Simone Legno is an internationally-renowned illustrator and the creator of the tokidoki line of toys, t-shirts, bags, and other lifestyle accessories. Simone is from Rome, has worked in Tokyo, and is currently based in LA where his flagship tokidoki store is located.
I follow you on Twitter, and I know you’re a really big boxing fan. Would you like to talk about that?
Simone Legno (SL): (laughs) I know you are asking me that question because you are Filipino! Yes, I like boxing — I practice a bit of boxing! As a guy I find it very romantic — it’s a sport of sacrifice. And the level of training is very high — it’s an art. The more you know about boxing the more you realize how beautiful and artistic it is.
I am actually friends with a young Filipino boxer Nonito Donaire — he’s a tokidoki fan, and he invited me to one of his fights on October this year. I’m really looking forward to that.
You’re from Italy, many of your designs are influenced by Japan, your flagship store is in LA, and you are friends with some Filipino boxers — how has this influenced your art?
SL: Everything I like makes it way to my art. Right now, aside from the cute things, little boxers have started showing up in my illustrations. I just like to have fun with the art I have. Some of it may be commercial, some of it may be not — but I just like to keep going.
For example: back then, when I wanted to do illustrations of geisha, I was also influenced by the punk rock scene. So I thought I would combine the two, undress the ladies from their kimono, and give them body art like modern women. Combine that with cute characters, and the Japanese influence really shows.
Then when I moved to LA, I started incorporating elements of LA like street art and bling and handguns. It’s like a diary of my life — it’s always changing. Even with things I drew just three years ago, I can tell that my style is changing one way or another.
If you could share one advice with illustrators who would like to break into the market, what would it be?
SL: First of all — start a website (laughs)! But more importantly, don’t try to copy anybody. Copying someone never pays off. Also, people out there are always looking for something new and different, and that could be you.
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