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SOAPMUSE: GAIA BERNASCONI

// Meet the figurative artist, illustrator and creative soul behind Isoì

AN INTERVIEW BY FEDERICA CIUCI PRIORI

Gaia is a talented and beautiful figurative artist, craft-designer and illustrator.
But first of all, she’s is one of the most kind and passionate girl I have ever had the pleasure to talk with.
With her refined creativity and a strong devotion she’s carrying on her art, her project Isoì and her several collaborations always putting in the first place her soul and what art means to her.
Thanks to a style strongly characterized by her deep knowledge of the different artistic techniques Gaia has immediately collaborated with some big names of the Made in Italy by placing her signature on special projects for Acqua di Parma, Martini, Trussardi, Tod’s and many others.
And she’s the co-founder and creative soul of Isoì, an emerging brand with a concept store and a creative lab located in the hearth of Milan.
She’s a SoapMuse because, beside all the problems of having a personal project, with her hard work and eclectic vision, Gaia does not give up.
Especially for us and for this lil interview, this modern blondie heroine has created an incredible embroidery with and hand holding a coral.
What can I say? Enjoy her story.

Federica. Ciao Gaia! What does beauty mean to you?
Gaia. Ciao Federica, I do not know well how beauty can be defined.
Light, energies, emotions that make your heart beat and feel alive for a moment.
In what is not conventional and tells me something I can see the beauty.
Where there is value there’s beauty.

Federica.You are a figurative artist, a craft-designer and an illustrator.
Your style is characterized by the use of different artistic techniques. Is there any of these you prefer? Which one gives you more freedom and power?
Gaia. I love being able to talk, tell stories, worlds. Fantastic realities that I use to express and express what I live emotionally through what I know to do with my hands.
Be it an illustration, an embroidery, a sculpture, a tatto, a mural, a mask is indifferent to me because I follow the need of the moment on the basis of inspiration, I use the technique that most communicates and approaches the idea I have in mind.

Federica. You are the co-founder of Isoì, and independent brand inspired by illustration and true craftsmanship, founded in 2014. Tell us more about it.
Gaia. Isoì was born in the summer of 2014 in an inlet on the island of Ithaca (ikon, Greece), when me and Daniele we improvised an open-air shop where we were selling to curious tourists hand painted handcrafts.
I illustrator, whose hand go alone, safe but in fact very insecure in the soul.
Daniele instead, graphic designer and art director who discovers my world and love that what I felt towards that place pushed me to believe in myself and try.
It became a vital passion for a job, a brand and a project to take care of and build together.
And so, before we realized in the shade of those hot, windy afternoons Isoì was born.

Federica. In 2015, Isoì also became a concept store/workshop in the creative heart of Milan. In a world where everything goes so fast and the buying process often takes place online, how important is it for you to let people come to see you giving life to the items they will buy? I think, especially in a big city, it’s very hard to find a direct contact with the creative process…
Gaia. Being an artist in Italy today is very complicated, and being able to have an economic stability through one’s own creations is very hard. Unfortunately in a world where everyone is used to have almost everything and immediately, to understand all the process and the time there is behind every creation is very complicated and these is usually understood by a niche of people who already enjoy and understand manual work. At the moment in addition to the work and the courses that we keep at Isoì, I work under commission for the fashion world, making available to my costumers my manual skills without, however, being able to maintain the artistic personality of Isoì.
This is in the long run is very frustrating and tiring because the timing is very tight.

Federica. Milan: what’s going on speaking of underground artistic realities? Do you think it’s a positive period for our city?
Gaia. I’m originally from Bologna but I’ve chosen to live in Milan for almost 10 years, a city that at the moment I think is in a very great artistic ferment and not only, also a great openess and a wider vision, educated in a visual language as europeans capitals such as Berlin, Paris, London and Barcelona.

Federica. Your own brand and your own creative space, several collaborations from Trussardi and Tod’s to Martini and Acqua di Parma, personal expositions, live performances and so on. And you are 27! 
What has been the biggest goal you achieved until now?
Gaia. Ahahaha, I blush.
Thanks this is a great compliment and a infusion of self-esteem.
I think I’m still young to be able to say what my greatest success was.
Surely my greatest joy was the opening 4 years ago of the artistic laboratory and of the Isoì project (“life” from the modern greek).

Federica. What’s next?
Gaia. The next project I will work on will be an artistic residency in Palermo in September for Manifesta12.

Federica. Where does your aesthetic exactly come from? Where do you find inspiration and how do you organize it?
Gaia. I believe absolutely Ithaca and Greece in my visual, emotional and artistic  training have definitely marked my imaginary and current style.
Fundamental to me are the relationship between man, nature, animals, religion, mythology, iconography, ancestrally, sin and instinct,.
I have two very voracious eyes that are continually in search of suggestive glimpses, depictions of books and film that I assimilate, chew and elaborate to give life to an image.

Federica. Can you describe the atmosphere in your lab? How should art make a young women feel?
Gaia. I believe that entering the laboratory is a bit like entering the magicians’s circe cave, because the people who have been there always tell me that it’s a bit like being in the belly of Isoì, entering a faraway dimension in which it does not seem to be a Milan on the Naviglio Pavese.

Federica. Being a young and creative women and working in Italy. What does it mean to you?
Gaia. Is is very difficult to be a woman and to do this job in a world that is still very masculist  because often the container is first compared than the content.
Being sensitive and fragile leads me to live very badly this thing because externally I do not feel like what I have internally, so I created masks of fantastic animals in which I can really feel myself without eyes that observe preconceptions, judgments or stereotypes, but simply instinctive and free like wild animals…
I wish I could be more “light” less reflective, deep, individualistic and responsible.
I would like to be able to do things instinctively without always having conscience that makes me perpetually feel guilty or not worthy.

Federica. As an independent female owner, what advice would you share with every girl interested in starting her own business?
Gaia. The advice you want to give to other girls is to never take away your dreams and doubt yourselves.

Federica. From Bologna but living and working in Milan with your hearth still in Greece, on the island of Ithaca, where, back to the summer of 2014, you decided to give life to Isoì with Daniele Desperati creating an open air store. Since you take inspiration from places of great natural beauty, how much the place you live influences your creative process? As an artist, how is to live and create in a big city?
Gaia. I miss so much Ithaca and when I will be able I know It will be my place, the place where I will choose to get old together with olive trees and goats.
Living in Milan is not easy, but we must also be concrete in life and have patience, I know that now is necessary to be here to build me a continuity of work and to be in contact with new and contemporary realities.
Ithaca is home to me, but I always fear to be an old aunt fascinated by the ancient and the lived and always far behind, reclutant and frightened by contemporary evolution. I am not like that.

Federica. Who are your muses?
Gaia. Great source of inspiration to me are Jorodowsky, Maria Lai, Louise Borugeois, Frida Khalo, Stefano Ricci, Riofond and Erica e il cane.

Federica. If you were: a movie, an artwork and a place.
Gaia.If I were a movie: Lazzaro Felice.
If I were a piece of art: Nulla Dies Sine Linea by Antonio Marras.
A Place: the cemetery by the sea of Kioni, Ithaca.

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Meet Gaia here!

In the video, the artwork realized by Gaia especially for SoapOpera.
All the images courtesy of Gaia Bernasconi.

Special thanks to Amanda Luna Ballerini and Marco Mannacio Soderini.

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