by Sarah Spencer
Sometimes the humidity makes New Orleans look like a painting, and Giovanni Tutrone perfectly captures the spirit and reality of what makes New Orleans—well, New Orleans. His use of vivid colors and different methods and materials, ranging from spray paint to acrylics to papier mâché sculptures, makes his artwork come to life uniquely.
Giovanni’s dad was also an artist, so he’s been surrounded by art his entire life. Classroom doodling turned into entering paintings in local competitions by third grade. “The awards I received drove me to do more in my adolescence,” he says. Growing up in the 80s, he was greatly inspired by hip hop and the underground culture that came with it at the time. The movie Beat Street was also a huge inspiration for him, specifically the character Ramone, who was a graffiti artist. “I aspired to be like Ramone and quickly found myself in trouble for practicing my graffiti skills on buildings I shouldn’t have been painting.” He honed that graffiti style (without breaking the law) by focusing more on commissioned murals from local businesses.
His inspiration starts with a passion for either a subject or an element within the piece. For example, the pictured piece showing Daft Punk uses a reflective, disco-ball paint process that he had been thinking about that could give the painting a club feel.”When I have an idea for a new piece, I strive to do something I haven’t done before, whether it’s creating dimension, movement, or using unusual mediums. Once I have the subject, I can usually come up with a concept relatively quickly.” He chooses subjects based on someone or somewhere that is inspiring or holds special meaning to him. Of course, he also takes commissions, where he enjoys putting his personal spin on those pieces. ”It’s a fun challenge,” he muses.
Of course, while art has always been an inspiration to him, he also loves when his viewers are moved by it. “I painted a Gene Wilder Willie Wonka and wanted viewers to feel a little weird, so I painted it with double lines to give it a blurry feel. I wanted the Daft Punk viewers to feel like they were at a club, so it got a disco ball effect. Sometimes I just want viewers to question how it was even made. For example, I painted Lil Wayne and nobody could figure out how I gave him 3D dreadlocks,” he says.
Though he had a gallery in the French Quarter, his art, style, and drive have led him to return to the Jackson Square fence. “I really like the freedom (and hustle) of Jackson Square.” He has a sketchbook filled with 300 ideas, but he’s currently working on a series of layered, laser cut, wood art pieces that he’s pretty excited about.
“I have no regrets, except that I didn’t do it sooner. I plan to continue to push the limits of my imagination and bring unique art to New Orleans for as long as I possibly can.”
You can find Giovanni on the Jackson Square fence in the French Quarter. Follow him on Instagram @skullandbrush and Facebook @tutroneink.