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POW Chats: A Conversation with Artist & tokidoki Creator, Simone Legno

selfie simone legno 2 Selfie by Simone Legno


POW chats with illustrator and tokidoki co-founder, Simone Legno, about his first POW release, "Selfie," and more. 

1. Can you talk about your first POW release, "Selfie?" What's going on in that image?

"Selfie" represents both the positive and the negative aspects of life. It chronicles the journey of life and the young girl in the front of the piece is taking a selfie to document her existence. The photo that she is taking is documenting this particular point in time in her existence. The other characters that you see are symbolic details and icons which represent different moments and feelings in life.

2. What's your connection to Japanese culture and how does your interest in it inspire your work?

I find a lot of inspiration in Japan. I love the country and the culture. From the urban streets of Shibuya to the quiet beauty of Kyoto, I have been fascinated by Japanese art and culture ever since I was a child. I frequently visit Japan for work, so it is a constant source of inspiration in my art.

selfie simone legno

3. Can you talk about where you 're from and what it was like growing up there? How did you gravitate towards and find your creative inspirations in your youth?

I grew up in Rome, which is a city that is soaked in art. As a child, I was surrounded by works created by the great Italian artists of Western Civilization. Their artistic genius definitely inspired my artistry as I was growing up. In the 80s, Italy was bombarded by Japanese pop culture, so my generation was influenced by the art and animation coming out of Japan. We were also exposed to American pop culture, so my work utilizes iconography from all of these different sources of inspiration. For example, I use iconography from my own culture in my work. So, you will see pizza and soccer - themes from my heritage in my art. Most of the characters that I have created also have Italian names.

4. So you just returned back home after a trip to Asia. Can you tell about your recent endeavors in the country?

I enjoy creating and exposing my art to broader audiences. To celebrate the Year of the Monkey, I recently held an exhibition in Shanghai that showcased a limited edition capsule collection that I designed at Lane Crawford. I also just returned from a very successful art show in Manila, where all 40 of the pieces I created sold out pre-show. The pieces included both paintings and sculpture. I would like to hold something similar in China someday.


5. What were the early stages of the tokidoki brand like? What was going on for you back then?

It all started with my online art portfolio. Today, everyone seems to have a presence online, but back then, when I created my website, having your portfolio online was a novel concept. My website became quite popular and I caught the attention of the people that would become my business partners: Pooneh Mohajer and Ivan Arnold. They convinced me to move to Los Angeles where we partnered to build tokidoki into the brand it is today.

6. What does your creative process typically entail?

My day starts very early in the morning so that I can answer business emails from Asia and Europe. I never start painting until I get through my morning emails. I need to be mentally free of business. Once business is out of the way, I feel like I can have my head a little more free. I do most of my sketching in the early hours of the morning and at night. I drink some coffee and then I get started.

Tokidoki, 2/15/11, 10:03 AM, 8C, 5666x7464 (289+358), 100%, Repro 2.2 v2, 1/30 s, R33.4, G23.8, B43.6

7. What creative projects do you have planned for the coming months that you're able to share?

This year we are opening retail stores in mainland China and Korea. We are also trying to expand our retail initiatives in South East Asia. I am very interested in painting and fine art, so I would like to hold another art show featuring my work.

8. Aside from work obligations, what personal plans and goals do you have on your mind in the coming months?

My team and I are very busy trying to develop tokidoki as a global brand and we hope to become a part of pop culture. Although my work obligations take up a lot of my time, I always strive to be a success in my personal life as well. My family means a lot to me and I want to be a successful father to my daughter. I try to maintain a healthy work-life balance so that I can look back and feel proud about both my personal and professional life.

tokidoki simone legno