Gerardo la Porta, aka “Gi_LaPorta” hails originally from Eboli, Italy. His love of art stemmed from an early age with him winning art competitions from the age of nine.
Influenced by artists from the Renaissance, he began to refine his technical skills in oil, acrylics and watercolor. After extensive travel and exploring different cultures and people, he returned home to Italy. It was here that Gi_LaPorta says he found his own “comfortable” personal style of “pop art mixed with the bright colors and nuances of African-style art.” We caught up with him while he was quarantining at home, but staying active in his studio.

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TH: Tell us a little bit about the artwork that was used to launch the UN Covid-19 Brief
At the start of Covid-19, there were numerous messages such as ‘protect yourself’, ‘how to protect yourself with social distancing’ and images depicting people wearing a mask. This gave me the idea of portraying not just how to protect oneself but in a sense how to also ‘protect’ Art during the Covid-19 period.

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TH: Who was your main source of inspiration for the original painting?
My main source of inspiration for the original painting came from an invite to show my art in an exhibition which was due to take place in Cava de’ Tirreni, but due to Covid19 was postponed. The theme for the exhibition was ‘Nature’. Therefore, my artwork depicts Nature – the neck and head of the female being the tree trunk while her hair depicts the tree crown. Adding the mask to the artwork, I believe shows not only the mask protecting the human (female) from Covid-19 but, in a sense, this protection has in turn revived nature somewhat.

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TH: What is your creative process?
My ideas come from all avenues, but mostly from pictures on the web or in magazines. I start with a quick sketch and then paint it straight on canvas – no messing around! While painting I often get lost in my work, taking a few breaks – painting everything I have in my mind down on the canvas. I prefer acrylics more than oil colors, and I blend them directly on the canvas. I never use a palette. 

TH: Do you have any current projects that you are working on right now?
Currently, I’m refining my original artwork for the Cava de’ Tirreni gallery with the hope that the exhibition will take place soon. With no set date in mind for the exhibition, as agreed with the gallery owner, I’m working on the digital viewing of my art giving everyone the opportunity to at least view it online.

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TH: Is there one trick, technique or tool that you've learned over the years that you'd like to share?
Over the years, I’ve tried different techniques and tools in an effort to find my own personal style. I believe I’ve achieved this and my advice for other artists would be to try your own choice of techniques and tools rather than copying someone else’s. Only then, can you truly find what suits you and hopefully something original to you. Or at least have fun trying!

TH: As an artist, how do you stay creative while staying at home and social distancing?
I do a lot of my work from home so the ‘stay at home’ Covid-19 restriction has not really affected me so much. I’m still creative, but probably more so now getting inspiration while browsing on the Internet rather than from being outside. Purchasing canvases online means that delivery is slower, but I’m as busy as every painting – using paper, colored pencils and watercolors more often. I don’t think staying at home and social distancing has hampered my creativity – just yet.

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TH: You've had a few galleries exhibits, what career tips can you share with aspiring artists?
My career tips would be – first, try to find your own style, get creative and busy with your art, and promote it everywhere you can, at every opportunity!
Work hard on your portfolio - this is your business card - and keep it current! Promote yourself and your art everywhere and at every opportunity. Get friendly with lots of gallery owners. And lastly while there will be times you will feel despondent after getting yet another knockback, have your sad moment, then pick yourself up again and keep going. Don’t give up! Believe in yourself and you will find the way.

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Some sage advice indeed. Gi_LaPorta currently resides and works from his studio in Pavia. If you’d like to see more of his work, you can visit his website, Talenthouse or Instagram