(This is the third part of the interview Dario Maggiore had with Riccardo Bucchioni. Go read the first and second part. - All images by Riccardo Bucchioni)
In the new world of independent art there are several names standing out (for example Mark Ryden, Jeff Soto, and Jeremy Fish). I know that in particular you are a fan of Tara McPherson's work. Apart from her, who do you think is really worth keeping an eye on? And most of all, whom would you like to start working with?
All those you mentioned are absolute geniuses! I love Tara a lot, and not only because she's really good, but also because she was the artist through whom I got to know a world that was unknown to me before. I am indebted to her for my passion for designer toys and also for other artists I discovered after her. I love the cleanliness of her stroke, which doesn't leave out the detail, and also the fact that her works are often infused with serenity and pain or loneliness at the same time.
Among the others I like Frank Kozik a lot (he's a true genius), Tim Biskup, Amanda Visell, Lory Earley, Ray Caesar, Eric Scarerow, Gary Baseman, Kathie Olivas and her husband Brandt Peters, Shepard Fairey, Banksy, Fred Lammers (whom I discovered through Andrea from Manges) and others too many to list. In Italy I really like the works by El Gato Chimney and Orticanoodles' stencils (I'd also put Dario Maggiore in, but then somebody would accuse me of nepotism since he's interviewing me!). I'd work anytime with all of the above. But Tara...
La Spezia. A rather small town, but full of skilled people. Between musicians and artists there are quite a bunch of names coming out of there. Music-wise we have Italian punk rock heroes the Manges and the Peawees, for example. What's your relationship with your neighbors?
If by neighbors you mean Manges and Peawees I'd say the relationship is perfect. Some of them I've known for ages: with Richie from the Manges we were good friends since we were little kids, plus Hervé and I attended the same secondary school and lived in the same neighborhood. I also worked with both bands as a graphic designer. For years I've been the poster guy at Manges concerts - they got me into punk rock! - I always got on stage before the last song. I also run the Shake Club with Hervé for six years. If by neighbors you mean the average La Spezia citizen, I have a far colder relationship with them... a polite indifference, so to speak. I don't like hip discos and they definitely don't care about the monsters I draw! There is an underground milieu I hang out with, even though I don't really have a big social life. In terms of talented people that were born here I think a mention of Gianluca Lerici (a.k.a Prof. Bad Trip) is due. Unluckily he only got the recognition he deserved from part of his city after he left us.
Apart from La Spezia, there are many artists in Italy living in small towns. Most of them stay here trying to find a job, which is often very hard, others instead leave the country like traditional Italian migrants. They are looking for more luck or visibility in their field, so they go to San Francisco or New York, or stay a little closer and settle down in London. For example Simone Legno (a.k.a. Toki Doki) went to Los Angeles to promote his brand. Do you think it's important to stay in your territory or do you think you should have left too?
You're striking a nerve here! Because of my father's job my family had the chance to move to the States – in Savannah, Georgia – when I was about 13 years old. My mother didn't feel like undergoing such a dramatic life change, so eventually we stayed. Since I'm a fan of many typically American things I never really got over that and I often wonder what it would have been like. A few years ago I tried saving up some money to go to L.A. for a couple of months, if only to see what the vibe was. In the end I wasn't able to that time either... I think Simone Legno did the right thing and the success he's having proves it. I think I read in an interview he gave that “that day I received the e-mail that would have changed my life.” I would definitely leave the next day if I had a chance like that. In the U.S. or in Japan there is another mentality, another approach towards this kind of things. Being very big countries they have bigger markets, and if there only 100 toy collectors in Italy, in the U.S. You have 2000. But I admit “making it” in La Spezia would probably give me much more satisfaction.
Speaking of designer toys, you made some. The famous Munny & Co. by KidRobot and the other Toy2R collections. In the last three or four years toy-collecting has arrived to Italy too. Despite their small size – sometimes even minuscule – those toys are rather expensive. Maybe the collector doesn't mind too much, but people that don't know what that is might just walk away when they see the price tag. How much do you think those products can appeal to a broader market? Is it just a temporary fad or a potentially evoliving phenomenon?
I grant you even collectors mind the price sometimes! Unluckily you have to be selective, we're not speaking of rich people here. Prices are actually a bit high sometimes, but in the case of custom toys or limited editions I think it's fair. You are buying an object of value that you can't get anywhere. Serial productions often have more affordable prices, especially considering they are still limited. I think there is a market opening up in Italy, but more in the underground rather than on a broad scale. I don't think the prices or an inefficient promotion are to blame. Shops like Atom Plastic do an excellent import job and they are always updated with the latest products coming from the U.S. They also organize theme parties to launch new toys and they manage to keep the prices the same as overseas. I think the problem is rather the average consumer. The toy phenomenon draws in a certain range of people who are normally attracted by certain subcultures – like street art, poster art, pop surrealism, and so on – and are willing to spend some of their savings on an artist's piece or a book about their passion. The average buyer instead thinks more in terms of “why should I buy one less drink at a cool club to get me a plastic bunny?” And unluckily I think that if they showed those toys in any big TV show, like the Big Brother, sales would sky-rocket the next day – something I hope will never happen. Like it or not, that's the way people think in Italy... Of course it's just a personal opinion, but I've been looked at like a crazy man for buying a 50-euro toy myself, by people who spend 50 euros for signature underwear.
What's your favorite playlist when you are drawing? What do you listen to? What kinf of mood or atmosphere makes you feel the best, pencils in hand?
I know it may sound weird, but I often like to work in silence, especially while inking. When I'm drawing instead my playlist is a mix of the things I usually listen to, mostly punk rock. If I had to list the ones that are always present I would say: Ramones, Screeching Weasel, Riverdales, Queers, Clash, Groovie Ghoulies, Alkaline Trio, Descendents, Manges, and Peawees. But I always have metal moments, with bands like Mastodon, Isis, Slayer or the classics by Black Sabbath and Metallica. I also listen to some old school rap, like Beastie Boys, Run Dmc, Public Enemy, or more “refined” stuff like Bowie or Twilight Singers.
Pizza or lasagne?
“Do you love mom or dad the most?” It's more or less the same question! I could eat pizza every day and never get tired, but lasagne... The ones my mom makes in the oven are just the best. Can't we call it a draw?