NemO’S is a street artist based in Italy. He works across multiple mediums, including illustration, digital design, spray paint and old newspaper pasted to walls. It is the latter approach that really got us interested in his work. His ongoing Before and After project sees him creating layered pieces, with recycled paper peeling away with […]

NemO’S is a street artist based in Italy. He works across multiple mediums, including illustration, digital design, spray paint and old newspaper pasted to walls. It is the latter approach that really got us interested in his work. His ongoing Before and After project sees him creating layered pieces, with recycled paper peeling away with the passage of time to reveal a new piece underneath – a fascinating exploration of the fleeting nature of street art.

What made you start creating art and what brought you to where you are today?

I started drawing when, as a child, my father took me to an illustrator’s exhibition in my town’s library. Something happened inside me and once back home I immediately started drawing. Since then, I’ve never stopped.

I’ve always tried to express my feelings and ideas through art with the aim of conveying them to the people looking at my pieces. My hard work, the endless research and probably my hard-to-please attitude, brought me to be who I am and to what I draw today. I keep drawing to escape everyday fears and concerns, creating a kind of parallel dimension, thinking of the world as it is in my imagination and not as it really is.

What is your working process when starting a new piece?

Each drawing comes from the need to represent and communicate a feeling, an idea, a concept I would like to describe or more specifically translate into images. I usually list the words that come to my mind, like a kind of brainstorming. Then I start sketching the character and the final piece, using the words I find the most efficient. Once I find the character, the next step is to sketch out shapes and colours to represent as best as I can the message I want to communicate.

With your pseudonym and photos of you with your face covered, you seem to want to conceal your identity. Why is this important to you?

When I started with street art I had to find a tag that identified me. I decided that name would be Nemo, like the captain from [Jules Verne’s] Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea, who fought battles against the injustices in the world and the silence of the sea. Nemo like the latin word for ‘no-one’.

I have always liked the idea of calling myself by a name that means ‘no one’. I added the ‘s’ because it refers to my art, so the translation goes from ‘no-one’ to ‘no-one’s’. I like the idea of hiding my face because I would like people to identify me through my drawings and characters, because I am what I paint.

What appeals to you about working with recycled newspaper?

I felt the need to experiment with new techniques and new ways to colour and characterise my drawings. I started to think that the identity of a drawing also lies in its realisation. After using traditional techniques I focused on recycled paper, colour and textures.

This material really fascinates me because it adds mystery and gives life to my drawings, thanks to the shapes and textures of recycled paper that bears the scars of its previous life. Before and After is a project born in 2011 from the union between mural and paper painting. It has always been my belief that street art involves the creation of a drawing but also the interaction of people who come into contact with it. This way of painting allows me to keep alive and changeable a drawing that would otherwise be static. The flow of time – which makes paper fall and the passersby tear the paper off – brings my drawings to life. The process is always unpredictable as it is connected to time and people and to their random but inevitable actions.

What are you working on at the moment? 

I’m focusing on and sketching new Before and After pieces with the multi-layer technique. I’m always looking for walls for my drawings.

NemO’S

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Sam Walby.