Updated: Apr 20, 2020
Clean, simple and bold imagery brought off of the surface by a limited color palette with a lot of pop is what drew me to the work of Gina Scamuffa. Another art market find, shouts PHILA MRKT, I first noticed Scamuffa’s colors from across the room. The imagery was pushed so far off of the page by the contrast between heavy black and soft pink that before I could even make out the image I had a vested interest. Once I got into the imagery I was not disappointed either, Scamuffa takes a dive into the human form in a variety of manners but almost always in a way that pushes us to disregard what society marks as flaws and accept that our bodies are beautiful. Powerful, fun, and even whimsical (a descriptor I used in a question that I liked so much for her work, I’m using it here too) Scamuffa’s work uses powerful symbolism to break our understanding of reality and show that no matter what there is beauty within what we see.
The imagery in Scamuffa’s work and the reflection of bodies is heavily rooted in the concept of mental health and how so often mental illness can skew how we see ourselves. Scamuffa gave great insight as to why this is a recurring theme in her work and what it means to her. She’s got some awesome work and gave a really great look into some of the deeper meanings behind it. Enjoy!
1. I always like to open by asking about background, so what got you started in art? Any schooling? Big inspirations? What helped shape you into the artist that you are today?
Art has always been a big part of my life. It’s something that I truly enjoy, and has definitely become an outlet for a lot of the inner workings of my brain. I studied art at Rowan University, and ended up getting my BFA in graphic design. I think having a foundation in design really helped to develop my style and apply what I learned towards my illustrations. I was also lucky enough to receive a scholarship to study abroad in Florence Italy while I was in school, which was amazing beyond words. Having the opportunity to live in a city that is so immersed in art history was incredibly humbling and inspiring.
2. You've got a distinct illustrative style that presents your subjects (often the human body) in a powerful, fun, and sometimes whimsical way. What inspired your illustrative style? How does your work begin? What brings about the imagery in each piece?
I draw inspiration from so many places. Pulling from history, the Renaissance, Post Impressionist, and Surrealist movements have always been a huge inspiration to me. Artists like Bosch, Van Gogh, and Dalí all visualized the world around them in radically different & innovative ways for their respective time periods. I’m also super into comics and animation. These mediums allow creators to really lean into the fantasy elements of their stories, which I love. Most of my work usually starts with a weird idea that won’t stop rattling around in my head until I get it on paper. I enjoy pulling inspiration from real life, and twisting it slightly to make the viewer have to question what they’re looking at.
3. The "Bodies art Beautiful" theme is a recurring one in your work and it adds a lot of power to your imagery. How does work like this differ from your more whimsical illustrations? How is it similar? Is there any process differences for designing these works?
I think the core of a lot of my work is rooted in mental health. I end up drawing bodies because they’re an extension of the mind. How you view yourself is often warped when you’re struggling with a mental illness, and it’s something that a lot of people deal with every day. Being open and honest about your physical and mental well being is hard when it’s stigmatized by so many people. This type of work is very personal to me, and I can only hope that it makes someone else feel like they’re not alone.
4. Your more recent work has been predominantly black with subtle splashes of pink, what inspired this limited color palette? Is there a narrative meaning that separates this from your more full colored work?
I recently participated in Inktober, which is a daily drawing challenge for the month of October. I tried to simplify the color palette so that I could focus more on the illustrations themselves, rather than being bogged down by a full color rendering. It was mostly just for fun, but it ended up turning into a little series of its own. When I was in school, my printmaking class held a “dusk till dawn” night once a semester where we stayed up all night and made art. There’s something about being pushed to be creative under pressure that leads to some cool work you might not have stumbled upon otherwise. That being said, burnout is also a real thing that you should take seriously. Pushing yourself is good, but not if it sacrifices your health or mental well being!
5. I stumbled upon your work at the Phila MRKT and your feed shows that you're quite active in the local art market scene, how important has this been to not only your art career but your art style?
Living in Philly and becoming more involved in local events has been such a big part of my growth as an artist. Philly has such a thriving art scene full of talented creatives that support and encourage each other. I owe so much of my success to all of the friends and connections I’ve made here. I try to participate in shows and markets whenever I can, and have seriously loved getting to know more and more people in the art community.
6. Finally, PLUGS! Where can people find your work? Any shows/events coming up? Anything and everything that you'd like to share and everywhere people can find your work, fire away!
I post the most regularly on my Instagram @scamuffastudios. Any new projects or upcoming events I have going on will be there! I also sell some prints, pins & stickers at etsy.com/shop/scamuffastudios.