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Interview with Pauly Bonomelli

We met the Australian multimedia artist in Milan

Interview with Pauly Bonomelli We met the Australian multimedia artist in Milan

"Hi, I’m Pauly from Australia".

That's how our interview with Pauly Bonomelli, designer and multimedia artist, started.

We've had the chance to meet him in the new HQ of NOVE25, the urban jewelry brand, creative lab, retailer and innovative reality based in Milan which, during the years, characterized itself for its exclusive creations and its unique storytelling ability - based also on the collaboration with writers, visual artists and tattoo artists - and for its strong connection with street culture.

To celebrate the opening of their new space, NOVE25 will present the collection Ophis, devoted to the world of esotericism and astrology, superbly designed by Mirko Sata, member of the Milanese tattoo collective - and one of the most important Italian tattoo creative studio - Satatttvision. Following the thematic guideline of the Ophis collection, the talented Pauly Bonomelli is producing an exclusive artistic setting that will be revealed on the NOVE25's headquarter inaugural evening, on October 25.

Despite his works are widely appreciated and collected by artists like A$AP Rocky, Kanye West, Edison Chen and many others artists and actors, Pauly Bonomelli is a person extremely down to earth who knows which are the important things in life and that puts everything he has on what he creates.


#1 You don’t like public attention and you don’t like being photographed, why is the question of anonymity so important for you?

It’s not anonymity, it’s more to separate my work and my private, separate the "me" that’s for my friend and family and my work, that’s for anyone. It’s a sort of freedom not to be publicly known, not to be “recognizable”. With social media and living in a  society where oversharing is so prevalent, with people sharing everything about themselves with strangers…  I guess I’m just shy and don't have the best self-confidence.
I do use Instagram, but that’s a tool for work. If I were in a position where I couldn't have social media, I won’t have any: I never had facebook, twitter, my space. Social media is so antisocial because people don't relate to each other on a personal level, it’s all constructed and my Instagram is mostly my work and randomly some pictures of me, but, still, it's during the work.


#2 You’re a multimedia artist under different points of view but your background is strictly fashion: what first attracted you to fashion design and what does attract you know?

I'm currently not really paying much attention to fashion anymore.... I fell into fashion design by accident and worked in it for many years, I took my advanced diploma in fashion and textile arts, and worked in the industry but... fashion is changed. 

I don’t really know how to explain it but people I really admire, they have a personal style while the majority of people, they don’t have a personal style anymore, it’s more a “fitting in” and by buying the right things they want to fit in with the people they admire or their peers, and I don’t believe in that. When I was younger, at school, my friends and I dressed very different and had different interests but now, maybe I'm just older but the way I see it now, there are given formula by social media on how to be “cool” that I don't share. For me, the “cool” is the individual and not the trend.


#3 And what attracted you back then? 

Well, I’ve been doing kinda the same things since high school and through an exposure given by some public figures, this something I’ve been doing for a very long time suddenly became popular. It was personal and then it was taken by many people and copied and this is boring. It was work, a thing I was doing since… ever!
I’ve been contacted and worked for famous and public figures and, now, there are so many people following my work but not because they actually like what I’m doing but because of an “affiliation” with these people they admire. Like on Instagram, I know the majority of people that follow me, and they may be doing that because of this “affiliation” and, if this is the case, it’s sad for me and they’re wasting their do what you feel is right for you.


#4 Indeed, you’ve collaborated with a lot of celebrities for unique pieces of clothing, have you ever thought of creating something for a wider audience?

I’ve had numerous people offering me the opportunity to do that and I declined because I don’t believe in hype and trends, they come and go so quickly, and I also have little interest in mass production. Once something is mass produced it loses its special quality, at least to me. Like, drawing on jackets and T-shirt, it’s always something very significant and important and someone to just go and buy my feelings… it just seems wrong. I don’t do that and it’s nothing that has nothing to do with "ego" or things like that, it’s about my own confidence and what I put in what I do.
I do care about what I create and it has nothing to do with anonymity or exclusivity, I just don’t believe in sharing everything with people that in reality don't even care.


#5 Art and fashion are extremely bonded in your works, or at least it used to be, as much as underground cultures, how would you define this connection? 

I run out of canvases. (laughs). No, I used to do that in high school to convey some sorts of feelings and jokes to my teachers like I never went to school and I drew this shirt saying

"To whom it may concern, I was absent from school yesterday because I Think That being a truant is Hysterical,

from Pauly B ".

Working with celebrities exposed me to the mass audience and these things I did for myself became "a trend". After high school I wanted to develop printing techniques and the only way I could do it was with fashion and, as I said, I took my advance diploma and then worked in the industry until I’ve been now able to move away - also through the support of my previous work associates. Now I can focus on the pursuit of some kind of visual art rather than fashion: fashion is disposable but if you do an installation or a painting is something more long lasting, at least for me. Art and fashion have been bonded for centuries, as just as with the music scene. David Bowie, Grace Jones… art plus fashion or art plus music is anything new and there’s some fashion, some intelligent fashion, I just define as art. Particular techniques never seen before, textile innovation… intelligent fashion is almost unwearable and it is art and I'm thinking at Alexander Mc Queen, Rei Kawakubo, Iris van Herpen, Hussein Chalayan and so on. Fixing is also something crazy beautiful to me, the custom, that’s putting art on clothing but this blending is nothing new, it’s something it’s been down since the dawn of time.
Maybe I’m an old-fashioned, maybe I'm just jaded, but let’s think of Elvis or Jimi Hendrix and again David Bowie and Grace Jones: they were art.


#6 Now that you’re moving away from fashion, how would you describe your works and the references behind them, what does inspire you? 

Well, some elements of my work have been more exposed because of the people involved in it but I’ve been doing sculptures and visual arts since ever, just no one was interested in it. May it be for work or not, I’m always doing stuff, always creating, even without a purpose. My inspiration comes from life, life in general, and people around me, music definitely… I love music more than anything and I’m talking about daggy old shit music.
I was pretty alarmed yesterday, when someone commented “why you have to be so depressed” or something stupid like that, which kind of pissed me off because my work may have this some sorts of vibes but it’s a contradiction because my work means so much to me and sometimes I forget that the perception people have of me comes through it, but I’m not angry nor depressed, is just my style. People are so quick to judge and think “yeah, that’s what it’s about” while I’m just doing my thing, finding my way. I’ve been able to remain unknown and not many people really know me and they just jump to the wrong conclusions.


#7 Is there a work you’re particularly connected with?

Any photos I’ve taken of my nephews and nieces.
I can’t even describe how much I love these photos… basically, we were dressing up with what we found in the house and they were wearing clothes I’ve made. In everything I do, I always prefer the process than the final result but that photos, they represent that bonding process while having fun, and not because of what they were wearing but because of the subjects involved.
That was just a case. I wish I had that cool photos of me when I was I kid.


#8 Let’s talk about your project for the new HQ of NOVE25. How does this come into being? 

Well, Mirko (ed Mirko Sata), who is doing a collaboration with NOVE25, we became friends almost a year ago and he told me about this crazy project, this amazing jewelry collection they were creating and he proposed me to come and help him… I said of course! There are people with whom you immediately click and with Mirko, this is what happened. The inspiration comes directly from the concept behind this jewelry line which is astrology, esoterism... things he's extremely educated about.
My work for this opening is a sort of interpretation of that theme, how I understood it, my vision on those topics and that incredible jewelry. Both Mirko and the people here at NOVE25 they're so kind and it's beautiful to be able to produce something for such amazing people... I just feel really lucky to be given the opportunities that I'm give and to have the family and friends that I have. I'm just grateful for that.

I'm just grateful for that.