Artist, Designer, And All Around Nice Guy, Luca Paganico, Chats With Steel This Magazine About His Career In The Creative Realm.
By: Stan Gummo
Try catching up with Luca Paganico and you’ll find yourself doing some chasing. A multi-faceted artist, Paganico is in high demand and currently working on projects around the country. We finally caught up with him on his way to IQ Escape in Ross Township where he’s been designing sets for their escape rooms. “Most people call me a Renaissance man,” said Paganico. He’s not exaggerating. His artwork stretches beyond the confines of any one medium, reaching into seemingly conflicting genres like fine art and painting motorcycles. He also designs interiors for houses, flips condos, and builds sets, working as a one-man production team. We were lucky enough to snap a few shots of him in action while painting some of his current pop-art series in his studio in the back of IQ Escape.
“My art is varietal. I had to learn to adapt to art my whole life, from doing caricatures to painting Harleys. I got my start doing graffiti, which now translates into my street art. I’ve adapted different styles from different years, from doing interior design and wearing a bow tie, to wearing my jump suit and working with spray paint,” said Paganico.
His dynamic ability to create is hard to fathom, he’s got his hands in so many different types of projects. After you see him in action bustling around a room, painting, decorating, you get an understanding of the amount of energy coming out of this guy. Seeing his gears in motion, it’s easy to see how he accomplishes so much. “I definitely have ADD,” said Paganico. Indeed, he is a Type A personality. Look at the shots in our photo spread, you’ll notice even his paint cans are placed purposefully. His eye to detail doesn’t stop at the canvas, he sets up his work space to be as neat, and aesthetically organized, as possible.
His introduction to artwork came at an early age. “All through elementary school, break dancing was big, spray paint, that scene, and there was a group of guys, and we were always trying to outdraw each other,” Paganico said. He sharpened his skills through the years and wound up studying industrial design, hoping to build bridges in Pittsburgh. “Back in the nineties, I thought Pittsburgh would be the place. But I never got a job. So, I started doing consultant work and, I started putting art on the side, because I had to pay the bills,” Paganico said.
A childhood friend and drawing partner of Paganico’s invited him out to Las Vegas to paint motorcycles. This was the catalyst to get him back in the groove, and soon Paganico developed a large resume of artistic projects. “People would fly me out to places like Las Vegas and find out I could also design things. A custom painter who knows how to design a space? People liked that,” Paganico said.
After looking through his most recent series of work, a theme emerges. There are hidden messages in all of his paintings. A closer examination will reveal hints pointing at subtle themes within the art. Love, power, mass-consumerism, and other complex issues get a nod in Paganico’s creations. “You see that heart on the duck’s foot? He’s stomping on it. That painting of Weiwei’s face, (gesturing at a painting of Chinese artist and activist, Ai Weiwei) that’s painted on an Ikea table to represent their takeover of the market and globalization,” Paganico said.
A second theme that emerges is the use of several media in each piece he creates. “I’ll put like four or five different styles in each art piece I do. The concept is, art is an interpretation. I see things differently than other people. I’m well rounded enough that I can put more than one medium together and look at the world differently. I am a master air brush artist, and at the same time I use graffiti cans, aerosols, paint brushes, and acrylics,” Paganico said.
For him, it’s a deeply personal relationship with his work. “What keeps me inspired today is the way I look at life. It’s not how we always plan it to be, but you have to make due with it. I think about life a lot. If I put a heart in a painting, or a star, or a tear drop, there’s a reason. They’re symbolic of the changes in our life. If I do a pop-art piece of Donald Duck that says, ‘catch me if you can,’ it could mean that someone’s chasing love, or something. It has a story and a meaning. If somebody says, ‘what is the purpose of this?,’ if they look closely they can see what I’m going through,” Paganico said.