How to draw religion, exploitation and taboo... from an Italian master

Updated 25th February 2016
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How to draw religion, exploitation and taboo... from an Italian master
Written by By Angelica Pursley, for CNN
This story is part of our new Style Italia series - exploring the past, present and future of Italian design.
For prolific Italian illustrator Beppe Giacobbe, "the pencil is the tool of the mind."
Globally recognized for his ability to create unique visual paradoxes that provoke the reader, often beyond the text, his wide-ranging work has enhanced the pages of The New York Times, The New Yorker and Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera. He has been included in illustrated campaigns for United Airlines, won awards for his Rizzoli classics covers, and even turned his hand to children's illustrations.
One of the keys to this success seems to be not overthinking or planning the image.
"Paul Klee said that design has its own intelligence -- you have to be receptive to understand the moment when the drawing is telling you something. Respond as you create."
His signature, limited color palette -- dominated by red, white and black -- provides a framework for conceptual imagery, the likes of which suggests, at times, a political standpoint.
"Everything is political," he explained. "I have my opinion, and I don't want to be superficial. I try to present a visual paradox, or something that can capture the reader's attention. The important thing is not to be banal."
To launch CNN Style's "Style Italia" series, Giacobbe was exclusively commissioned to create a unique series of images inspired by Italian design. Speaking on the experience, he explained some of the difficulties.
"Because I'm Italian, it's like speaking about yourself. Italian design has involved my life -- I was born here. In 50 years I have seen many changes, therefore my point of view is inside the theme. You have to take yourself out of the theme to see it from another perspective."
He's quick to emphasize the fact he is Italian should be of no consequence.
"An image is language without lies. Every person in the world can read an image, so it's not important where you come from."
Images provided by Lazy Dog Press from Beppe Giacobbe's monograph "Visionary Dictionary: Beppe Giacobbe from A to Z"