By Giulia Piceni. Images courtesy of Montserrat Salvat.
I’MF: How was your journey with illustrations? Has it always been your dream to become a full-time artist and illustrator?
MS: Perhaps it was an unconscious feeling that I always had inside. Drawing was my outlet; it was a way to express my hidden feelings until I decided to share them. I quit my job in finance and turned my passion into my life.
I’MF: How would you describe your time at Istituto Marangoni Firenze?
MS: It was an extraordinary experience. The high potential of its environment leads you to a perfect atmosphere where creativity is the only way. I feel so grateful to the staff, the colleagues and my tutor Domenico Strecapede who encouraged us to uncover the best in our technique.
I’MF: Which are your favourite mediums so far? Are you currently experimenting with something new?
MS: Watercolor, Bic pen and ink on paper, from my point of view, are the easiest way to express concepts without wondering. I also use ceramics, which gets me closer to the Earth. Transforming this material into jewellery pieces and illustrated plates helps me preserve the harmony and ethics entrenched in my roots.
I’MF: You mentioned using a lot of ink in your works. Calligraphy is critical in your practice when it’s about reimagining a logo or completing an illustration with words. How would you describe your relationship to writing and drawing?
MS: It is part of my art. I complement my drawings with words that function as a detail, personalisation, or just an addition to what I want to communicate. I love writing what my inner energy feels and featuring it in sentences that sometimes are unfinished or unconnected: to me, it feels like poetry. They are a firm expression of my soul. In any case, I hide my signature in the stroke without clearly writing the name or logo.
I’MF: What are the artists and brands you look up to the most to seek inspiration?
MS: Picasso, Dali, Goya, Dorothea Tanning, Egon Schiele. Talented designers and brands such as JW Anderson, Maria Gracia Chiuri for Dior, Alexander Wang, Burberry by Riccardo Tisci, Kim Jones for Fendi, and Delfina Delettrez. All of them and more.
I’MF: You’ve worked with very well-known fashion brands. What were the challenges you had to overcome to complete these successful collaborations?
MS: Basically, self-confidence. That’s one I’ve learned through experience: ensuring that your work is worthwhile and improves the final result. Illustrators are always seeking to please customers, which is understandable. Still, people should try and feel more comfortable showing and sharing their hard work and experimenting with new techniques for each project.
I’MF: Among the prestigious fashion Houses you’ve worked with, Valentino is surely one of the hottest brands. How would you describe this experience?
MS: It was a project for the presentation of Valentino’s new Born in Roma perfume in Barcelona. Apart from being the essence of one of the cities I love the most, my job was to capture the most beautiful desire clients had in mind on cards and recreate them as I liked: they were mostly flowers, shoes, tops and glasses. It was about connecting the customer with the brand’s essence, seeking a special way of making this encounter happen.
I’MF: Even if you’re mainly working in the fashion industry, are you interested in bringing your expertise to other fields?
MS: Of course, I constantly think about it. I’m mostly dreaming about ceramics, decorations and accessories that bring up your spirits once you get them. I’m also working with music, creating jingles covers and even organising short talks and workshops about fashion and illustration.
I’MF: Can you tell us about the recent projects you are most excited about?
A project about Elsa Peretti will be presented in Miami during Art Basel this year and hosted at Istituto Marangoni Miami in a VIP event. The Halston and Elsa Peretti Foundation organise this exhibition. I consider Elsa Peretti one of this century’s most talented and perhaps unique personalities: emblematic, ahead of her time and a tenacious lover of beauty.
Montserrat Salvat is an Alumna from Istituto Marangoni Firenze. She attended a Fashion Design intensive course in 2020.
Giulia Piceni is a student in Arts Curating at Istituto Marangoni Firenze.