STREETWEAR, RAP AND CONTEMPORARY ART: DIFFERENT PASSIONS ON ONE SHEET

We are in conversation with Davide Martino, a 22 year old artist with a passion for design, street art, sneakers and rap culture, and currently pursuing a course in Art-Direction at the IED University in Milan.




How and when did the idea of your Instagram page come up?


My Instagram page was born in 2017, from the need to have a space to showcase my creative content that I develop out of passion. I didn't want a professional portfolio but something more fluid and less limited in terms of sharing contents, in order to better interact with the people who follow me.


Your page is called key____graphics. Why did you choose this name?

I have been linked to the world of graffiti and street-art for many years: I changed many "tags" (writers' nickname) until I found a simple and meaningful name, KEY. Then I associated the name with the concept of "key" that opens the doors of my creative world. Even though I stopped doing graffiti, the name KEY stayed with me and reminds me of the first artistic field I was passionate for.




Artist Davide Martino's digital illustration representing a young black man in streetwear and snickers



Where do you get your inspiration from?


My search for inspiration is very wide and it comes mainly from everything related to the world of Hip-Hop, such as music and street art, but also cinema, contemporary art, sneaker and clothing design, comics and cartoons I grew up with.


​What do you want to communicate through your creations?


I haven’t got a real communicative intent, I just try to represent visually what I have in my mind and give a more personal aspect to what fascinates me and my followers, enclosing, in an image, all these "worlds" that I talked about.



"My search for inspiration is very wide and it comes mainly from everything related to the world of Hip-Hop such as music and street art".






We've seen that the image of the mouse is present more than once in your page. Is there any meaning behind this character?


The mouse is a character who represents me and more generally the citizens of big cities, which have always been compared to dens where we are all crammed like mice; but it isn’t a negative representation of these aspects.

Moreover, it is an animal that is often present in the cultures of many countries: in the East it is often considered a sacred creature and it’s compared to a deity that brings luck and wealth. Even in pop culture, thanks to Walt Disney and his Mickey Mouse, this animal has become a true icon recognised and appreciated in every part of the world.



Is graphics design your only passion?


My greatest passions besides graphic design are sneakers and rap. I've been a sneakers collector for a long time: I love to know the various design aspects of sneakers and the stories behind them. I believe that today the sneaker you wear defines you personally and makes you part of a certain environment from which you feel represented.

On the other hand, rap is for me the artistic form closer to the literature and poetry of the past. It's something that is able to take a clear picture of the time in which it was made. Just think of Nas's Illmatic, a record thanks to which you can breathe the air of New York of that time, without ever having really seen it.


"The mouse is a character who represents me and more generally the citizens of big cities, who have always been compared to dens where we are all crammed like mice".




"I believe that today the sneaker you wear defines you personally and makes you part of a certain environment from which you feel represented".





Are you working on any new project?


I'm currently working for a streetwear brand of some friends called PÜSSEE ("more" in Milanese dialect). Through it we try to enhance the past and contemporary artistic imagination of the city of Milan and apply it to the design of streetwear clothes, so as to represent anyone who has a common vision of the world to ours.


To view more of Davide's work, follow him on instagram






Interview and Article by

Marika Pesco

Photos Provided by

Davide Martino



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