The erotic art of Nicola Spano
We caught up with Nicola Spano to talk about his dramatic illustrations.
When did you discover and start to explore your passion for drawing and illustration?
I started very, very early — when I was a child in pre-school child. My sisters and I were provided the means and the freedom to express ourselves through colours and drawing, so we learnt quite soon to overcome the intimidation of the blank paper, organising our figurative space. We used to portray our pets, or funny people in our neighbourhood.
For me, more serious inspiration came during my first year at university, when I rediscovered the Magnus & Bunker comics with an adult eye — Kriminal, Satanik, and especially Alan Ford. Their works made me realise that I wanted to be creative like that.
Over time, I discovered my own creative identity and started to draw my own way. At first, it was all black and white, then curiosity for colours came along and I went through several painting techniques.
How would you describe your style of work?
Art of régime, definitely — my own régime. In general, I tend to be calligraphic and linear when ink is involved, but when I use colours or monochrome pencils I choose a more pictorial and sfumato style.
I know that nude and erotic elements are the most eye-catching features of an illustration, but the largest part of my efforts is concentrated on eyes and facial expressions. Even when they look brisk and simple, the eyes I represent are never complete until they reproduce the glance I have in my mind.
Who are some of your art heroes or inspirations?
I mentioned Magnus, because he’s like Keith Richards to me — I’d never have touched a guitar if I’d never heard Honky Tonk Women’s guitar riff, likewise I’d never have touched a brush if I hadn’t fallen in love with Alan Ford’s drawings.
Then, as other guitarists had me explore other techniques, the same happened with creativity. Praxiteles, and Antonio Canova — who are both sculptors. Then, Edvard Munch, Giorgio De Chirico, and so many other European and American artists.
Where are you drawing your inspiration from for your work?
Basically from nostalgic memories, fantasies, dreams or nightmares, puns, something I find attractive or funny — have you ever woke up laughing because of a dream? That’s how my Nuns on Speed drawing came out.
Some people detect an incontrovertible truth about my works, a truth beyond this or that subject — the silence of a beholder who watches other people living. When you can draw or paint, you can display what you want to see or what you need to exorcise. It’s exactly the same with music — if you can play, why do you have to wait for others to compose the music you’d like to listen to?
Years ago, in Paris, I took my own, private postcards, sketching the views I wanted to be mine — monuments, streets, beggars, street musicians — whatever captured my attention. The same happens with my gay images.
How can people get their hands on your work?
I did a couple of exhibitions in the early 2000s to contribute to events promoted by local gay associations. At the time, I also began working with Californian Athletic Model Guild — the publisher of Physique Pictorial — but for several reasons, it drifted away.
I’ve tried to share my works on DeviantArt, but it seems that I’m too deviant for them and almost twenty works of mine got banned, therefore I decided to quit — I can’t deal with people who say that they accept ‘mature’ content then censor you for submitting mature content.
I’m happier and more active on Twitter, which allows me to share my works just the way they are, and on Instagram.
What are some of your goals and aspirations for the months ahead?
I share my works for free on social media, and nobody has to pay for viewing them. I don’t feel like changing this, but I would really like to find a serious publisher and release an art book — taking my images to bookshops just the way they are.
I’m quite aware that not many people would actually get single prints of mine and hang them on their living room wall, but I think a book of my work would be a good addition to bookshelves or under the bed of some of those young guys who live in repressive families and send me their thanks in private — they take a breath of freedom with my creativity.