Alessandro Paglia has always been fascinated by the power and elegance of black and white, both in fine arts and in photography. After graduating he worked as a product designer for ten years.
Paglia’s pieces are made from black ink pen and cotton paper. The use of pen, unlike pencil, allows a rich, vivid texture with a vibrant touch, creating very intense blacks from which contrasts and plays of light strongly emerge. The rough surface of the paper further accentuates this effect. “The technique I use is simple yet quite laborious: I draw the subject with the pen, many pens for each illustration actually, by superimposing a layer of chaotic lines on top of another, until I get the right nuances in even the smallest details,” said Paglia.
“My process is quite simple: I choose the subject, I arrange it in a photographic studio, I shoot a few tens of photographs to get the perfect one in terms of composition, contrasts, lights and shadows. At that point, I meticulously reproduce it with technical black ink pen on rough grain paper,” he says. Each illustration can require from 50 up to 250 hours of work. “Normally I do not just reproduce an object as it is, but with simple interventions such as a special coating, a deformation, the combination with other objects I want to get a surprise, a “twist” on the story that the object recounts,” Paglia said. Time intensive, these pieces are certainly a labor of love.
Paglia’s subjects are iconic pieces of design history and pop culture objects. While we may all be familiar with each subject, we relate to it in a personal, unique way that is colored by our experiences and memories. Part of the joy of Paglia’s pieces are that we see these famed images, these famous people in entirely new, challenging contexts.