Your work is fun, bright and graphic but not at all intimidating, as some contemporary work can be. What inspires your graphic paintings and choice of color?
I am happy to hear that! The inspiration for the colors in my painting comes from my love for primary colors and what they mean to me. I’ve been obsessively playing with paint and colouring pencils since I was a kid, so these colors to me are what makes everything possible, they are that magic formula, the beginning of everything. Using them makes genuinely happy inside.
The shapes are something that comes almost automatic to me when I work on the composition, it’s as if it’s an inner language. Every line is almost a language that somehow know really well. That's why I call my artworks Masi Patterns. Maybe I should stop before I go too deep.
Did you always want to create art? What drew you to art?
My background is actually in design. I’ve studied and been a designer for almost 10 years now. While working as a graphic designer I’ve always struggled with compromising my visual style for certain clients and projects requirements. I always felt like I was repressing my self a bit. Don’t get me wrong, I love my design career so far. I got the chance to work for amazing companies like Frog and IDEO with the best possible people and culture. At IDEO especially they always pushed me to embrace my bold style and celebrated my identity as a strength, not a weakness.
But 2016 was the year that I decided to start focusing on my visual language and exploit it full time, take it seriously.
So I think that’s what drew me to art, the need of getting my visual universe out, expand it, scale it. I’m still practicing design, by the way, mainly doing brand identity work. I really love doing that, because it’s really personal, you can take your clients to a real journey of visual discovery.
As an artist myself, I found that it took me some time to find my "voice" in art; it's still evolving and it's entering a new age in my life. I always recognize your work when I see it; how did you find your "voice" in art?
I think I found that I had a voice when I started experiencing the reactions of people to my art. It was amazing to see and to hear those feelings and emotions. When I kept hearing things like ‘Your work makes me happy, makes me feel alive’.That’s when I realised that my art had actually an impact and I guess that’s where I found ‘my voice’. I know my duty as an artist is to be myself, keep being real and true to my soul, because that’s when it means something to me and to people.
What does your process look like? Do you begin with shape and color or an idea first?
My artwork usually starts from a small scale drawing. The shapes and the colors usually pop in my head in the most random moments and situations. I wish I could ‘plan art’ but it’s a really wild process. That’s why always carry some paper and my favorite Italian colouring pencils Giotto in case the image forms in my head. I use those colouring pencils since I was a kid so I guess that’s what makes my work kinda happy.
Touching on your background in graphic design, what makes for a successful design in your opinion?
I think a successful design is when it is genuine, relevant and doesn’t follow trends. I worked for almost 4 years in the UI/UX field, and it’s really rare to find and to work on something visually different. A lot of clients are generally scared to stand out because there is often the perception that good design needs to be clean and minimal. I think it’s time to be less boring and more real. In my recent brand identity works I try to be as real and genuine as possible, and so far it’s working out great! Brand identity work is that sweet spot for me, where I apply my style and make it into a system.
There are so many influential, female forces in art. How do you feel women influence art today?
I think women have always influenced art in powerful ways because they are able to naturally express their voices across multiple media. I think what’s happening in the world now as scary and ugly as it is it’s creating such bold and beautiful reactions from amazing women like Solange for example. I love how her work cross-pollinates everything, music, art, and performance all at once. It’s no surprise that the Tate Modern in London featured her.
If you could go back in time and speak to a 7-year-old Masi, what would you tell her? What advice about art would you give her?
First of all that is my ultimate wish. Meeting my 7-year-old self. I was pretty cool. I would definitely tell her that it’s ok to be unique, to be an old soul and that it’s not weird k to ask for expensive Swiss colouring pencils for Christmas. I would probably also tell her to stop stealing things from office supply stores.
Define what art means to you:
Art to me is therapy. It’s that place where you are never judged and you don’t have to judge. It's the ultimate freedom from yourself and your fears.
You can follow Enrica on Ello, Twitter, and Instagram.