Diving Into the Dystopian with Dangiuz
Dangiuz is an Italian visual artist who mostly works in the 3D space. Inspired by the cyberpunk aesthetic, Dangiuz’s work is rich with dystopian imagery and vivid futuristic scenery. In this interview, we dive into his personal style, his filmic inspirations, and his unique ability to inject brightness into otherwise depressing visions of the future. Please note, this conversation has been edited for brevity and clarity.
Q: What was the first moment that you remember wanting to be an artist?
Dangiuz: I always wanted to create my own artwork. I started out as a graphic designer. I had been working in the commercial side of art, making computer graphics and things like that, for many years. I’d pursued graphic design in school, but I just kept creating my own artwork. I always had this creative freedom inside myself wanting to be freed.
Q: When you first started, did you think about making NFTs or were you just building art?
Dangiuz: I kind of got into NFTs in the middle of 2020 when I received an email from some NFT guys from an NFT platform. Back then, I was having a lot of trouble with my old work, as COVID was very heavy in Italy. I had to head back to my hometown of Turin, so I couldn’t really just get started right away. It took me some time, but in February, 2021, I minted my first album.
Q: Is there a specific art piece that put you on the map?
Dangiuz: My artwork INSOMNIA was the piece that made me go from “unknown artist” to “that ‘girl at window’ guy”. Back in 2019, it was all over the internet. It hit Reddit’s front page multiple times, was shared by the biggest art pages anywhere, and earned me tons of followers. It became such a strong concept that I have reimagined, readapted and reinvented it many times. It’s one of my most iconic pieces.
Q: Think of someone who’s just getting started, who is struggling with, “Do I sell this or not? I have to know my worth,” which is not always obvious or easy for people. What advice would you give to people?
Dangiuz: I don’t really see or think of myself highly enough to give people certain advice. But I can tell my story. I can tell my tale. I can say what I did and what worked for me. At this point, I’ve already made more than 200 works of art in my career. It comes easily for me to decide what to mint. Once I minted my first piece, which at the time was one of my best works, I decided what to mint next by prioritizing the quality of the artwork. Eventually, I began to factor in the level of appreciation that the artwork received across social media. I certainly think not every artwork is supposed to be minted– I only mint what I consider to be worthy.
I have always been passionate about the future, technology, advancement of civilization.
Q: Let’s talk about your super distinctive style. How long did it take you to develop that style or to arrive at the current Dangiuz style?
Dangiuz: So I think first of all, when I hear that, and I hear that pretty often, “when I see something of your work, I can instantly tell it’s you,” or something along those lines– it’s really, really the best compliment. I started off by doing this retro arcade, vapor wave artwork, using pink or purple tones. After a couple months, I realized I was heading towards a bit darker style– using futuristic androids and robots and dystopia. I have always been passionate about the future, technology, advancement of civilization, all that sort of stuff. To me, it just came naturally to pursue that style. Then with my art, what I try to convey, what I try to deliver, is these big cities– these big scenarios and these small humans, like the kitty, the girl, and the man.
You tend to root for them, right? You see that they are so small in this very huge big city. They are against the whole city, against the whole world. So it came naturally to me to follow this path, to follow this cyberpunk lore. My style is currently a mixture between romantic paintings and sci-fi, standard cyberpunk artworks.
Q: There’s a lot of symbolism in your pieces as well as common themes that reappear. So for someone who’s not as familiar with your work, what are those for you?
Dangiuz: In terms of symbolism, I think certainly of the cat, which appears in many of my artworks. Even the holograms and the neon in my buildings are often recurring symbols. I think every piece of my artwork is part of the same micro world, the same microcosm. Some pieces are in different areas of the city, some others are maybe more in the countryside. For example, my orange pieces, the warm color palette, is meant to be in the countryside where there is more poverty, less advancement, and less technology. I think if someone decides to take a look at my artwork, it may be in half an hour you can pretty much get a hold of what my art is and understand what it’s about.
Q: Does the cat appear in all of your works?
Dangiuz: It’s not in every work, but it’s in most of them. I do try to have the cat in as many pieces as possible, mostly because I love cats. In real life, I am a partner of a nearby shelter and we rescue a lot of cats and dogs. So I really just love cats and tend to feature them.
What I try to do, and I think it's the biggest challenge for me as an artist, is to reinvent myself with every new piece and make something new every time– without straying too far from who I am and what my art is about.
Q: What are the bigger barriers or challenges that you experienced as an individual artist?
Dangiuz: What I try to do, and I think it’s the biggest challenge for me as an artist, is to reinvent myself with every new piece and make something new every time– without straying too far from who I am and what my art is about. So there’s this little line, this little magic area between, “you are renovating yourself and you are going too far,” and the magic area is the perfect spot to create a new groundbreaking artwork. That’s what I try to make every time. Sometimes I manage, sometimes I don’t.
Q: Do you feel pressure from constantly creating groundbreaking work?
Dangiuz: I mean, we can definitely call it pressure, but once you realize that basically we are doing what we love and we are lucky enough to pursue creative freedom, I think this kills the pressure and allows you to leave it and to play it in a way that you are more free, more, how can I say, more relieved. So yeah, there’s definitely some pressure, especially because in social media you see everyone posting every day and it seems like everyone around you is doing better than you. They are faster, they are better, they are more loved. I totally get it. It’s a feeling that every artist goes through, no matter the followers, no matter the sales or anything like that. But I think it’s important to keep the focus on what really matters, which is art and quality and the vision, the creative process. That helps me zoom out and look at the bigger picture and realize, yeah, that kills the pressure.
Q: Do you feel like your pieces are commentaries on society, where society is going? Do you have a view on where society is going?
Dangiuz: Yes. Sci-fi and cyberpunk lore have always been about fighting the power. These small people, these poor people, are trying to make it against these big corrupted politicians, these big corporations. Every day, they are trying to get by. That is the cyberpunk message– it’s something that I adopted in my art, not something I invented. But to that, I like to add my romantic point of view, which is the kitty and falling in love with these people, rooting for them. That is what I try to make. Yeah, I mean, I also like to keep it open to interpretation for the viewer, for anyone who’s looking at my art. If people can find some hidden messages or maybe they can reinterpret my pieces in a certain way, I’m all for it.
Sci-fi and cyberpunk lore have always been about fighting the power. These small people, these poor people, are trying to make it against these big corrupted politicians, these big corporations.
Q: Who are some of your bigger inspirations in terms of your artwork?
Dangiuz: I think movie directors like Ridley Scott started this cyberpunk movement– imaginary scenarios with futuristic buildings, very impossible architecture, bridges one on top of the others, and all that. I love Vincent van Gogh, and I love Syd Mead, who was a very OG sci-fi artist. I have a lot of appreciation and respect for what Beeple did, and I have been inspired by his influence every day for 15 years. Many artists made the world a better place for other artists.