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Noir, Comics and Art as an Everyday Experience: A Chat with Vincent Nappi

Art is subjective. Enjoying art in a comic book like, say artist Vincent Nappi’s comic Victorie City, may affect the way you experience the story. But what about art on billboards or t-shirts? Do you accept it more so due to the genre it’s gracing? We talked with Nappi about his now ongoing Kickstarter and what it means to produce a brand.

AiPT!: Tell us a bit about yourself. How long have you been in the art game?

Vincent Nappi: I’m 24 now, so aside from the year or so I spent figuring out that a pencil is something you draw with and not something you eat, safe to say I’ve been in the art game all my life. I’ve had the great fortune of surrounding myself with incredible mentors in the comics and illustration biz, guys like George Pratt and the instructors at the Illustration Academy. I spent two years and about five summers out in Kansas City with that crew, spending every day and nearly every night painting and drawing away in a dusty top floor warehouse studio. There was and is no better art education, but all of that is a million miles away from fashion.

AiPT!: The Kickstarter project is called NOIR INC. Is it called that because it’s all black and white or does it have Film Noir sensibilities too?

Vincent Nappi: NOIR INC. is really more of a play on words, but film noir is one of my absolute favorite forms of visual expression. Hell, I wrote and illustrated an entire graphic novel in the genre! The tough guys and mysterious gals, the killer wardrobes, the dramatic lighting, the snappy dialogue, it’s impossible to not love. It’s probably more of an influence on me than I know. Sounds cool too!

AiPT!: Is this your first time using Kickstarter? Why do this via Kickstarter?

Vincent Nappi: It is my first time using Kickstarter, but it’s not my first time being around a Kickstarter. I know some really incredible artists and video guys who have utilized the platform in ridiculously successful ways to fund their own projects. Once you’ve accounted for all you can account for, the site can become a spectacular platform to get your message and product out into the world in a way that’s fun and accessible. A Kickstarter project is like a press package that you present directly to your audience, no middleman needed.

AiPT!: What sparked creating a brand and how many folks are involved in creating it?

Vincent Nappi: NOIR INC. is my way to bring killer art to great cuts through a medium that has the potential to reach far more people than the printed page can.

I want you to wear these tees and take a little of the swagger, a little of the cool, a little of the attitude I put into my work, and bring it into your daily life. I want to give you accessible, wearable art that you can toss on and be proud of, clothes that are sexy, minimal, versatile, the kind of thing that looks great on its own, under a leather jacket or a tux jacket.

Killer art deserves a platform that people can engage with on a daily basis. Right now illustration is just not a part of people’s everyday experience, unless they specifically seek it. Folks might not all dig on the latest comics or what’s going on in the Society of Illustrators, but everyone has to wear clothes.

AiPT!: That’s a fascinating concept–how does art change when it graces something you engage with differently? One might say you’re slapping an image on a shirt, but is there more thought going into it than that?

Vincent Nappi: There’s a lot of thought behind each illustration. It’s not just taking any art and putting it on a shirt. You have to take into account how it’s going to sit against a real person. Will the overall design of the drawing flatter a person’s body? How can I create a powerful silhouette? Clothing deals with all of the same concerns art does…proportion, color, composition, etc. You’ve just got a three dimensional canvas to play with instead of a two dimensional one!

AiPT!: How much development and research went into developing this brand?

Vincent Nappi: Ironically, the illustration end of this whole shebang was the easiest to deal with!

Just like any other creative endeavor, you wind up doing a lot of reading and looking before you take the plunge…

Scoping out the market as a producer instead of a consumer, checking out what’s going on with graphic apparel at the high end [and] low ends of the fashion spectrum. Figuring out where to source blanks from, wrangling quotes from screenprinters, figuring out where the labels will come from, getting hangtags, setting up a website, etc.

There are a million details that you’ve got to at least be familiar with before you dive into anything apparel related, and building NOIR INC. and launching this Kickstarter has been an amazingly fun and tremendously challenging learning experience.

AiPT!: Victorie City is wrapping up soon with the final issue in the miniseries. Tell us your insanely expressive art will be gracing another comic soon and if so what will it be?

Vincent Nappi: Nothing definite planned in comics at the moment, but I’m confident that will change soon. You can get your fix with SUCKER’S GAME though! That was really my whole entry into comic and graphic novel making. If you dig film noir, if you dig my art, if you like shady people in sunny places, Las Vegas, gigolos, the Russian mob, you’ll get a kick out of it. Guaranteed.

A page from Victorie City.

AiPT!: Thanks for taking the time.

Vincent Nappi: Hey, thank you!

Check out Vincent’s Kickstarter which still has 20 days to go!


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