Some know Rubens Cantuni as a seemingly mild-mannered art director and web designer in Genoa. Others follow his blog posts at Koikoikoi. We happen to appreciate his talents as an artist and adore his girls with glasses, a few extra pounds and a whole lot of attitude. Bring on the sassy things …
You are someone I think of as a multidisciplinary artist, what with your talents in illustration, graphic design and tattoo artistry. Would you agree? How do you describe your artistic practices?
Well, yes. I have to say that in my everyday job, I’m definitelly more into serious stuff like art direction and web design. All the other things I do, and people know of (yes, because the things I do in my daylight hours are not exposed anywhere, or at least I’m not identifiable as the author), are more for fun, although also for some serious clients such as Nike.
I’m mainly into illustration, but not the “traditional” editorial illustration. I think in recent years a new “movement” of illustrators has come to life, a group of versatile artists working in different fields, from t-shirt design to vinyl toys and other cool things. This world is far away from the old classic concept of “illustration” which was almost exclusively related to editorial projects or poster design, thanks to new media, new supports and printing techniques.
As you mentioned, I’m also into tattoo art, but mainly as an inspiration and as a decorative element of my characters. I have also made some timid steps into downright tattooing practice, but mostly as a personal experience I wanted to try. It requires really hard work and training to master; I just doodled a couple of friends and myself. It is certainly a great experience, both getting tattooed and to ink someone else. It’s something deeply connected to our most ancestral behaviours, the maximum convergence between our body and art.
As an artist, one of the most satisfying experiences I have is having people getting my art tattoed on them. I guess anyone out there, artist or not, can imagine how cool is to see someone loving so much the things you do to decide of getting them inked in their skin for the rest of their life.
So how did Tokyo Candies, your website, come about? Who are all these cheerful and delightfully chubby young ladies that are involved in all sorts of antics? They look like they are having so much fun.
In my work, especially in personal projects, I try to include my passions and interests. Why chubby girls? This is a question I’ve been asked pretty often. No, I’m not into BBW (actually I always had skinny girlfriends :D), it’s more a matter of shapes. I’m more comfortable with those kind of shapes, round lines, curvy figures, I just go along with my natural inclination in drawing. Nevertheless, chubby girls are something different from what other artists come out with. There are a lot of people out there drawing girls, but not so many drawing them like me. It helps me to stand out from the crowd.
How does the Tokyo influence fit in?
I decided on that name after my first trip to Tokyo. Since I’m very influenced by Japanese imagery, both traditional and modern, and I loved Tokyo, its atmosphere, its colored lights, but also its double soul, tradition and modernity at the same time, I thought it was the correct name, as an homage to the city.
Well, these girls are certainly eye candy. I also love that they sometimes wear glasses, that their eyesight might not be perfect.They are more human that way.
What have you been using these images for? Do the girls’ wardrobe choices limit their opportunities?
The ladies appeared on some t-shirt designs and on exhibition pieces (besides, as mentioned, tattoos). Yes, probably true, their nudist habits had sometimes limited their opportunities, and that’s why sometimes originally naked pieces have been “censored” with clothes. It’s strange that in the past naked women appeared in an uncountable number of artworks, during times where the morality was way more strict, and today it is sometimes a problem showing a “cartoonish” funny, cute, chubby chick’s breast.
That is such a perfect way of puting it! So sensible!
Actually, it hasn’t been that big problem to me. You want clothes on? Ok, never mind. And honestly in a couple of occasions it got better ð
What’s next for the Tokyo Candies and Rubens Cantuni?
About my future releases, there are 3 new designs I did for Nike coming in the next months. A couple of collaboration with other artists, as personal projects and a feature in a book about Adobe Illustrator. But probably the biggest news will concern my own life, but this is another story ð
Rubens, one last question … If I were to get a tattoo, which Tokyo Candy would you recommend for me?
The one that make you wish you were the one who made it, probably.
Urban Attitude, of course!