Roberto Rosolin: disorder and restraint
Roberto Rosolin is a graphic designer and art director at fabric.
Born in the north-east of Italy, he’s now based in London, where takes care of the visual aesthetic for the fabric nightclub as well as its record labels fabric Records and Houndstooth. During his time working for the esteemed London club, Roberto has produced some of the its most iconic posters. Featuring strange projections on boulders, fruit covered in paint, mushrooms shrouded in dry ice and figures flying through the air colliding with masses of powdered paint, Roberto’s work is broad in scope but invariably arresting and offbeat. This month Roberto took the time to design a poster for Issue 61 and spoke to us about the ideas and processes behind his eclectic output.
Can you tell us about some of the main inspirations behind your practice?
I know it’s a clichéd thing to open with but absolutely anything can be inspiring – a place, a photograph, a book… anything. I feel like I live in this state of mind where my brain is constantly recording experiences and making notes of certain scenes or conflicting colours, textures or shapes. It can be a little overwhelming at times to process them; the hard part of my job is getting bits of those mental notes out at the right time and for the right reason. Filtering through these ideas is what I enjoy doing most these days though…
How would you summarise the visual aesthetic of fabric?
fabric’s had a long tradition of obscure and out of the ordinary artwork from the very beginning what with the work Jon Cook and the Village Green Studio did. It’s always gone against the grain of mainstream club culture and a lot of that is down to the vision of the club’s founders and the trust and importance they’ve always placed on visual representation. To me fabric’s visual aesthetic is everything at once: it’s uplifting, it’s vibrating, it can be weird, it can be minimal, it can be challenging and it can be a little bit… wrong? And I mean that more in terms of the format of what we’re putting on a club poster.
Your Powder project is possibly one of the most iconic- can you tell us about how this was carried out?
The fabric birthday is always a milestone moment so I always try to come up with something that little bit extra special for it. The basic plot of the series was to convey a sense of the physical energy that gets spread every week over the dancefloors of fabric. There was something about the idea that perfectly translated the fact that the Birthday weekend is a specific moment in time; a singularity that only happens once every 52 weeks. One party that stands out in a whirlwind of movement.
For the shoot itself I worked closely with my partner in crime, the wonderfully talented photographer Mads Perch. He’s always had a pretty unique knack for capturing and isolating movement in his work and that’s something we’ve had a lot of fun exploring together in the past. Everything was done in the camera – I mean, there was a little bit of post-production but essentially we were shooting a model who was jumping up and down on a trampoline whilst a team of ‘shooters’ stood all-round the set throwing powder paint at him. Our main goal was capturing the specific moment where the body is hit by the powder and it explodes outwards.
It was a fun shoot and a real case of trial and error. We tried a lot of different positions and approaches until Mads and I were happy with the result.
There’s quite a clean and minimal aesthetic to your work, but the things happening in the photographs are often very messy and unpredictable by nature – is this tension important to your work?
I think that kind of tension you mention is at the heart of everything I produce. For the fabric artwork in particular it’s very important for me personally to have some sort of this vibration in the image, even if people don’t immediately notice it themselves. I do like simple things, but I also want images to have a clever twist to them that makes them unique. I pay a lot of attention to the typography used because I really enjoy that as an aspect myself. There’s a beauty in a regulated, well-crafted font and if I’m using it, I want that to be able to shine too, just as bright as the image. I feel like there’s an uncomplicated balance to my work but yeah, the tension is just as important.
The carnivorous plants pictured in your work are quite futuristic and alien-like in their appearance, especially when placed against a flat grey background- somehow this makes a lot of sense in relation to electronic dance music. Do you think about your work in relation to sound?
I try not to be too influenced in terms of my art direction by any sound or genre or style. Obviously working in the music industry means that people will definitely take different inferences from different artworks, like your connection of the alien-looking plants and electronic music for example. The conclusion individual people draw from artwork is rooted so much in their environment that it’s impossible to predict. But to answer your question, of course I think I am influenced by sound too but I don’t file, arrange or process the sounds the same way that I do images in my head.
In a lot of the photographs, for example the ‘Projections’ series, it seems like you’re choosing to physically make things happen in front of the camera – things that look almost unreal, like CGI – rather than manipulating things digitally afterwards. Is this choice something that is important to your practice?
Yes, it’s important to me because I feel like capturing the real thing in the physical world gives the final image a unique feeling. It’s not an approach that’s as black and white as digital vs. analogue, or computer vs. film; I use both for different reasons. Photographing subjects in real life just makes them feel more real to me. It makes them warmer.
Lastly, what do you think you would be doing for a living if you weren’t doing this?
It’s weird because I’ve gotten to do what I always wanted to do, but for some reason I always thought I might be a teacher. It’s what my parents did and I love the idea of enabling creativity in other people.
See more of Roberto’s work at www.plusyes.com