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Nando Casinelli is a creative designer and artist from Connecticut with Bipolar II. He's also an animal rights advocate, brother and loyal friend. He's 31 years old.
After he submitted his blog post to mindyourmind, "Don't give up on someone who's bipolar", we checked out his website and were delighted to find his artwork! It’s the type of art that has images overlapping on top of images, mixing different mediums, places, people and times together. It made us want to know more, about what the artist was feeling and trying to convey. We wanted to know more about their meanings, and so we asked him if he'd let us interview him. He said yes.
When did you start creating art?
When I think of the word art, for me it means all genres: music, sound mixing, writing, photography, fashion etc. I started off writing when I was 19. I came to a point where I realized I wasn’t the writer I had hoped to be. When I started working as a creative designer/marketer for the company I work for now, I was engrained heavily in creative design programs and that’s when I started making the art you see in my portfolio, since it’s all done digitally. I believe I’m a better artist than a writer and it comes naturally to me, when sometimes writing is forced.
How does being an artist help you to express yourself? Does it help you to process emotions?
My art defines me, so it’s my natural process of expression. It tells of the person I am, and although you probably couldn’t dissect that by just looking at my art, it might make you think, “who is this weirdo?” or “this guy is creatively talented.” Things like that would certainly define me. I wouldn’t say it helps me process my emotions, but it’s all about emotion. That’s how art gets made. That’s how creativity is born - the movement of the psyche by emotion. Usually negative emotions for me.
What types of materials and mediums do you use in your artwork?
All my art is done digitally through a digital painting process, where I incorporate lo-res photos of photos, drawings, advertisements, movie stills; anything that comes to mind to complete the piece.
What is your favourite art piece (of your own art)?
I’m going to say ‘dear poughkeepsie twelve’ is my favourite piece. I needed to make a visual written thesis for my masters program last year and that was one of the pages from it. It got the creative wheels turning for me and never looked back.
What is your favourite art piece by someone else?
Like I mentioned above, art to me is defined in so many mediums and really, the most influential art piece to me is a record titled “Beautiful Midnight” by one of my idols – who is actually Canadian and bipolar – Matthew Good.
Do you have a favorite artist?
This one would harbour on the question above. Matthew Good, who has released over ten albums and has also written two books and makes art, is my favourite artist. A couple others would be my idols Morrissey (singer of The Smiths) and Dorothy Parker (poet and writer from the 1920’s).
What is the art process like for you?
The art process for me is different every time. Sometimes a theme pops into my head. Other times I see an image that gets me to create. Some of my pieces match in theme, causing a string of ideas to run with. Sometimes I’ll listen to a song or read something that gets me in tunnel vision, causing me to see the creation while everything else falls by the wayside. Usually an influx of negative emotions or events causes the need for me to express.
What inspires your artwork?
Things like music and my favourite passages from my favourite books will inspire me. Mostly an emotion that I’m feeling – overwhelming sadness, pain, defeat, anxiety – will inspire me. I see my art as on the sad, dark side and it’s a way that I exert those negative emotions into something creative. Less destructive than having the negative emotion take me over. It’s more or less my personal losses that inspire me.
What are some of the subjects or themes that your artwork is about?
I have an emotional connection to the 1920’s and a lot of my work incorporates a lot of images and themes from that era in American culture; the roaring twenties, carelessness, debauchery, and rich elitism: something I want to be a part of so terribly but also deeply despise. Therefore my fascination. There’s an underlined theme throughout all my work that involves women, as most of my pieces have women in them, but I’m unsure of what it is. It seems to be something layered in my subconscious. The loss of the women that I love in my life could be it – a way to connect back with them.
Is your artwork of a personal nature only, or do you try to convey messages with your artwork for society at large? Is there a message in your art for other people?
I have made pieces that were specifically made with messages for certain people, ‘begging for restitution’ for example. I don’t know if the messages are conveyed to that person cause I’ll never know if they ever saw the piece of art. But there’s always that hope that they will. As far as societal messages goes, a lot of my pieces show the decay of American culture; ‘the American dream,’ ‘never mind your promises’, and the entire ‘Save the King’ pieces, for example. ‘Save the King’ is actually a set of pieces devoted to saving homeless dogs and encouraging adoption of dogs over buying puppy mill store dogs. Thousands of dogs are put down everyday and people don’t realize that buying dogs and also not neutering and spaying your dogs has a negative impact on these poor animals lives. I also donate 20% of proceeds from all sales of my art to a local shelter I work hand-in-hand with – Bully Breed Rescue. That part of American culture - the ignorance of animal rights – truly disgusts me.
Photos courtesy of Nando Casinelli