THE MOTIFS OF POP ARTIST, TAVA
*This article was originally published in Decompoz Magazine*
TAVA (aka Antoine Tavaglione) is a Montreal-based artist, who successfully navigates the line between art and business, creating work that pushes boundaries but is also economically viable. While some artists can struggle to maintain their authenticity under such circumstances, TAVA has thrived.
After mounting his first solo show in 2010, TAVA’s popularity has skyrocketed and now he’s widely recognized for his brightly coloured, pop and emoji inspired characters, remixed vintage cartoons, and dripping motifs. His work is featured on murals around the world, on canvases sold through Montreal’s Station 16, and on items like sneakers, jackets, t-shirts, purses, and even cushions.
This multi-talented artist’s list of capabilities reads more like the work of an entire creative team, not the skills of one individual. In addition to his art, TAVA also creates visuals for various companies. He does product design, brand collaborations, artistic direction, visual identity, and commercial design, for various international clients. Some of these include major brands like Vans, Toms, Nike, Ford, and the Just for Laughs Festival. He even has his own range of custom Stan Smith sneakers, which are adorned with his various motifs. In particular, he created one design featuring recognizable Montreal symbols like the Metro sign, and the Montreal skyline. Through TAVA’s website, customers can even order their own personalized Stan Smiths, which are individually hand-painted and can incorporate specific design requests.
Speaking of his bespoke designs, TAVA said, “The stories they tell are as unique as the person wearing them. For sneaker fanatics and art lovers, their customized sneakers, jackets, purses and other fashion accessories are not simply a fashion statement, but rather a means of expression.”
Some of TAVA’s most identifiable pieces feature his screaming heart illustration, which has become somewhat of a trademark for the artist. The symbol was created after a break-up and inspired by the emotion of feeling like your heart is coming out of your chest, like it’s screaming and melting for someone. Already an organ loaded with hidden, and at times unexpressed meanings, the heart is covered in what appears to be dripping milk. The artist has said the milk is a symbol for food and a source of nourishment that dictators take from their subjects during times of oppression. The merging of political issues throughout his work is another strong feature of TAVA’s aesthetic.
For an artist who blends art, commerce and these political statements, it’s easy to see why he lists some of his influences as: Keith Haring, Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons, and Ron English, as well as vintage cartoons, politics, emerging fashion and fads. Additionally, he is impacted by his Italian heritage: the country’s history, its design and its fashion. More generally, his life is a great source of ideas for upcoming projects.
He said, “My travels around the world are what fuel and inspire me to create. I really love immersing myself in different cultures and participating with local artistic communities.”
In 2015, TAVA plans to use more objects like fruit, and more abstract forms, but has said his work will be less character oriented than it has been in the past. TAVA is currently working on some exciting upcoming collaborations with Adidas and BucketFeet, and over the coming months he is working on many commissioned pieces – mostly paintings. Most of all, though, TAVA said he wants to continue exploring, evolving, and challenging himself as he pushes his work to the next level.