Italian illustrator and designer, Elia Colombo known as Gebelia is famous for his ironic and sarcastic illustrations where social media comes very often.
“I’m a free spirit illustrator constantly seeking for perfection into simplicity” is what he said about him. Here is what Elia Colombo had to say to Feel Desain…
1. Let’s start with your stage name (Gebelia), what does it mean?
Hello everyone! This name was given to me as a joke in high school. Me and my schoolmates were watching an episode of the Simpsons, the one that tells the story of the founder of the city of Springfield, Jebediah Springfield, when for some absurd reasons, a friend who loved the rhetoric of assonance, baptized me “Gebelia” (Italianization of the two names Elia and Jebediah).
The name made me laugh a lot, so, from that day, I decided to use it as an identifier for my online presence: any portal, forum, site I signed up for, I enrolled as “Gebelia” or “Gebe”. Later, I could not help but associate this name – which over time has become more and more mine – also to the work of designer and illustrator. In short, exactly as with the natural name, my art name was given to me by someone else, without it being specifically requested.
2. Does your philosophical education influence your work? How?
Of course, it does! Philosophy is not only a school subject, is a disposition of spirit and every aspect of life is affected, work included. Conceptual solidity, critical thinking and overall vision have proved to be indispensable, above all, for the decision to undertake an independent profession, but they are also essential tools for my daily working method. Philosophy has not only an existential value, but also a practical one.
I believe that bright colors have a dual function: on the one hand, to disguise pop concepts that have very little, on the other that of further accentuating the provocation.
3. Does the simple line and bright colors serve to dampen the social criticism of some of your illustrations or do you use contrast to accentuate it?
I don’t think social criticism is my business, I am careful not to express moral judgments about the society in which we live; I simply describe it. The message I want to send through my works is ofter strong, but it never intends to point the finger at something “wrong” outside of us. The aim of my provocation is rather to move the sleeping consciences directly to the subject. That said, I believe that bright colors have a dual function: on the one hand, to disguise pop concepts that have very little (and therefore, as you say, to tone down a bit), on the other that of further accentuating the provocation, precisely because of the contrast that is created between the form and the content.
4. Where do you find inspiration?
Inspiration is interesting topic. Actually inspiration is not something you can control and active every time you want. This might suggest that external things inspire us, but in my opinion this is not the case: in fact, if a chair was a source of inspiration for what it is, then it would inspire us every time we look at it, when instead we could sit in that chair for a whole life without arousing in us the slightest movement, until the moment when, finally, it inspires us. This means that it is not things that inspire us, but the way we perceive them.
Where do I find inspiration? Nowhere specifically, but potentially everywhere. Inspiration is an instant that must be seized: no one knows where to find it, but one can educate oneself to wait for it and welcome it. I always associate the subject on inspiration with the image of the fisherman who drops his nets in the sea, not knowing where the fish are exactly, nor which ones he will catch.
5. Often social networks are part of your works. What is your opinion on the use we make of them?
I consider social media as a great medieval thinker considered logic: a sword is an instrument that is harmless in itself that can be used well, or badly. Social networks work the same way. Personally, I do not share any criticism that is moved a priori to this means: we naively tend to attribute to them the responsibility of our condition, only because, we are not able to attribute it to ourselves, and we find it more convenient to blame something else.
Social media is a powerful tool at the service of creativity and sharing, it is up to us to exploit them in the most intelligent way. The important thing is that they are not exploiting us.
6. How important is irony in life?
Isn’t it ironic enough that we have to live without having chosen it? Existence is a mockery, and I believe that making fun of it in our turn is the most creative way to support it. As for my life, therefore, irony is very important, but I can’t guarantee for the lives of others!
7. A writer, a director, a musician and an artist who have been important to you.
Among the writers, no doubt Leopardi and Nietzsche, who represent the cases of maximum intellectual and spiritual affinity I have ever experienced. As a director, I choose Woody Allen. As musicians, Pink Floyd in the first place, but then also Radiohead. I’m in crisis on the artist… Do you get offended if I confess that I don’t understand anything about art?
8. Finally, our ritual question: what is creativity for you?
Great question! For me creativity is seeing what others do not see and being able to put it into practice.
For more follow Gebelia’s works on Instagram!