Lines of Ordinary Madness

with Emiliano Ponzi


Always known for his bold textured illustrations and strong metaphoric compositions about the “ordinary madness” of our lives, Emiliano Ponzi has rightfully become one of the finest illustrators of his generation. It’s no accident that the publisher Feltrinelli entrusted the last cover’s reissue of Bukowski novels to his judicious use of line.

How was your meeting with a dirty old man like Bukowski?

I known Bukowski during my adolescence. Meeting him in those years has a strong impact, he represents all the excesses in which we would like to get lost, but we have no courage to act: the perverse is the extreme that fascinates us, the endless drinks, the sexual promiscuity. It seems he got rid of any filter between the drive and the action.

Along with the publisher, we decided that Bukowski would have been the main actor and covers his stage. His recognizable figure is in fact a recurring variable of all illustrations. This is also thanks to his being the frontman of his tales that tapered the line between true life and narrated / imagined life. The obstacle to be circumvented, especially at the beginning, has been to find the key between irony, sensuality and anti-socialism, without getting lost in cliché or pornography.

I was a man who thrived on solitude,
without it I was like another man without food or water
Each day without solitude weakened me

About inspiration, did you find the right compromise between loneliness and social life?

It’s always like being on the threshold, neither too outside nor so inside. Both opposites have a risk, wasting yourself or becoming self-referential. Everything we find outside of us feeds us, from exhibitions to theater, to social life. Too much creates indigestion. The compromise is always listening to your belly.

A few words about the vicissitudes — if any — to achieve your “judicious use of line”:

Everyday practice makes us all perfectable but never perfect.

“The hairy man is a virtuoso”: Does it apply to women too?

Just a matter of taste.

The New York Times, The Guardian, Feltrinelli, Rolling Stone… Are there any limits or types of audience you inevitably must abide by when you accept a job?

My job is a triangle of 3 vertices: Me, the customer and the end users. You have to remember that the image is not made for personal pleasure — or not only —, but for a communicative purpose.



This is the way the world ended,
not with an atom bomb,
but with shit shit shit

Some shit is really more harmful than the atomic bomb?

We started eating shit slowly, as long as we believed it was chocolate. Sometimes I see so much visual junk that I would prefer an atomic bomb, at least it’s not slow intoxication but fast fragmentation of atoms.

The child’s memory that best describes your being illustrator:

Maybe a table in the kitchen of the beach house, lazy and sultry afternoon, my mother at the iron and me drawing Spiderman.


All quotes by Charles Bukowski







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