stickers and digital graphics. And we made a lot of exchanges with sticker artists around the world. For example Sit Sticker, he is a sticker artist from Frankfurt. And we know Sit because he makes sticker.
You studied graphic design. How did it develop that you started doing murals, graffiti and artworks on buildings and walls?
I did always graffiti because I like it so much to spray. Before I went to the academy I already painted with spray. Subsequently I continued using it at the school where I started as well to paint, to draw and to sculpt. But I worked there also with the spray. After that I went to the academy of arts in the near city of Brescia where I studied graphic design. There I created the project Art of Sool with my two roommates. That was in 2010.
So you are three artists in the crew. And you are doing projects and collaborations in Milan. But do you also organize some events like streetart festivals or graffiti jams?
We do both. I did meanwhile a lot of collaboration work with international brands and art wall organizers. And I also organize jam festivals myself in the north of Italy. The names are Wall of Giants and Lake of Giants. This year the lighter brand Clipper prints some photos of our work on the stuff, paper maps and the lighters of the jam.
Festivals are very good to get connections to other artists.
Yes, I love festivals. I participated at many festivals in Italy and also in Europe like Shake Well in Bordeaux in France or Blend Festival in Frankfurt.
It is very cool at these festivals when artists from all around the world come together, travel to another country and make their art there. But it is very important that people organize these festivals. There has to be somebody who organizes it. And you and your crew are doing this in Italy. That´s very good!
Thank you, yes, I love meeting other artists at the festivals. And I love to show other people our art, the graffiti and our style.
I am watching the whole time your photos on Instagram and Facebook. I really like your art and in between there are some photos of a tiny little sketchbook you have. Sometimes there is a photograph of a mural, like very big, and then there is the photo of the little book with very detailed drawings where you put down your ideas and impressions you have. Everything starts in your head and with some sketches.
Yes, when I travel I love to catch my point of view with this sketchbook at the places and different cities. I am inspired by the city and the environment during my travels.
Sure, you take the impressions you get. There are a lot of nice photos and you are always showing the background combined with the book. For example here is a tower and you just draw the lower part of the tower like a spray can. Then you are holding it to the tower for the photograph. So it´s like you are making a double artwork because first there is the drawing and then you do this photo. But it´s like a scenery photo collage, it´s a very interesting mix.
Yes, I need some minutes to do the photo because it´s not a one shot. I do maybe around ten photos and then I choose the best.
It´s very cool. The effect of the photo is much more interesting. You could also only post the drawing on your sketchbook, but you put this sketchbook with the drawing into a scenery and altogether it´s a cool photo collage.
Thank you! But like I post it, it´s not a photo collage. It´s a real photo.
Yes, I know. It´s a real photo. But the concept or the style is a combination of your drawing and the background. You are putting two instruments together which is this sketchbook story. And meanwhile you have a lot of different places now from various cities or from the beach or from New York. You could do an exhibition only with those photos.
Thank you. I will think about that. But yes, every drawing is linked to the city or the place where I made it.
Do you do as well exhibitions with other artists or solo?
Yes, I had many exhibitions in Italy already. I did it for galleries or for big brands like Clipper, Adidas, the beer brand Warsteiner or Red Bull. And this year we will do an exhibition for our anniversary of ten years of Art of Sool in Milan. So it is the plan.
I see here for Red Bull you painted a car. You covered the whole car with an artwork.
Yes, it´s a custom car. It was a car of an event with Red Bull and the Italian brand Dolly Noir. Actually soon we could paint a big wall for Red Bull but the Covid-19 situation stopped the plans now.
I am now on the website of Art of Sool. There are a lot of nice artworks. Here are even skateboards. You do artworks on skateboards or on helmets, there are also tattoos. So if other people like your art and want to support you or buy something, do you have a shop where people can buy your work like on t-shirts, prints or canvas?
Our website is not e-commercial. We do projects and drawings with t-shirts and other stuff, but we sell it directly to the people.
If people are interested in any kind of merchandising, if they want to projects with you or if they want to have some paintings, the easiest way is just to write you an email.
Yes, contact me by email or on Instagram. Yes, that´s perfect. But we are working on an e-commerce website for the future. This art for me and my crew, that is our work, our job. The international brands or companies pay us for doing a wall, for commission work, for custom designs or to do a design on fashion and wear products. But it was and is not easy. For having this opportunities we worked now for ten years on our project.
It is a lot of work and I am sure in the beginning you had to do a lot for free and you had just to do and to do and to do.
Yes, yes, for free and to do and to do and to do. Without any money and payment. It was hard but now we did it. Other people should not stop to draw, to make things or to make what they love. And they have to believe in themselves and one day from all that you will get something back. I was lucky that I found two people who have the same ideas like I do and the same attitude. We started to do things together and we support each other.
Every artist know that your crew is as well like your family. Often even more than friends. It´s art and friendship and passion together. If you have some good people who are on the same level you can build up really fantastic things.
Yes, a good team is very important. And we lived together for several years. We lived and worked together. Art of Sool started with one inside wall which we draw together. One day we decided to draw a wall inside the apartment and so Art of Sool was born.
Explain me more the name. So why Art of Sool? “A trip with Italian artists”. I love that, your logo is very nice.
Art of Sool is like Art of Soul, like soul. But with the two “o”, because it was better for the graphic. We are using the two “o” for eyes and small faces.
And here we have the eyes again. This could be now like open your eyes to look in somebody´s soul.
Yes, you got it!
Some of your paintings like this one at Urban Giants last year in Milan, the blue one at this factory building or the one at the Yellow Jam in Brescia, they are very detailed works. Here with all the water bubbles and everything is flowing into each other.
Yes, I am obsessed with details. And I like very much to paint and to draw. When I have a big wall, that is perfect.
If I compare this with other very nice artworks, sometimes you have just this one writing. Maybe the name or a word. And then there is maybe just only one character or two. But you and your crew you just put characters and faces as much as possible all over. It´s very nice because you can spend hours to watch the space.
This style is the very original style of Art of Sool. Our first goal was to find an original and recognizable style developed by three hands. So when we realized it that this style could work, we used it to make many things and collaborations. In all artworks by Art of Sool you can find a lot of details, characters and small fonts.
Some more information about your crew. So it´s you Nick Neim and then there is Mark of Sool and Claudio Cretti.
Yes, Claudio Cretti is the real name. His art name is ILCLOD. He likes mostly the comic style. Like the Italian style comics. As well he likes cartoons and mangas.
What about Mark, what is his name?
His name is Marco Cominini and he has a lot of different talents. He sings in a band and draws with Art of Sool, as well he loves nature and dreams and also he makes tattoos. I also made tattoos but I prefer the big walls and to paint my faces.
So you are good team and you all like to do characters in the comic style. Something you can find in a lot of your artworks is that they are full of characters.
Yes, we like to fill up the composition.
Carpe Diem! Use the space. So wait, not Carpe Diem, more Carpe Space. Use the space on the wall.
Yes, everywhere at every place and space.
You paint a lot of nice paintings on the wall but as well you do very nice artworks on canvas and you do oil paintings as well.
Yes, because I always had a passion for the different figurative techniques. So I was very interested to try all techniques. But when I tried spray cans I fell in love with them.
This one here is very nice. The Mona Lisa you made. You did it in your style with the big eyes and as well added a mouth protection Very cool with the mask.
Thank you. Yes, I like also to paint on canvas or doing mixed media on canvas. My favorite technique there is oil and often I mix oil with spray. It´s wired but I like it.
No, it´s not wired at all. It´s art! So you can mix whatever you want.
Yes, thanks. I think art means everything to me. It is also important for me to say that I come from a small village surrounded by the Alps in the north of Italy. It´s about two hours from Milan. And at the beginning it was very difficult. In fact I painted alone with unprofessional spray because there weren´t shops for buying spray cans. And I used all my pocket money buying spray cans. So it is important for people who also come from a small village like me: They can do it if they really want!
Art of Sool
Marco Cominini / MYSTIC MARK: https://www.facebook.com/markofsool/
Marco Cominini / MYSTIC MARK: https://www.instagram.com/mark_artofsool
Claudio Cretti / ILCLOD: https://www.facebook.com/ilClodArtofSOOL/
Claudio Cretti / ILCLOD: https://www.instagram.com/ilclod_artofsool
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