q)What is your name?
a)My name is Manuel Di Rita and my art name is Peeta.
q)Where do you live and work?
a)Right now I live in Treviso which is a small town near Venice (Italy).I mostly work at home to make my artworks such as canvases and sculptures, but I also often work in other countries.Sometimes I paint my canvases in the US since that is where most of my sales are from.This is more cost effective for me and my customers rather than painting them in Italy and then shipping them to the US.I have also been invited to many exhibitions and graffiti jams around the world such as the Meeting of Styles, the Cosmopolite Festival in Paris in 2004, the Urban Dream in Belgium in 2004, and the Balcan Express in Sarajevo in 2006. And on October 25 of this year, I will be at the 4 Seasons graffiti exhibit in Madrid.Another reason to travel is to show my sculptures in galleries.Recently I exhibited some graffiti sculptures at FIVEten Studio in downtown Oakland, California.Sometimes I simply like to travel to go to design fairs, visit galleries and to paint with friends.Next week I will be in Paris painting with other graffiti artists. Even though I don't get paid for these meetings at the moment, I see this as enrichment for my job. All these visits and meetings are an important source of inspiration.
q)What is your creative process like?
a)Basically it's just writing my name.My creative process began in '93, and step-by-step I developed my letters' into more and more three-dimensional forms.I use sculpture as a studying method to deeply understand the third dimension in my shapes so that I can paint them better.
q)What is your favorite medium?
a)I love to paint with spray paint on virgin and dirty walls of old factories. Aluminum is my favorite sculptural material because it's the most difficult to work with and the most interesting to see.
q)What is your current favorite subject?
a)I love to write 'Peeta', or just 'Peta' most of the time.
q)How long does it take for you to finish a piece?
a)It depends on what kind of artwork. Sculptures need 2 weeks to 1 year to finish. Simple paintings usually need 6 hours while the much larger and more complicated ones take 3 days. The complexity rather than the size determines the length of time to complete.
q)What has been your biggest accomplishment so far?
a)About 5 years ago I did a sculpture made of hundreds of pieces of cellulose acetate stuck together with acetone. It was a yearlong process which is a really long time for me. This piece was commissioned by Susan Farrell who is the owner of artcrimes.com. It's a milestone in my work because it completely changed my way of painting and it helped me approach industrial design differently. At the moment, industrial design is a really good inspiration source for me.
q)Are there any contemporary artists that you love?
a)I love Delta INC artworks for graffiti artists.And I like Serra and Coons for sculptures.
q)Can we buy your art anywhere?
a)Yes, anyone can buy my artworks simply by writing and emailing me.And there are a few galleries where my artwork is for sale.Artdrenaline Gallery in the Megastores in The Hague, The NetherlandsEdgeArt Gallery in Manchester, UKFIVEten Gallery, Oakland CA, USA.
q)Anything that people should know about that we don't??
a)My art name, Peeta, has no significant meaning. It is just my nickname.
q)What is your best piece of advice for those who would like to rise in their level of artistry?
a)Oh,simply keep doing it.
q)What inspires you to keep going when the work gets frustrating or tough?
a)I've never really had writers block, but sometimes I need some breaks and try to do something completely different.Just after that, I feel lighter and I can do my artworks with fresh new ideas.And usually sketching in big open spaces helps me to have big ideas.Anyway I'm really methodical so I keep working and also because I always look forward to seeing my finished work.
q)How do you describe your work to those who are unfamiliar with it?
a)I simply say that my artwork is the abstract way to draw myself because I paint 'Peeta' and I am Peeta.Usually graffiti has a wild style and the lettering is flat and outlined. Instead, I paint without outlines and i use light and shadows to convey the letters three-dimensionally. In this way, my paintings look like 3D sculptures on the wall. To most people, my letters are unreadable because it has been constantly morphing since I was 14 years old. It has been a long personal process of evolution. I basically paint my name for its self-satisfaction. I just paint what I feel like at the moment whether it be just shapes or letters, but always in my style. This helps keep my work dynamic and my composition evolving. To others it may seem too complicated or impossible to deeply understand, but I think this may be the reason why people like it. I think people like the impact of my artwork, both my paintings and sculptures, because of their realistic 3D effects and complexity of shapes. Whether they can read my letters or not, they can appreciate the sensation as they view the forms. So, I think i can say that I paint and sculpt emotions, which is typical of abstract paintings.
q)What kind of training did you have which helped you achieve your current level of artistry?
a)Well, I don't know if I can call it training, but I've been doing industrial design. It is a kind of training because I learned how to draft, think of shapes in design, and use representational methods. This somehow helped me to have a better understanding of how to draw my shapes and letters. It is the same with sculpture. Making sculptures and also simply projecting a sculpture is a good training method for painting them since you are more aware of it three-dimensionally.
q)Is there a tool or material that you can't imagine living without?
a)Oh it depends if for living you mean making art. In that case, I cannot make art without spray paint. And I think I cannot live without an internet connection.
q)Who are your influences?
a)Joys, Daim and Seak are graffiti writers that I have worked with and have influenced me. Architect Zaha Hadid has also greatly influenced my work.
q)What inspires you to create?
a)I take inspiration from everything around me. But the main thing that allows me to create is seeing my name on a surface. It's an instinct that I have. I like the sensation I have when I see my artwork finished and so I always look forward to seeing the next one. Then I think I take inspiration from within myself, the way I feel at the moment.My moods inspire me to paint differently. There is a total difference when I paint when I'm happy versus when I am sad. I also always look at what I did yesterday and I try to add something new everyday.