Philanthropists and Palindromes

Filantropi Palindromi (Philanthropic Palindromes)
Political logo restyling.

Here goes an Internet meme related to the Italian political elections of 2018: it’s an unofficial restyling of a logo design. It reads: «Più filantropi con nomi palindromi», Italian for «More philanthropists with palindromes names». It’s part of a series created for a social media viral experience. Stay tuned for more politically incorrect artwork!

Claudio Borghi Aquilini: The Euro Ripper

Claudio Borghi Aquilini: The Euro Ripper
Austerity deconstructivism and sovereignist avant-garde.

Here goes a portrait of Italian economist Claudio Borghi Aquilini (degree in Economics and Banking, and a Master of the Italian Association of Financial Analysts), science popularizer, and currently economic advisor for the political party Lega (League). He started his experience in the financial markets at the young age of 19 while still a student, rapidly gaining relevant positions as a collaborator or worker for Solomon Brothers, Merrill Lynch, and Deutsche Bank. Later on, he become professor of Economics of Financial Intermediation at the Università del Sacro Cuore (Catholic University of the Sacred Heart) in Milan, and also professor of Economics of Credit Companies, and Economy and Art Market.
As an Euroskeptic journalist, Claudio Borghi wrote many articles warning about the problems related to Euro and the European Union. In 2013, together with other economists from Europe, he presented in Brussels the European Solidarity Manifesto, supporting the need for a coordinated dissolution of the Eurozone. He also wrote Basta Euro (Stop Euro, 2014), a manual against European Union’s surrealist demagogy.
Borghi is known for being a tenacious debater. Among several different episodes, during one of his appearances on Italian television, he unmasked the amazing incompetence of his opponent Filippo Taddei, who was claiming that the corralito was a new currency adopted in Argentina. This epic battle became the subject of many internet memes.
Although from opposite ideological backgrounds, Borghi is probably one of the main influences in Alberto Bagnai‘s decision to run as a candidate for the 2018 political elections in Italy.

Besides being an austerity deconstructivist inside the sovereigntist avant-garde, Claudio Borghi is also an art collector and investor, author of the book Investire Nell’Arte – Il Nuovo Oro: Come Salvare I Propri Risparmi Dalla Crisi (Investing In Art – The New Gold: How to Save Your Own Savings from The Crisis, 2013).

The mixed media illustration above was painted with different custom-made brushes and it hasn’t been approved by the European Union. Can you spot the subliminal message?

Alberto Bagnai For Dummies

Prophet Alberto Bagnai
The prophet of the Euro-crisis.

This illustration is a portrait of Alberto Bagnai, economist (with a degree in Economics and Commerce and a Ph.D. in Economic Sciences), science popularizer, and professor of Economic Policy at the University of Chieti.
Beside all of his academic works as a researcher, in 2011 he gave birth to Goofynomics, one of the most influential and awarded Italian blogs in the economic field, focused on public debt, Eurozone crisis and the problems related to Euro. The success achieved with his website continued with the publication of two books: Il Tramonto Dell’Euro (The Euro Sunset, 2012), and L’Italia Può Farcela (Italy Can Do It, 2014).
Traditionally and historically known as a leftist, a few months before the 2018 political elections in Italy, Alberto Bagnai announced that he was going to run as a candidate for the Lega (League), which is considered a right-wing party. The reason he gave for this choice is simple: it’s the only party that offered a concrete political space to his most awkward and urgent ideas. The current left ignored his warnings about the European Union politics and its currency. Furthermore, it «has been executing on behalf of third parties a program of social reforms heavily oriented against the interests of workers» and the people in general. According to Bagnai, the pensée unique hijacked the traditional left and its leaders. To paraphrase Bertolt Brecht, they thought that if the people didn’t agree, then it would be easier to dissolve them and appoint a new people in their place.

Alberto Bagnai (who, as well, is known by the mainstream media as Gianroberto, Norberto, Eriberto, Adriano, Uberto, Gilberto, Giusberto, ecc…) is also the founder of the cultural association a/simmetrie, and a passionate baroque music player.

The drawing related to this post was inspired by vintage engravings, and has several different references. Can you spot them?

Paolo Caccia Dominioni

Paolo Caccia Dominioni
A noble spirit with multifaceted ingenuity.

The drawing above is my tribute to the great Italian soldier, writer, artist, architect and engineer Paolo Caccia Dominioni. As a soldier, he experienced both World War I and World War II, beside the Libyan Campaign and the War in Ethiopia. Initially along with the Axis forces, he later joined the resistance, during which he was even captured by the Nazi Germany secret police known as Gestapo.
His historical witness is important not only for his extensive experience, involvement, and knowledge in many different fields, but also as a writer and fine artist: beside many other things, his production of a vast amount of drawings, sketches, and illustrations, is a legacy of immeasurable value. Several artworks of his were made directly on the field, or from personal memories, and give us an impactful glimpse of life during war.
Paolo Caccia Dominioni came from a generation of architects who knew how to draw. A generation who lead to the birth of Italian design, and who also inspired a great number of cartoonists and illustrators for many years.
Due to the status of his noble family, he lived his adolescence following his diplomatic father around Europe and North Africa. This situation gave him an eclectic cultural background that was as well related to the old-fashioned chivalrous view of life, which blended braveness, education, and good manners. He had a creative vision of the world, sided by a fair and sporting spirit in the fight.

In 1942 he was assigned to the Military Intelligence Service (Servizio Informazioni Militare). Unsatisfied with this rear line task, he managed to be transferred to the newly created division of the Alpine Combat Engineers, also known as Sappers (Guastatori del Genio Alpino). In July 1942 he was entrusted with the command of the 31st Sappers Battalion of Africa (31º Battaglione Guastatori d’Africa del Genio), used throughout the North African campaign. During the Second Battle of El Alamein, they took part as reinforcement of the 185th Airborne Division “Folgore” (185ª Divisione paracadutisti “Folgore”). His battalion was the only surviving organic department of the X Italian Army Corps (X Corpo d’armata italiano). For this reason, major Paolo Caccia Dominioni of Sillavengo was decorated with the Silver Medal for military valor.
Of the 5,000 battalion soldiers, only 304 returned. The deeds of the 31st Battalion became legendary. Their spirit of abnegation is unparalleled in contemporary history, and their courage has been universally recognized. A quote from German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel says: «The German soldier has astonished the world; the Italian Bersagliere has astonished the German soldier». According to some historians, «the British special forces were so impressed by the methods and tactics of the Italian desert corps that they actually copied them». Winston Churchill said in a speech to the House of Commons a month after El Alamein: «We must honour the men that were the Lions of the Folgore».

Due to the Badoglio Proclamation on 8 September 1943, Paolo Caccia Dominioni joined the Resistance inside the 106th partisan brigade Garibaldi.
After the war he devoted his life retrieving, identifying, and burying the corpses and remains of the soldiers, of all sides, who lost their life in the Alamein battlefield, for which he designed a memorial named Quota 33.
He tried to name them all: behind each of those names there was a man with his story. They were not just numbers. As far as possible, he honored his men on his books, with his memories, his stories and his drawings. He even personally wrote letters to the families of the victims, sometimes even attaching a few tufts of grass and some sand collected near the burials in the desert.

A memorial plaque that he designed for the monumental memorial of Quota 33 at El Alamein reads: «Mancò la fortuna, non il valore» («Fortune had lacked, not the valor»).
As an architect, he understood the profound meaning behind a monumental cemetery.
Architecture arises from the dialogue between life and death, as something built for eternity. In particular, the monument is the place through which we continue to identify our history, our identity. It forces us to remember. Its etymology derives from the memento, an object that obliges us to remember, something that is kept as a reminder.

This artwork was inspired by Paolo Caccia Dominioni’s drawings related to the epic battle of El Alamain. You will find traces of his style, as well as his handwriting and calligraphy. There are also some references to the vintage typography of his books, like the one he published in 1931, Basta Con Questa Guerra (something like Stop This War or Enough Of This War).
I dedicate this illustration to his memory. A small tribute to a great soul.

A Portrait Of Education In Italy

Minestra Del Istruzzione
Just another politically incorrect drawing.

Here goes a portrait of the current Italian Minister of Education Valeria Fedeli. Due to her role, you might think she has some kind of university degree. She doesn’t. It seems that she doesn’t even have a high school diploma. But the real problem is another: she lied about it on her personal website biography. As if all this wasn’t sad enough, there is also a surreal twist. She is one of the main exponents of the war against fake news! Months ago she started touring schools to promote the project #BastaBufale (#StopHoaxes), aimed against disinformation. Can you believe it?

«Students should not be passive consumers of technology, but become aware producers of information and knowledge. The school must teach them to grow these skills».

Typewriting A Tribute To Dmitri Prigov

Modern Systems
Characters on paper and modern systems.

I will like to salute this 2017 with an minimalist illustration from Sir Joe Works’ archives: a typewritten portrait of artist, poet, and performer Dmitri Aleksandrovich Prigov (Russian: Дми́трий Алекса́ндрович При́гов). As a conceptual artist and dissident during the Soviet Union Era, he became one of he main figures of Moscow Conceptualism.

The image above triggered a series of black and white artworks created with typewriters and old-style xeroxed collages. You will have a glimpse of this stuff here on sirjoeworks.com in the upcoming year 2018!

Mixed Media Collage: A Portrait Of David Bowie

David Bowie Portrait Collage
The Ziggy Stardust tribute poster.

This illustration portraits Mr. David Jones (a.k.a. David Bowie) at the time he was performing as Ziggy Stardust. The poster design was created as a collage of many different pieces of vintage paper from old newspapers and magazines with articles about Bowie. Some nice textures and decorations were found on books and all sorts of collectible ephemera as well.
David Bowie once stated: «I’m a collector. I always just seemed to collect personalities, and ideas. I have a hotchpotch philosophy which is very minimal». He used this archive of ideas and personalities as a toolbox to create characters and alter egos to play on stage: «I was a character when I performed all those albums, and I carried the character into interviews, newspapers, on stage, off stage – whenever there was media around I had to keep those characters concrete. The fabric of my work is using my body, my personality as well as my songs and stage performance, rather than a canvas».

The character of Ziggy Stardust is a perfect example of such holistic creational process. It was designed as a collage of various elements from Bowie’s cultural palette, mixing together his collected items: Iggy Pop and The Stooges, Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground, The Legendary Stardust Cowboy, model Twiggy (which later appeared on the cover of David Bowie’s Pin Ups), and many more. The idea for the title (and maybe for the name of his band too) of his concept album The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars probably came from an LP recorded by The Rats, former group of Mick Ronson, Trevor Bolder, Mick “Woody” Woodmansey, and John Cambridge (who will all later play with Bowie). The Rats recorded The Rise And Fall Of Bernie Gripplestone And The Rats From Hull in 1967. It was written by John Cambridge: «I had just been to see the film How I Won The War which featured John Lennon and I based the name of Bernie Gripplestone on musketeer Bernard Gripweed – the character played by John Lennon». John Cambridge was the drummer who joined stage with Bowie, Tony Visconti, Mick Ronson, as The Hype, for the Atomic Sunrise festival held at the Roundhouse on Wednesday 11 March 1970. It’s believed that Glam Rock was invented that night. Even Marc Bolan (T-Rex) was there, glued to the front of the stage and probably inspired by the show. Tony Visconty has been pretty clear about that event: «For me this will always be the very first night of Glam Rock. I didn’t know it at the time, but when we saw photos taken of us by Ray Stevenson , Marc Bolan was visible resting his head on his arms on the edge of the stage, taking it all in, Bolan never admitted he even went to the gig!».

But the main inspiration for Ziggy Stardust was certainly rock ‘n’ roll dark legend Vince Taylor, a wild stage animal that, by mid 60s, was already on the downside path of his musical career as an acid casualty. It was around this time that Bowie met Taylor (who had took his name “Vince” from Elvis Presley’s character “Vince Everett” in Jailhouse Rock and “Taylor” from actor Robert Taylor, even though other accounts say he got the name from the Latin phrase In Hoc Signo Vinces on Pall Mall cigarette pack) at the La Gioconda club in London. David Bowie recalls Vince Taylor telling him he was a god or an alien or probably a bit of both. Some of the features of This fading rock ‘n’ roll star who went crazy under a diet of amphetamines and LSD, claiming to be an alien god, were later injected inside Ziggy Stardust, who was going to be, indeed, another rock star messiah.
Ziggy and Vince had many things in common, starting with the make-up (and ending with self-destruction). You can picture Bowie thinking about the rise and fall of Vince Taylor, a leather messiah who ended up in a rock ‘n’ roll suicide. A composite rocker who quickly blended into his alter ego, melting in his own confusion.
There is an interview where Vince Taylor (whose real name was Brian Maurice Holden) says: «I’m a normal person. On the stage… My stage is an act». Just like Bowie and Ziggy. But sometimes boundaries between fictional and real can dangerously blur together. As Bowie once said: «I don’t know if I’m writing the characters or the characters are writing me».
Curiously, the name Ziggy came from a London tailor’s shop, called “Ziggy’s”, that Bowie saw from a train one day.

The collection of different pieces that Bowie used to create his own artwork was the inspiration for this mixed media illustration, a portrait made of paper clippings. Recycling old elements in something new, something with a different cut is also related to the cut-up technique. A technique that David Bowie used to write some of his songs, something he had borrowed from William S. Burroughs and Brion Gysin. But I will leave this for a new post!

Check out my other illustrations and posters dedicated to Bowie:

Vintage Nautical Illustration: Old Ship

Santa Caterina Old Sailing Ship Engraving
Seafaring Graphic Design.

The above illustration it’s one of the traditional themes for sailors and ocean lovers: a wooden sailing ship riding some waves and framed by a worn out rope. As all the old-fashioned maritime-related artworks, its graphic design style resembles the one of vintage prints and engravings. There is also a minimal touch of modernity in the lines that reminds the fresh inking of comic strip artists. The handwritten calligraphic text reads Santa Caterina (Saint Catherine), a name often used for boats and tall ships. On demand, this picture comes with different lettering styles and text. The customization makes this illustration very versatile so it can be used in a wide range of “naval” situations; for example as a signboard for a pub or a tavern, or for custom linens, sheets, and towels inside your sailing vessel! The drawing was originally part of a series of sketches for a logo design that will be posted soon.

If you are looking for nautical art, be sure to check sirjoeworks.com for more stuff, such as posters, prints, drawings, and collectible ephemera. Feel free to ask which images are available for purchase or for any other kind of custom design.

Cubist Heart Sketch

Box-Shaped Heart Sketch
Digging in Sir Joe Works’ picture archives.

I’ve recently come across this illustration I made years ago, a sketch created with some custom brushes for a project related to Saint Valentine’s Day. It was inspired by Cubism and by Kurt Cobain’s lyrics.There’s a song by Nirvana that’s titled Heart-Shaped Box. This concept artwork could be titled Box-Shaped Heart. A hollow muscular organ that can be filled with love, which notoriously comes in many different forms. The contrast between a canonical representation of the cardiac organ and the one portrayed here, along with the limited color palette and the background texture, makes the drawing visually interesting and appealing. But if you are a romantic gourmet, and looking for something more tasty, check out the picture for food lovers inside the post Heart-Shaped Chocolate Cake!

Vintage Beauty On Old Paper

Vintage Beauty On Old Paper
The ancient Egyptian esoteric feeling in a poster.

Here goes another image from Sir Joe Works’ archives based on the “Vintage Crossover” philosophy: it’s a mysterious exotic woman portrayed on old paper decorated with some geometric patterns (which look visually catching on grungy textured backgrounds). This illustration was created as a preliminary test for a series of printables: stay tuned for my upcoming collection of art prints!