Sugar Daddy? A period product? Late fees? This month we are inviting consumers to see some of the amusing misconceptions about our brand and discover the truth about Klarna. And to help us bring those misconceptions to life, we were honoured to partner with none other than artist Ignasi Monreal, famous for his collaborations with Gucci, Vogue and Netflix.
From his studio in Rome, in a true relaxed artistic fashion, Ignasi sat comfortably in front of a large wooden easel, with what appeared to be a large plate and spoon propped upon it. Of course, moments in we discovered this to be a gigantic photo-real painting by Ignasi himself . . .
For those who don’t know you well, how would you introduce yourself?
My name is Ignasi, I am from Barcelona, but now living between Lisbon and Rome. I work in digital art, painting, murals, ceramics, animation and a little bit of film too.
Can you explain your creative process and how you design digitally?
It’s pretty similar to how you can do it on paper, apart from you can store it all on one small screen, it’s very useful. I sketch . . . and then I paint! The magic of it is that you have layers, and you can play with different digital features that normally you wouldn’t. It’s similar in the techniques, the basics are the same, just the medium is different. The biggest difference is that when you work with paint, colour runs out, here it doesn’t and you can go back as well although I personally try not to. Because of the layers, it allows the painting to then be animated.
And for me, the biggest asset is when you work digitally, you can reproduce it forever and ever without losing quality. Which has now picked up on the art market very famously with the NFTs. It’s really really cool for me because I’ve been waiting for like… 15 years now for an opening for my work and now I’ve got gigabytes worth of paintings stored in my hard drive.
For a digital artist to know that there’s now a market where you can sell your work directly to a customer, the collectors without a middle man, for the first time ever my digital work feels legit. Up until now, it’s felt like it’s not good enough, as you can not touch it, I had to justify why it was valuable. It’s so exciting for us.
Your colour work is incredible – do you view colour from the beginning, or does this come later in the process?
It depends! For Klarna I started not in black and white, but in muted tones, just to differentiate, because there was a process of approval. So first, we needed to approve the sketch, so I needed to represent that first.
When I paint for myself, I go directly to colour, because I know what I want – boom boom boom and it’s done, but when clients are involved there is a different approach.
Starting with your creative process, where do you usually find your inspiration?
Art History is a big point of reference for me, going back to the old masters and looking at their legacy and following on from there…it is such a rich source of inspiration. Now I’m living in Italy, the Italian old masters and the art history of the western world is very present in the streets, like it or not it just reflects on my work. I’ve become quite ‘baroque’ since I moved from London to here.
How would you describe your artistic style?
Hmmm I do many different things. You have probably seen one very specific side of my work. But let’s put it this way… a journalist friend of mine once said my style is Monrealist. It always works in interviews to say that! I feel my work can speak for itself, that’s why I paint.
You mix classical and contemporary in your designs, where do you take your inspiration from/ who inspires you?
I look up to many. I guess my two big references would be Velázquez and Caravaggio – obviously because I am a figurative painter. But what I like about them is that they were so good at what they did. They managed to do the greatest paintings, that if anyone else were to do, they would’ve been burned at the stake for heresy! But they were so good, they got away with it. The work managed to outlive the moral codes of the time, and it’s considered genius throughout the centuries, regardless of what people’s beliefs are. I like that they somehow managed to mock the status quo by doing something brilliant.
Did you always know you wanted to be an artist?
No. I come from a country where unfortunately art is still today not considered a profession, it’s more like a hobby. We were taught that we had to be doctors or lawyers or accountants. So my lifetime ambition was to be a graphic designer in a big corporation. For me that was as far as I could reach. And then I moved to London, and that opened my view of what my possibilities were. I was a painter all my life, but I didn’t consider it a way of earning my living.
What is your favourite thing about being an artist?
Freedom – but I don’t feel so free at the moment being locked in my house!
But otherwise, knowing that what you do is valuable. Because being an artist is very intimate, it comes from the inside. Knowing that this is enough for you, gives your life purpose. If you feel empty, you just create, and you find purpose! It is also my way of meditating.
The Klarna campaign is about mythology – do you have any myths that inspire you or philosophies that you live by?
Yes! My mother studied Philosophy and Greek Humanities, so instead of telling me fairytales, she’d read me myths before going to bed. I grew up to Greek Myths. I don’t know if that is a bit tragic . . .
Which of your paintings for Klarna is your current favourite?
The Minotaurs painting, because I like the purple desert as an idea… I’d like to be in a purple desert.
You’ve worked with some incredible brands from Gucci, Bulgari, Vogue to Netflix – do you have a dream client or brand that you’d love to work with?
Yes! I would love to work with a video game company, any of the big ones really! I have an idea of a crazy world I’d like to build.
A few quick questions:
City or countryside? For now, during the pandemic, the countryside!
Wine or beer? Wine.
Pop music or rock music? Pop.
Rome or Lisbon? Rome is beautiful but Lisbon, as I have just moved here and it’s new.
Pool or beach? In a pool by the beach – why choose!
Football game or music concert? I’m not a sports nerd, I prefer music.
Festival or music concert? Festival – but with a hotel, no tents!
Lastly, what do you look forward to most post pandemic? A party with all my friends, I miss being in a sweaty club with drinks flying and great music!