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"We all have a rioter inside our walls." - An interview with DotPigeon

DotPigeon is the project of the art director Stefano Fraone that mixes in an explosive see-through, fashion, rap, pop culture and art glitch.

"We all have a rioter inside our walls." - An interview with DotPigeon


Feb 19, 2023

In your own words, can you tell us a bit about you and your artwork?

I’m a 35yo (b.1987) Italian artist from Milan.

Before getting into the art scene I had been an advertising art director for more than 10 years, but at a certain point of my career I started to develop a sense of frustration: I was getting tired to be tied to client briefs, budget limits, having to deal with many incompetent people and so on so I decided to start a side job as an artist. I was finally able to release my creativity without any kind of limitation.


How has your artwork evolved since you first started making art?

It evolved so much. At the beginning it was completely different, I used to work digitally only and all my artworks were very similar to advertising key visuals. Straight forward images with the idea of conveying a single message, a simple one. In these terms my background obviously helped me a lot. I had a kind of Instagram success, some artworks were viral but after a while I got tired of what I was doing. I explored different ideas, concepts and techniques and in 2020 the balaclava character was born.

Digital art was not popular like with NFTs, it was difficult to be seen as a proper artist so my style evolved to something that visually was talking to both worlds: the digital and the physical. The idea has been to use digital brushes evoking traditional ones, I wanted my artwork to be hung on a wall close to traditional ones without being out of tune. I wanted people to ask themselves: is this a digital or a physical artwork?


I won't be king
180 x 135 x 3 cm | 2023

What inspired you to become a studio artist?

I’m a living room artist, not a studio one. Everything I do is done using an iPad only so I’m free to work wherever I want, I don’t need a proper space, lucky me!


What has been the most rewarding part of your career as an artist?

For me, the most rewarding moments are the most unforgettable experiences. Here’s 3 epic moments I experienced:

Being the cover of Esquire Magazine Italy last year. Having the solo show in Los Angeles at Lorin Gallery and seeing many people coming with a ski mask on. Being voted as one of the top 100 creators and personalities in the web3 world at a gala dinner at the top of Rockefeller Centre.

How did you come up with the idea for your artwork?

Usually ideas for artwork come up from something I experienced in real life or a specific sensation I felt regarding someone or something; for “Dear art curator f**k you* I was rejected to taking part in a project, “I won’t be king” is a introspective piece that talks about broken dreams and disillusion, “Hyenae” is a piece that enlightens the behaviour of those people that backstab you and are ready to dance on your graveyard.

172,5 x 130,5 x 3 cm | 2022

Dear art curator f**k you
82,5 x 115,5 x 3 cm | 2020

How do you select the spaces you feature?

Usually houses are real apartments of collectors, celebrities or generally wealthy people. I do a lot of research scrolling through architecture websites and Instagram pages, interior decoration blogs, collectors feeds and even Zillow. For the Los Angeles solo show, for example, they are all celebrity houses located in California. Other times I paint a new house from scratch using references of styles and furniture.


Can you tell us a bit about a few specific pieces you have created that you are particularly proud of or you feel best describe your work overall? 

“Killing your ego” is a diptych in which the character is pointing his hand like a gun at “himself” in the mirrored painting. It shows the continuous fight between the dark and bright side of my mind. The smiling face and the riot one. Another piece that embodies this concept very well is “Burn Hollywood burn” in which the balaclava guy, after having set on fire Hollywood hills and having devastated a luxurious apartment, is calmly playing the piano. A moment of calm after the rage.

Burn Hollywood Burn

Tell me about your latest body of work

I’m working on different pieces right now. Don’t want to say too much, but I can say that many new pieces won’t be indoor ones.


Do you have any upcoming exhibitions or projects that you are excited about?

Yes! I’m going to participate with Plan X Gallery at Art Dubai next March, it’s the first time both for me and the gallery to exhibit artworks in Dubai so I’m pretty curious to see how the audience there will react to my pieces. Would have loved to go but due to some health issues I will need to stay in Milan. Then I’m going to have a simultaneous group exhibition in a museum in Milan and in China. Last but not least one of my pieces will be exhibited on a huge public screen in Hong Kong during Art Basel.


Killing your Ego pt. 1
114 x 152 x 3 cm | 2021

How did you gain attention and traction with your work?

I think many people can relate to the message I’m conveying and in addition to this, to promote myself and my work, I use social media at my best. Instagram has been fundamental to reach many people and being appreciated by them, nowadays I use it a little due to the algorithm, which is a real mess. I'm more focused on Twitter and Discord where I can have an almost 1 to 1 relationship with people.


Tell us about your NFT projects? Have you found this new outlet helpful for your work?

Absolutely, NFTs are the main reason I have financial freedom today. It’s thanks to NFTs that I left my previous job to become a full time artist. In addition to this, this new media allowed me to execute things I could have never done before; for example dynamic artworks that are not simply “moving artworks” but artworks that evolve and change thanks to certain dynamics.

“Nothing beats a gang” is a piece that gets more and more devastated based on its resale price. The higher the price of the resale, the higher the devastation of the scene.

Killing your Ego pt.2
114 x 152 x 3 cm | 2021

Are there any particular artists or movements that have greatly influenced your work? In what way?

 Mmm, I don’t have a specific source of inspiration, I used to scroll an infinite amount of art and design blogs, I love the street, gang related stuff like Pieter Hugo photography or “550”books, I go to contemporary art museums and galleries. I think the inspiration is the results from all this.


What is your favourite medium to work with? Please tell us a bit about how the medium influences or supports the ideas behind your work

I would obviously say digital painting even though I have had so much fun in creating sculptures too. Together with Plan X Gallery we released one big black resin sculpture that was auctioned by Christies last year and then, with Lorin Gallery, we released a 30cm tall multiple edition.

My dark twisted fantasy
Size: H13” Material: Polyresin material
Signed and numbered

Are there any techniques you have developed that you use consistently in your artwork? 

In my paintings I constantly evolve the way I work changing brushes and trying different techniques. I got bored very quickly so I have to challenge myself and find new ways to get to the result.


Describe your process of creating a new artwork from concept to completion.

 As said, everything starts from an idea, I never stand in front of the canvas and freely paint going with the flow. I’m not that kind of artist. When an idea comes to my mind (usually late at night)the first thing I do is try to imagine where the scene will take place and what the balaclava guy is doing inside of it. Once done I do a lot of research to find an ambient that works for the idea, in case I can’t find one I use AI to “shape it” and I use the result as reference. Then I paint. If I’m doing a physical I then print on canvas the artwork and I hand touch it to finalize it, in case it’s a NFT I go to the next step: the animation.


Are there any techniques or materials you would like to include in your work in the future?

 I always dreamed about making an art rug piece. This is a very old design I made, but I still like it a lot

Always Riot

Always Riot

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